I’ve begun a collaboration with Josh Brown to raise some awareness on Corporate Responsibility. Josh started out last Monday by highlighting the perils of L.L. Bean and giving some reasons why you don’t want to make that your favorite clothing store. One critique from commenter’s was that Josh hadn’t provided an alternative of a “good” company. Enter Good Cop. Each Monday, Josh and I will post about companies in related fields, he’ll post the bad company, I’ll post the good one.
This week we are talking Tech. There aren’t a lot of outstanding companies out there currently, so I’ll be highlighting a handful of areas and different companies. Head over to iamjoshbrown.com for the other company.
This is not primarily to highlight Dell, but it’ll get some airtime at the end of the post. The truth is the technology industry has a lot of shadiness going on when it comes to ethical production. You thought sweatshops were just for clothing and coffee, sorry. Most of the big names have received some heat for some sort of ethical issue, but amidst all of it, there are a few small companies that are branching out in the niche of “eco-friendly.”
- GreenISP is a UK based (and available, sorry USA) Internet Service Provider doing things differently:
We travel to our solar powered offices on public transport and we plant trees to offset Co2 emissions
- Community Mail is attempting to provide free email that supports the same values you do.
- Another area a lot of companies have carved out an eco-friendly niche is in the area of web hosting. A number of companies are choosing to power their servers and power stations by wind and solar power. TreeHugger provides a nice list.
- There is one company, NEC, who seems to be leading the way in making eco-friendly computers.
- It’s not a product you can buy, but I’ve got to mention the One Laptop Per Child project since we are talking about technology.
- And supposedly LG has a gas powered laptop of sorts.
But that’s enough about eco-friendly options in technology, and time to talk about what to do when it comes to buying computers and other gadgets. This is tough because a lot of companies have bad raps from HP, Toshiba, Sony and on. But from my research, the best way to go is Dell.
First, let me quickly explain how to choose companies in a bushel of bad apples. If you can, buy used. This goes from thrift stores to ebay, if it’s a corrupt industry, try and remain in the second tier. But, if you must buy new, then it’s best to buy from the company that you feel is ethically doing the best, even if it’s not great. Especially when your intentional about it (write a letter or tell a manager), you send the message that when you hear about bad business you won’t shop there, but you will support efforts to ethical business.
Dell is a good candidate to support for two reasons.
- Dell has been one of the leaders in the computer industry at addressing the e-waste problem. Dell adopted the Computer TakeBack Campaign in the summer of 2004. They haven’t done the best job of using more disposable material for their computers, but they are ahead of many of the competitors.
- Dell’s rap sheet is less long then it’s competitors. When compared to Sony, Toshiba, Apple, and Microsoft, Dell seems to be doing quite well.
Responsible Shopper gives this as their bottom line for Dell:
take action to support the work of the Computer TakeBack Campaign, the work of which contributed to Dell’s recycling commitments. Keep the pressure on Dell to fulfill its newly stated sustainability goals.