Rethink Buying Cheap Electronics This Holiday

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 10:32 PM

Now that thanksgiving has passed and the holiday shopping season is officially kicking off. Our society and economy very effectively ingrain temptation to spend a lot of money over the next month,and an even deeper desire to save money. It is worth taking a moment to meditate on how you are making purchase decisions.  It's possible that our desire to preserve our bank account and our earth can be mutually reinforcing. All it takes is a little forethought. 

With the bombardment of advertisements and news reports surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is difficult  not to feel you need to dash to the nearest Big Box or to your computer to start spending. After all, "these deals won't last!"


But maybe the products won't last. Last year, a friend rushed to Walmart on Thanksgiving to purchase a new $100 flat-screen TV with the brand name "Element". A few months later it was broken so he threw it in the trash. His disappointment was in the wasted money and time, but the wasted rare earth elements also hold an ecological impact which went, likely, went unnoticed.

What I'm illustrating here is that you can do the earth and the wallet a favor by simply not springing to purchase for the sake of a "deal". Rare Metals highlights many of the issues surrounding key resources in electronics.. Being judicious in our electronics consumption can have a positive (or at least neutral) ecological effect, even when acting out of our own self interest. By not buying hardware that isn't built to last, you and the world will be better off

Although I may be understating the difficulty of suppressing the urge to jump on apparent deals on electronics, I hope that simply remembering to take a few moments to consider purchases can help.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. While you can  find good deals during these holiday sales, consider how long you expect that product to last. Are you buying it for yourself, or others? If it is a gift, don't you want it to be meaningful to the recipient for much longer than the just the moment they open it?

2. What may appear to be a great deal may be nothing more than raising the "original 
price" and then promoting "40% off" as though it were a remarkable deal only available for a limited time. Check out  camelcamelcamel which charts price changes on Amazon.com products over time.

3. If buying low-end electronics, you will be more likely to suffer from buyers remorse do to the lack of quality. Remember the old adage, "quality over quantity?" Buying low quality/off-brand electronics has a good chance of being a cheap thrill that will not last.

For the sake of your wallet, the environment, and whomever the product is for, remind yourself to take a moment to consider whether or not it is truly a wise purchase.

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