Saturday, March 17, 2007

You Want Carbon With That?

Engadget has taken Dell to task over their carbon offset program, claiming that essentially it adds nothing to their product. Dell has a different perspective. It's tough selling the world's the most eco-unfriendly product.

Granted, Dell is trying to do right. They keep improving their overall program, although Keith thinks they need to get on the stick in Latin America and the Caribbean. And they do pass 100 percent of the money they collect towards the carbon offsetter, so they are not turning a buck on the deal. Finally, they picked two good offsetters - the Conservation Fund and - both non-profits with good reputations and low overhead ratios.

It's no secret that I think voluntary carbon offsets are a non-starter, and ultimately they will probably be damaging to the environment movement as a whole. The problem is not the mission - I don't doubt they reduce bad gas - but I don't want to see a carbon tip jar at the end of every online transaction, particularly when a lot of them are run by for-profit entities who acknowledge they take between 70 and 85 percent of every transaction. And with the rest of the for-profits not talking, one can only assume the margins are ridiculously high on this charitable enterprise.

Again, Dell (smartly) did not go this route, and they also (smartly) expanded their program so one can buy offsets without making a purchase. This breaks the guilty association between the contribution and the 'bad' product that so many of these offsetters rely on. But let's see if they can take the next step - 6 year warranties, for example. That would really set them out ahead.

By the way, you used about 2 cents in electricity reading this post. Want to send me a penny? You know, for the carbon.

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