Monday, April 16, 2007

Guide to Eco-products Pt4 - "no stuff, just services"

This is the last in my series on what makes a product eco-friendly - but we're going to stop thinking about products and look at the service they provide instead. For example:

- we don't need books, we want the information they hold, so we could borrow a book from a library or read it on-line.
- we don't need CDs, we want music, so we could download it instead and keep it in electronic format on an MP3 player.
- we don't need a central heating system, we just need to be warm, so we could improve the insulation of our house instead.

So we could buy 'services' rather than 'products' - join a book/music/DVD library, subscribe to pay per view movies and on-line magazines, join a car club and/or use a nappy laundry service. The industries that supplies these services are then encouraged to use less stuff in doing it to keep their costs down, rather than trying and sell us more and more stuff to make profit.

With the broadband revolution and better technologies we are already seeing a big shift to moving information around electronically (well you're reading this), so we'll be spending more of our money on subscriptions rather than materials. But there is one big drawback to this - most of us like 'stuff' for its aesthetic value or for the kudos it gives us. Being a member of a car club will not appeal to those who want to polish a Cosmocharged Tottymagnet 3.8 GTi on their driveway on a Sunday morning. Me, I like reading a real paper in the morning (and a full sized one - don't get me started on the recent shift of quality papers to a tabloid size), a house full of books, and the big drawback of iTunes to a music obsessive is that you don't get proper sleevenotes. And that's bad.



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