I remember being a senior in high school using Prodigy (!!) to connect to the Internet and thinking that this “Internet thing” was never going to catch on. It was way too slow and I felt like a loser for spending so much time not really accomplishing anything. I had no idea that the Internet was slowly and steadily on its way to transforming all other forms of entertainment- music, movies, toys, and even books to become a gateway into more sustainable industries.
In college my friend coveted the original model of the iPod, and I did not understand her excitement about it at first. I was a music buff and gadget addict who was holding onto the idea that the mini disc player was on the verge of becoming mainstream. But when I unexpectedly received the iPod Classic third generation as a graduation present I was hooked. I no longer had to tape and record songs on my mini disc to create a mix- I would just drag and drop the songs to instantly have a playlist!
At the time I never thought about how an iPod was a greener solution to the music industry. I was just happy that I did not have to continue to find places in my tiny room for more CD cases. And that I could go out to the gym with one small device that had ALL of my music on it. The effects of the iPod phenomenon surrounded me- the music industry was in a panic- targeting Napster, suing illegal music downloaders, shutting down music stores. A technology revolution was developing and the music industry is still scrambling to pick up the pieces.
The Internet has also transformed one of my other favorite pastimes (watching movies) into a more sustainable industry. Instead of buying video tapes, DVDs, or Blu-Ray discs to take up space, I can now buy and download movies from the iTunes store. And if I don’t want to own a movie that I will never watch again, I do not have to even get off of my couch to rent from Netflix.
The technology revolution has not only altered the way we listen to music and watch movies, but also the kind of toys children want to play with. I grew up looking forward to the days I could go to Toys “R” Us to get a new Barbie doll and sleeping with the FAO Schwarz catalog under my pillow hoping I might one day have one of the rich kid dream toys. Kids today want a new iPod, laptop computer, or video game system and end up shopping at Target and Wal-mart instead of traditional toy stores. KB Toys and Toys “R” Us are definitely feeling the pinch.
Companies like Netflix and rentAtoy.com have successful business models that hinge on customers renting/recycling their products. Definitely beats being in your home surrounded by a mountain of toys and movies you have accumulated but no longer want.
I am a public library user. I borrow books from the library because I love to read, but there is nothing worse than moving an entire box of books. I don’t have the space and some books I just want to read once. But for the books that I would actually like to own, technology comes to the rescue again. I am very excited about the Kindle (new version is about to come out- and it is on my wish list in case any family or friends are reading this). To be able to have my favorite books and newspapers on demand in a digital device the size of a book is just the coolest thing.
Thank goodness technology has improved to lightning speed proportions. Now when I look to be entertained, I can do it without having to buy another storage bin or CD/DVD/book shelf and feel just a little bit greener!