June 17, 2015

Not Buying Any Upgrades

Is new better? Better for what? Mostly for increasing the profits of the scammers trying to sell us things we don't need. But things are changing and people are quitting the "new and improved" race.

We reached peak technology some time ago, and now upgrades no longer give us the bang for our buck that they used to. To fight this, there is a movement beginning that is turning back the clock on technology.

"Last year over 1 million PCs were dumped by British businesses. Most of this equipment ended up in landfill."

People are foisting their FB account, eschewing email, and lovingly handwriting letters. Many are moving the microwave out, parking the car and taking up biking again. On single speed bikes.

To help neo-Luddites along are low tech magazines spreading the word about leaving the upgrade game and going back to tried and true tools that never should have been left behind. Like a clothes line rather than an energy sucking dryer.

As one magazine says, "Every problem has a low tech solution".

People who live simply are often proponents of low tech living. The Amish are an excellent example of a group that refuses newer technologies to avoid undesirable effects on their communities. How do you use power tools and appliances when the power goes out?

"The average American spends almost $1400.00 annually on electronics."

Going low tech saves money. It prevents waste. Low tech is accessible to those that want to do it themselves, either building or repairing items. High tech is often fragile, while low tech is usually more robust and long-lasting. Low tech is low energy.

Counter to popular thinking, a small group of proponents feel that there will be no technological saves in our future. It is becoming increasingly obvious that our high tech is what has lead us to the brink of disaster.

While low tech has never gone away, it is about to become a lot more popular in our low energy future. It is time to say goodbye to high tech upgrades, and hello to a sustainable hand made, people powered future.

"Every year the world tosses 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronics. Only 10 - 18% is recycled."


  1. Anonymous6/17/2015

    Ha, exactly! Striving for Simple Living, I have recently ditched my pocket calculator and re-learned how to multiply and divide with pencil and paper and to add and subtract in my head. If I could do it in primary school, I can do it as an adult. Definitely a low-tech solution. You do not need something electrical, digital, made out of plastic, and produced in China to do your maths, as I discovered.

    1. Excellent example. Doing calculations on paper IS fun, and is a very worthy skill to have. An abacus is an ancient example of a low tech item that can deal with large numbers easily and quickly.

  2. Hi Gregg,

    I love low tech! I think what I love most about it is it's usually quieter and it's often free - think washing the dishes by hand as opposed to listening to the dishwasher, or hanging washing on the line as opposed to listening to the dryer running. Sometimes I now sweep my rugs and floorboards rather than vaccuuming as it feels so much more peaceful - and I hate hauling the heavy vaccuum cleaner out of the cupboard!

    It was so heartening to hear the phrase 'peak technology' as I hadn't heard it before, and what a relief!


    1. Since moving we no longer have a vacuum. Now we have hardwood floors and a good sweep is sufficient. I prefer sweeping - no electricity consumed, and I find it quite meditative. Swish, swish... Peaceful, as you say.

  3. I'm all about low tech because it means less crap, less decisions, less money I spend and less damage to our planet. It means I use resourcefulness and my mind to creatively solve problems with ordinary things. It means I reuse the things I have.

    Love no calculator and doing math instead, nakedfeet. I've started doing more math too vs relying on a device to do it for me. I actually tutor math, the kind where you copy the problem and work it out step by step. And I love every minute of it!

    Many people idolized Steve Jobs and all he gave them with electronics he created for them. But has anyone done the math on how few jobs his organization created? How environmentally exploitative it is to produce the electronics he created? How the people producing them are treated and resulting job-related illnesses and disabilities they suffer as a result of being on the production line? The other brands are no different. So this leads me to a sensitive subject...

    What about owning a computer? It's conflicting for me to have any electronics. Yet, if I don't have a computer, I miss out on a lot. A lot of education. A lot of online community like this blog that is vital to me. I would have very little contact with my family and others I care about if I didn't have a computer and a cell phone.

    Wondering if anyone has worked this one out. All I can figure is have as few of electronics as possible and keep them going for as long as possible. In other words do not upgrade just because they are available.

    Other things that can be factored in are: I use less gasoline when I have a computer.

    -- Paying bills online saves. It saves postage, check fees, and time. It saves because of less mail for the post office to process, vehicles to fuel and maintain, perhaps less building space electronic machines to sort mail, and having a computer saves paper (which could be debated).

    -- I'm able to research health concerns and treat myself without getting in the massively wasteful, electronic laden health care system.

    I'm not giving up my computer, just saying I have some conflict about owning one. Feedback welcomed.

    I've been focused on using less electricity at home lately. You mentioned ditching the clothes dryer. I've almost done that. Sadly, I'm not able to have a clothes line outside. So my clothes are dried by laying them out. My neighbor just started that and she's unplugging as much as she can. She has cut her power bill in half in a month!

    I've turned off lights mostly. Internet router is unplug at night and during the day when I am away. With as many lights as there are on that electronic box, it has to be using a lot of power when it is plugged in!

    I've unplugged anything with an LED light or any kind of light.

    My air is still conditioned, it was 102 with high humidity here today! But I've adjusted the temp to 81 degrees F instead of 78. Doing just fine with that. Love not hearing the AC run as much! I also weatherized my apartment as much as they would allow.

    I am way below half of what the average home usage of electricity is. I hope to be consistent with a quarter of the average electricity usage for my state.

    I guess cutting down my energy consumption is reducing my need for electronics both in my local world and in the world that provides me with it.

    1. There are so many things that you have outlined here that anyone can do to make a difference. Every bit helps, and it is an enjoyable challenge.

      I hear you about the computer, but you would have to pry mine out of my cold, digital hands. The answer, I think, is to make it last. Like Kimberly in the comment below, it is possible to use a computer for a long time (13 years in her case!).

      The secret to making electronics last is keeping them cool - use lower power settings, shut down things you don't need, sleep your monitor and hard drive when idle, provide adequate ventilation.

      We gave up our TV, microwave, stereo, toaster oven, CD players, vacuum cleaner and more quite happily. But not having a computer would really affect our lives. We contact friends and family every day via computer, and would miss that connectivity.

    2. Thank you for your feedback about computers. It's pretty important in my life too. I appreciate the part about making it last. Didn't know some of those things.

      A tech guy told me that it's downloading a lot of things that wears out hard drives.

      Connection with family via a computer is vital to me also. Connection to online communities like this blog is at times like oxygen. So so supportive.

      Still it is a bit conflicting and I will live with it because of how important it is. Stretching a computer's life will help off-set that.

      Thank you for addressing this.

      With my last computer, I tried, really tried to keep it going. Had some service work done with high hopes of it lasting another year or two. No luck with that. It just cost a bunch of money and limped crashing often.

      I didn't rush out to get another one though. I sought another tech guy in hopes he could locate a processor for a reasonable amount. No-go also. So I just lived with it using a gifted ipad with limited functionality intermittently to get by.

      Eight years might be the magic lifespan that they design computers to last. That's how long mine lasted. I'll recycle the old one.

      Cheers to Kimberly for keeping her computer going for 13 years and counting!

      Another note on computers: I live in South Carolina. We are seeing some monumental changes, changed hearts. And hope for change on some issues that need to be changed. Thousands are uniting in remembrance and to honor those who died in Charleston last week. Thousands are rallying for important changes in the aftermath of the horrific Charleston shootings. Without computers we would have never seen 10,000 to 20,000 people assembled in such a short period of time to hold hands in unity across a bridge that is several miles long (Hands Across the Bridge) in remembrance. So much more going on in this state right now. Computers have allowed a gigantic outpouring of love and deepest sympathy for the families, the church, the city of Charleston and the state of South Carolina. The public response on this level would have never been possible without computers.

      I'm in. And not on a news fast for the time being.

  4. I've had the same computer for over 13 years. It's been to the shop a few times, but it still works just fine. Last year I did purchase a re-built pc with newer software to have on hand just in case this one goes, but so far, I haven't had to use it. We use everything in this house until it can't be used anymore.

    1. That is impressive. We got about 8 good years from our last lap top. Love your philosophy on using things till they are done. It is our past and our future.

      I have a pair of boots that are 24 years old and are currently my go to footwear. Can they make it to 30 years?

  5. This article reminds me of that old joke/urban legend about the 'space-pen'

    "During the space race of the 60's, NASA spent millions of dollars developing a ballpoint pen that would work in the zero-gravity environment of outer space.

    The Russians used a pencil."

    1. Very funny, and an excellent example of sticking to tried and true ways of doing things.


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