Only A Second Hand Computer From Now On

Zero wasting: Computing

I am still very nearly the type of person who when wanting a new computer, would go for the very best I’m able to afford so I can use it for as long as possible. That long term attitude exists vs the kind of short term thinking where people may just buy whatever is cheapest at the time (or budget will allow) and aside from the technical constraints that pop up when needs change, buying cheaper now is seen as better than buying something expensive without factoring in the entire lifetime cost of each product.

Of course this depends on your needs and budget and there’s no shaming happening here. We all just think about it differently and some of have to re-consider later if we’ve made the wrong decision thereby costing us more money.

George RR Martin for example is still using the same computer from the 1980s for his word processing whereas YouTubers will always try to stay up to date on the latest in tech. I fall down closer to the YouTubers and I do need to stay relatively up to date to edit video.

To cut a long podcast story short, I happily saved myself around $1500 by reconsidering my computing options with the zerowaste lifestyle in mind this time, and of course if you’re listening to this, I’d suggest to you to consider the exact same thing when you make your next big computer purchase. But back up a second, I know trying to save money on a computer isn’t an original thought, but its a new choice I’m open too as I further try to save money first and lower my carbon foot print second and then third share these thoughts with you in this new context.

So that’s it, if you just wanted the conclusion already. Try to buy second hand. Thanks for reading.

Now, let me preface my decision by saying two things when it comes to maximising MY cost savings.

  • Yes I know I didn’t need to buy an Apple machine, I could have easily bought something else.

Linux and Windows are great alternatives to saving money with, the trouble is I like Apple devices and the software, this is a personal choice made out of practicality for my work flow and the progress Apple have made towards their environmental impact, something which I will talk about at the end of the episode.

  • Yes I could have bought an even older Apple device than the Apple machine I bought.

Anything older than what I bought, which was a 2017 27” iMac, isn’t going to be that much of an improvement in many ways. The laptop I’m sunsetting is Prosumer and the iMac consumer line is held back against the Pro line. So anything prior to 2017 isn’t going to get me a performance boost. Lastly the upkeep of an older computer might also be higher because of its age, compatibility, and servicability might be difficult.

So all the potential politics aside, I’m aware of what else is out there and it’s good you know also, if you have objections to my decisions, because I want you to flex at me bro with your own ideas for savings.

In 2012 I bought the latest Apple laptop, a rMBP with all the upgrade options maxed out. Now 7 years later, a few minor components have failed, it’s a bit slow for my video editing needs today but thankfully its fine for everything else I need the Mac for like content management.

Now the total cost of ownership thing has worked out to being around $530 dollars a year. So far. If I keep it for another year then it works out as $467 dollars. 9 years $415, 10 years $373. If you don’t know where I’m getting the numbers from, its the purchase price + repairs divided by the number of years it was owned. Do you think like that?

Last year I purchased an iPad pro for creating videos and podcasts, it was half the price of the laptop I paid, so in five years its TCO will be $373. The iPad is also cheaper to run in terms of electrical use and is far more portable than the laptop. Tablets are almost at a point where they can replace all my computing needs. I would love to just have tablets and phones to use on a daily basis. They’re cheaper and they save on a ton of space.

But I still need a Mac. The iPad can’t do everything.

I found myself pricing out a 2019, 5k 27” iMac, I wanted all the bells and whistles but was staring at a $2850 price tag for a machine that wouldn’t even be my main computer! It would have given me piece of mind, but a purchase like this is insane and I’m not rich.

This whole endeavour to purchase a new computer was a three way balancing act between my costs vs my time vs the environmental cost.

7 years ago I wasn’t a zerowaster, I didn’t think then the way I barely do now, seven years is also relatively speaking, a long time to change computing machines, so any machine I’m upgrading too is going to be objectively faster right?

Right, this is where my new mindset has saved me the $1500 I can brag about here because I went second hand for the first time in my life with a computer instead of new. I already made an episode on my Loose Rants podcast about never wanting to purchase a brand new iPhone again for much the same reasons. I didn’t think I’d be doing the exact same thing with computers so soon. But once you’re on the second hand technology train, you can better appreciate what’s available to you. Whatever is speculated for release becomes less important, and now I see my future tech devices in a whole new light in terms of making future upgrades and as a bonus never pay full price ever again.

I think the iMac I bought has become a decent compromise where I haven’t ended up paying the typical Apple price for a product, I’m buying tech that already exists, as in I’m not requesting something entirely new from a factory. The iMac is still relatively new by being only one or two processor generations behind, and let’s admit it. Who am I to demand the absolute best? I’m just a youtuber and podcaster, I don’t even edit 4k videos just yet.

Of course, the final option is to just not buy anything at all and make do with what I have until the laptop truly dies, but with that view in mind, what do I get with that kind of super frugal lifestyle in mind? Again its cost vs time vs the environmental costs.

What are your considerations when you’re making your next purchase?

  • By the way I’m still keeping the laptop, I’m using it solely for my school career and as a backup device in case of a problem with the iMac, I was going to sell it but the utility of the machine is still too great to just make a second hadn’t for someone else to use.

This article is basically the transcript from the ZeroWaste Podcast, a podcast designed around saving you money first when comitting to the zero waste lifestyle.

— — — — — — — — — —

While doing research for this episode, the environmental reports Apple put out are quite interesting. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Apple computers are 100% recyclable when they are at the end of their actual life.

  • The manufacturing processes for Apple devices are entirely zero waste and made with renewable energy!

  • They use wood pulp for their boxes come from responsibly managed forests.

  • Server side processes run off renewable energy, that means purchasing content on iTunes, texting on iMessage are contributing to our carbon emissions

  • These reports come out every year so you can track their progress towards making sustainable products.

Links to the reports can be found here.

Only A Second Hand iPhone From Now On

Well, it’s not because of the price exactly.

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We as a society are fortunately at the point now where the computing performance of the iPhone is so good that it can replace or forgo entire traditional computers for enough people. It’s plenty enough to drive all our applications and games. What are these modern incarnations of personal computing forgetting to do for us?

Last year In 2018 I bought an iPhone Xr, it came with the fastest processor Apple currently made for iOS and the Xr is equal to the much higher priced Xs Max in day to day use.

It is perfect for what I need it for, and even though it doesn’t come with a second camera lens, I still have my iPhone 7 plus which isn’t that different from the 8+ or the Xs series. The iPhone 7 Plus is also already three years old so the iPhone Xr can clearly last just as long (with battery replacements ;-)). And whatever I can buy second hand after the Xr is going to be an improvement by default of making technological progress.

There is already a huge grey market for Apple iPhones so my idea isn’t original, other people are buying second hand already. I could have bought the 8+ this year but didn’t because I wanted the larger screen. The Xr seemed to have enough advantages over both what it replaced (the 8+) and what was released with it (Xs and XS Max). The Xr purchase has now become my stake in the ground where I had always desired to have at least one new phone every other generation. Now there is no real need, me still using the iPhone 7+ is proof of this and it’s time to enjoy life in the grey market.

I’m not buying second hand to save money per se, I’m not buying second hand to protest against Apple’s prices either. I’m going second hand because as mentioned are good enough so why pay all them dollars anymore for brand new and why pay for the extras that come with the iPhone that are essentially creating more waste.

Waste? You mean the manuals and the power adapter?

Yes, I’m talking about the barebones crap that comes in the box, the same set of manuals that barely anyone reads, the stickers you have to justify sticking somewhere (I’ve ran out of ideas to place mine) and the power adapter stays in the box. I don’t need all that stuff anymore and Apple won’t just sell me an actual naked iPhone like the grey market will. It’s to overlook the packaging when you’re only buying one iPhone, but the scale at which Apple operate today shouldn’t be overlooked when the run off from the in the box accessories isn’t going to be fully utilised

Apple sold 200 million iPhones in 2018*. Did everybody read the manual again? Are you using the weak 5 watt adapter? I didn’t, I have multiple USB cables, external batteries, and USB ports on my computer and my power sockets. Everything other than the phone is surplus to requirement. I can’t be the only one?

Apple could address this problem if they wanted to.

  1. Don’t put the adapters in the box and lower the price enough to simply reflect there is less.

  2. Don’t put the adapters in the box but offer them for free in Apple Stores to anybody who purchases an iPhone if they ask for one.

  3. Remove them entirely and gouge customers further by offering for sale only the Qi charging solutions and power solutions that already exist in the accessories section.

  4. Leave it solely to the 3rd parties to cater to this problem.

Anker the third-party solution for charging iPhones either with external batteries or with specific wall warts is on the recordas saying they would like to build the power solutions for Apple so Apple can put less in the box.

And in the latest episode of the Talkshow, John Gruber and Joanna Stern they were discussing the ideas behind what will Apple do in the future with regards to putting adapters in the box.

Their conversation implied that Apple will continue shipping power adapters in the box regardless.

Now I’m not sure Apple would split up the contents of the iPhone box to another company or have such a basic power adapter as freebie or made into a must have accessory purchase. Then again, the MacBook Pro doesn’t come with the extra length cable either because Apple either wanted to nickel and dime you from what came in that particular box or they are actually being environmentally friendly. I’ll let you decide.

But both conclusions however could easily justify their behaviour towards reducing the waste that comes with selling millions of iPhones.

Putting all the manuals and power adapters in the box is wholly unnecessary now in my opinion, and it creates huge amounts of e-waste simply because of the scale which Apple operates at. Everybody basically has a multitude of means with which to charge their iphones.

And as I get more into zero waste, I’m thinking more and more about how to lessen my impact on this planet while at the same time not necessarily giving up the things that I need with which to operate on this planet. This post reflects one of those ideas. If enough people do the same, Apple might change their practices.

I thought I’d share this idea and I’m looking forward to what I’m going to buy at a cheaper price point that’s going to be better than my phone today while lowering my environmental impact.

*But the phone market shipped 1.5 billion chargers.

It Shouldn’t Take The ‘Crazy Ones’. It Should Be Everyone

This whole iPad isn’t thing.

I wish I saved the blog post I wrote back on my Wordpress account in 2012 about my previous computer purchase. I spent some time praising the joy of owning a retina MacBookPro and I remember typing, “this might be the last laptop I will own”.


This thinking came from all the power and versatility of the device I typed the review on at the time, it was spec’ed with the highest custom options available (about $28,000 HKD at the time). I felt I wouldn’t need another Apple laptop ever again. It felt that powerful in use.

Since that time however, Apple have tried to prove my now half decade old assertion correct. My 2012 purchase still feels greatly justified against the newest iterations of the rMBP. Everything after 2015 feels like a bigger than normal compromise one would want to make with an Apple product. Normally the balance in new features against the removal of the old ones works itself out. These newest devices haven’t had their “balancing” work itself out still and Apple won’t save face by adding back some legacy just to make it easier

Clearly Apple think they’re on the right path with their laptops. Who am I to argue? Seriously though, the MacBook Pro’s are a no-go for me

What else then could I upgrade to instead? I figured the iMac, (I know not a portable) actually was the next most appropriate because the price to performance ratio was much better and I’d only need one bloody dongle to move forward judging by the peripherals I own and the legacy ports still available to the iMac.

The October Event

The 2018 iMac update didn’t come as many presumed it would, Apple updated other we were crowing about and consequently the prices on those devices rose, just like with the MacBook Pro’s. This gave me reason to be concerned; that Apple is going to do this with the iMac line. Time will tell on that front.

The iPad was also updated and judging the product from the event’s marketing, it was supposed to be faster than any current laptop (around 92% to be exact) on the market and be a replacement for a laptop.

My laptop has been off the market since 2015 so I did some mental calculations that made an iPad Pro purchase seem like the logical choice in terms of its low price (relative to what’s available and what I paid six years ago for my main machine).

Ironically those “relatives” allowed me to sidestep the conversation people were having about the increased price of the new iPads because my personal circumstances gave me different criteria to compare against. The cost of computing for me, actually got cheaper, by a third.


A 2012 MacBook Pro at $28,000 divided by 6 years of ownership equals to $4,666 per year. Using that as my baseline a $18,000 purchase (the 1TB iPad Pro* including pencil, stand, keyboard, 4TB WiFi hard drive) over 6 years would come out at $3,000 per year.

I think it’s reasonable, not just for me, but for anyone, it’s prudent to think longer term for computing purchase and it’s not out of the question to realise an iPad can be still be useful after 4 years. Heck the current iPad mini still sold by Apple hasn’t seen an update since September 2015. Apple seem to think so to. Again who am I to argue? :-)

I think I need to make another assertion :-p – “I can keep this iPad as my main machine for the next four years at least”.

The big conversation online however is whether an iPad can replace a laptop. This conversation was held previously for laptops replacing desktops and look what happened, nobody cares now.

At the moment people care again about going from laptop to tablet, while others clearly see the power of the alternative in an iPad.

What do I do on a laptop that CAN be done on an iPad?

Two things slowed my 6 year old laptop down, editing video with Final Cut Pro and browsing Reddit.

Those two things CAN and are being replaced as Jonathan Morrison recently illustrated to his large audience and Henny Tha Bizness has been showing how he works on an iPad since before this year’s conversation about whether creative work is possible on the iPad really kicked into gear.

Apart from some asides (Xcode), there really is no excuse or argument against not seeing a large subset of non-traditional (pilots, medical staff and sports tacticians) and traditional professionals (photographers, video and drawing artists) alike, using the iPad Pro in some sophisticated ways. People are proving it today, not later when iOS 13 supposedly will fix everything wrong with the iPad.

I’ve already edited my next YouTube video with an iPad and it was faster than I thought. Of course because the hardware is enabling me more than my laptop can but in addition, the capability of Luma Fusion in this case for manipulating said video is also making possible.

The desktop to laptop transition was an easy one because the UI paradigms and desktop metaphors kinda stayed the same across all the platforms during that time.

This next transition from laptop to tablet requires not only newer UI workflows, but pioneering, creative minds that say ‘yes’ in the face of a chorus of ‘no’ or ‘not yet’.

I’m saying yes, and my bank account agrees with me.

*As a general purchasing rule I believe buying the very most is the wisest thing to do when making an Apple purchase. It grants you longevity while using the computer and removes any performance doubts if you had skimped on an upgrade.