Editorial Insights

We can’t all have first-world problems… can we?


Image ©: Huffington Post The topic of sustainability is one often filled with ideas and tips on how to make the average American less damaging to the environment. Recycle, buy LED bulbs, use renewable energy… these are the banners under which we cry “sustainability!”

But do any of us really stop to think about whether or not this lifestyle we enjoy is sustainable enough—even with all our best strategies—for everyone on the planet? I mean, do we really think we can pace ourselves on this planet if every single human had the consumption, development, and affluence as we do?

The give-and-take of a sustainable life for all

This article asks this simple question of our expectations and we feel it bears repeating. Do we have enough on this planet to sustain everyone at an American pace of consumption?

There is no cut-and-dry answer, of course, since we are dealing with the whole of the human race in answering it: the differing environmental concerns (like colder or warmer weather), and glaring insufficiencies (such as drought or non-farmable land), make some peoples’ sustainability look different than ours.

What does come from asking this question, however, is the awareness that we are currently outpacing our own country’s “fair share” of planetary resources. Even at our most efficient, we still consume far more than most of the other countries we share this globe with. So, at a high level, the answer is no… unless something changes.

A Shift from growing gross to staying steady

So, what needs to change? The way we live? The vehicles we drive? The food we eat? Well, yes, for starters. But that’s asking an awful lot of us, don’t you think? The truth is, we need an even larger paradigm shift to occur for us to take less and live with more environmental responsibility. And there needs to be a compelling reason for businesses to go sustainable.phrenology-headstogether-cropped.jpg

One of the biggest reasons we as Americans enjoy the life we do is because our attention is on the growth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) instead of something less consumer-driven. If we, as a country, can pivot from “buy more and make more” to something more circular or “steady state,” then what America does won’t impede others from reaching a similar goal.

Of course, this shift would help move us into a more sustainable mindset anyway—which would be great for the overall environmental responsibility of our country. Sounds great! So, what’s holding us back? Isn’t the potential for earthly affluence enough to shock us into shifting?

It’s time to be that change…

Perhaps you’ve come across the saying: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Well, far more than just a quaint saying, the quote rings truest with environmental issues. Sustainability has always been a personal-global choice. Personal for being something driven by individual desire, and Global because it requires all of us—moving in concert—to bring about significant impact.

In this increasingly global existence we all live in; sustainable choices are moving to become the only choices we’ll be able to make for our lives. Businesses will soon find unsustainable practices harder to perform. Even the once-ubiquitous incandescent light bulb will be nothing more than a display in museums. And if that doesn’t convince, the growing interest in A.I. and IoT devices should.

Emerging technology is the cornerstone
to our adoption of a circular economy.

By using technology to help us make more sustainable choices, and by being sustainable with our technology—through sustainable ITAD practices—we can limit the resources we consume. And with those we do consume, we can be more efficient.

A proven system makes a compelling argument

This beautiful, circular system is why we started Sage. We take surplus electronic devices and either donate them to organizations and schools who need them, or we resell them back to employees or to the general public. In doing this, we’ve been able to significantly increase the reusable yield of IT assets that most companies originally thought of as useless.

Another reuse strategy is to help organizations reuse their own devices. As Carrie Large (Sage's Senior Director) points out: "At Sage, we help recover idle surplus devices, store them at our facility and redeploy them wherever they are needed." She goes on to show the lengths we go to to make this happen. "We may also repair and even upgrade devices to ensure they are of the right spec to be redeployed."

This strategy helps us to extend the useful life of a good percentage of the devices we take in for clients, allowing them to save the cost and headache of sourcing new devices. It is this benefit specifically that is difficult for businesses to see the value of, until they've been able to experience it first-hand.

But more than just financial benefits, along the way, we’ve also been able to create partnerships with organizations who need equipment, started programs to close the digital divide present in our country, and we’ve established proven methods of data security, refurbishment, and reselling that help open the eyes of our stakeholders.

We could only have done this through the sustainable paradigm we have as a company—viewing business as a circular entity from the beginning. And, as we grow, we hope that we can show new businesses (who don’t already know) the financial and economic benefits of having a conscientious ITAD process.

There is also the hope of eliminating thousands of tons of e-waste from needlessly landing on the shores of struggling countries or in a local landfill that drives us. And, at the end of the day, maybe—just maybe—this change we are trying to be will make its way to the rest of the globe in time to make a difference.

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