A lot of companies greenwash nowadays. Greenwashing is basically using generic evironmentally friendly words (organic, all natural, etc.) when in fact there product is not. One industry that has started doing this is the computer industry, particularly the laptop portion of the industry. Computers are well-known to be very environmentally unfriendly. The components in computers are toxic or non-biodegradeable, and for a long time there was really no standards for disposal. Then someone got their butts in gear and made the WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) which was the first international computer disposal directive. It outlined the proper procedures for disposing of old computers.

The thing is, though, computer companies really didn't do anything for a while about making their computers more environmentally friendly. Then, marketing people noticed the growing environmentalist trend, and they probably said something like "Dude, we can make a lot of money from this!" So, computer companies started making (or trying to make) more environmentally friendly computers.Samsung_logo.gif

After searching for environmentally friendly laptops on Google (which is a lot harder than it sounds. Mostly you just get generic laptops advertisements), I found a document at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2009/sep/11/laptop-most-eco-friendly-ethical saying that the Samsung N120 Netbook was one of the most environmentally friendly computers. This is what one looks like.
This thing is pretty small. It has a 10.1 inch screen, a 12 inch keyboard, relatively tiny for laptops. But since this project is about greenwashing, I started trying to find out if this netbook is really that environmentally friendly, or if it's just smoke and mirrors. I looked up the specs (I found them at http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=5206&review=samsung+n120) and started reading through. Knowing a bit about computers, I noticed that most of its components are relatively environmentally friendly. The thing that caught my eye, however, was the battery type. I had no idea what Li-ion batteries were. So, again, I Googled it. And it stands for lithium ion. To the right is a picture of a lithium ion battery.
Now, regular laptops use Nickel-Cadmium (alias Ni-Cad) or Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. These batteries are notorious for being extremely toxic. But a lithium ion battery has regular metals in it, like nickel, copper, cobalt, iron, and also has an ionic form of lithium.,but no actual lithium (Apparently there's a difference). So, it's actually recyclable, and doesn't have a very large environmental impact by itself. And seeing how a lithium ion battery lasts about 3 times longer than older batteries, there will be less of them to dispose of. (for more detail on lithium ion batteries, this link will take you to a website concerning the environmental impact).

Also, this product is TCO certified. This means that it is put through a very rigorous screening process to make sure it is environmentally friendly. TCO is a department of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees. I won't go into detail about them (that's not the purpose of this), but they took it upon themselves to create an environmental standard to judge information technology (IT) products on. And the N120 was the first netbook ever to pass their standards.

So, is this product environmentally friendly? Well, it appears that Samsung wasn't greenwashing after all. This netbook really is green (well, technically it's white or black, but you know what I mean). It is small, efficient, and is the first netbook ever to become TCO certified.