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.

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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.