The environmental impact of Flashy UIs

Note: This post is over 4 years old. It was first published in November 2007

I was looking at the packaging of my Arm & Hammer toothpaste this morning. It has metallic inks, embossed card, and plastic lamination. The box probably cost more than the contents. It’s kind of pointless given that everyone chucks the box away as soon as they open it.

When I got into work, I stared at the UI on my Mac and noticed some similarities. Nowadays we’ve got translucent windows, genie effects, and all kinds of hardware accelerated eye candy. It got me thinking – what’s the environmental impact?

Take your average drop-down menu in Os X or Vista. You click on it, and you’re treated to a drop-shadow and maybe a blur and a translucence effect. To achieve this, you’re computer is hammering the graphics card, and as a result it’s using more electricity and chucking out more heat. OK, it’s probably a tiny amount even if you multiply this up by global usage over time, but the point is, it’s needless and avoidable.

So, every time you click on a dropdown, you are increasing your carbon footprint. Gradually bringing about the next ice-age, one click at a time.

:-)

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