On how the environmental impact of stuff is more on the manufacturing side
A “life cycle assessment” is basically where somebody goes and looks at the full environmental impact of a product — say a smartphone — from manufacturing to disposal and looks at what the air pollution impacts are, the mining impacts, the carbon impacts. The one thing we do know is that the biggest impact of most products is the manufacturing side. So if you want to reduce the environmental impact of your consumption, the best way to do that is to not manufacture more stuff. In that sense, the best thing you can do is not buy more stuff.If you want to reduce the environmental impact of your consumption, the best way to do that is to not manufacture more stuff. In that sense, the best thing you can do is not buy more stuff.
The longer that your product lasts, the longer that you use that smartphone, the less likely it is that you’re going to be buying a new one. So the goal really should be to keep your stuff in use for as long as possible, whether it’s by you or somebody in Ghana or somebody in Cambodia
Most people have little understanding of the total lifecycle impacts of products they purchase, the food they eat, the cars they drive or the third-party services they consume.
This is why (see our previous posts), many people switching to an EV from a gas vehicle are delivering far less environmental benefit than they imagine they are delivering. But this applies to all of the items we purchase, use or just store.
When I’d go jogging around my old neighborhood on the weekend (before moving) and see open garage doors with garages stuffed full of stored stuff, it sure looked like some people have a problem of acquiring too much and just storing it, unused. When you realize the manufacturing of all that stuff is where the largest impacts occur, you can see that reducing one’s consumption is the best course of action to help the environment.
Buying yet another thing like an EV is not necessarily your best course of action.