Besides gaming, my other big passion is doing my best to protect the environment. This statement alone is quite paradoxical, as gaming itself takes a heavy toll on the environment. While I have no intention of giving up gaming, there are a few things one can consider to make the situation better.
A lot of things, in fact most things humans do nowadays are damaging to the environment. This is the path humanity chose, this is where we are heading for the moment. Obviously you or I cannot change things on a global scale, but we can all do our part, at least decreasing our carbon footprint.
I would like to emphasize, that I do not wish to tell you how to live your life. But if you ever read this post, please at least consider changing a thing or two. There is a global climate crisis, our water and fauna is riddled with microplastic. And like it or not, my single most precious hobby, gaming has a role in this as well.
There is no need to buy every single accessory that you like
What made me write this post eventually was an ad on Facebook last night. A T-rex shaped keycap, promoted by a gaming news portal.
On this one, I will be quite blunt. I find the mere existence of this product useless. I am all for individuality and self-expression, but I am absolutely sure that anyone can survive without custom plastic keycaps.
Humanity already produces way too much plastic, in which we are quite literally drowning at this point. Manufacturing it already puts a lot of stress on our environment, and sadly, many of these knick-knacks will just end up in landfills, degrading very slowly.
Do I want custom keycaps? Not really, but I can understand why someone would.
Do I need custom keycaps? Absolutely not.
My point is, that just because you can buy something, you don’t necessarily have to.
The gaming industry is riddled with useless money-grab accessories. Cat ears, gaming wristbands, gaming smartbands, energy drinks, chewing gums, glasses, and the list goes on.
You can choose to not give in for all of these trends that come and go.
The same goes for collector’s edition physical gifts, pre-order bonuses, and so on.
I will not tell you to not buy these, all I ask from you is to consider not buying them. Sleep on it, give it some time, and then decide if you really need these items. Would you be willing to put your momentary need behind the greater good of protecting the environment?
I will be honest with you, I don’t like to stuff my shelves, drawers with items. I prefer e-books over books for their convenience, and I prefer digital games over physical ones, as I don’t like to have dust even more items when cleaning.
Again, like in the first point, producing discs and cases uses up a lot of materials and resources, and produces a lot of plastic.
I admit, it would be nice and maybe logical even if retailers would motivate people to buy digital by lowering their prices. After all they save money by not having a middlemen for logistics, production and so on.
However one might make the argument digital gaming also leaves a huge carbon footprint, but in a less visible way.
So there is not really a good solution here, but of course these things don’t necessarily depend on the gamer either. Companies need to change their ways, they need to come up with plans to reduce their impact on the environment.
Luckily all big industry leaders made vows to lower their carbon emission in the upcoming decade. Of course we will yet to see if these things will come in effect, but in the meantime, I simply choose to not hoard more plastic via my passion for gaming.
Donate and sell
There are 5 R’s of waste management. Many people think recycling is the most important one, but on the contrary, reducing comes much sooner in the list.
By selling, or even donating old games, accessories you prevent someone to buy a new copy of a game or a new controller. Yours does not end up in a landfill, and a new one does not have to be produced and delivered. (of course figuratively speaking)
This is one benefit of physical copies, that the same item can remain in circulation. You have a game that you don’t and probably won’t play anymore? Make a quick buck by selling it.
Also, last year I had a few games for PS4 that were old and never used anymore. (Mortal Kombat XL, Just dance 2018, FIFA 2017)
I simply posted them in a Zero Waste social media group and gifted them away for a family who could not necessarily afford to buy many games for their kids. They were happy, I was happy for them, and the items were kept in circulation.
Of course you can just sell them, but my experience is that sometimes it’s simply not worth a few dollars to go through the fuss of negotiating with buyers. I just give them away.
Like I said, the last step of the 5 R’s is recycling.
Gaming obviously generates a lot of harmful waste with plastic and the metals used in the circuitry.
While a plastic case can be easily disposed of in a plastic recycle bin, some parts are more complicated.
Please, if you have a broken controller, headphones, or any computer component, Google where you can dispose of these safely in your area.
In my case, I need to visit one of the shops of MediaMarkt, where they gladly take electronic waste off your hands.
Just please don’t throw it into the communal bin or even the plastic one. It does not belong there. Places which specifically collect these items are having the means to salvage components and materials, so they can be reused.
Consider if you really need to upgrade
Now this is something that might be a bit harsh for some, as upgrading your setup is the bread and butter for many people.
However in the light of all of the above, you can reflect a bit and consider if you really need to buy new components.
Manufacturers create a sense of urgency, a fear of missing out if you don’t constantly keep your hardware up to date. But sacrificing a few FPS or God forbid lowering the graphics of a game for once does not mean you miss out on anything grand.
Again, this is just a recommendation to consider.
My last recommendation is a no-brainer. Most or all systems these days offer a sleep, or low power mode where indeed the console or PC uses less energy. But it is still unnecessarily used electricity.
So please use shut down whenever you can.
The weight of the world is not on your shoulders. There are far bigger players out there who have a far bigger responsibility than you. However what we are doing now, is definitely not sustainable. At a certain point in time, this cannot go on like this and things have to change if we want to survive.
But in the meantime, you can do your part and encourage others to do the same. No need to be nagging or annoying about it, but you also should never feel ashamed for wanting to live on a cleaner, more sustainable planet.
Also I hope your take from all this won’t be something like “yes, but cars, planes are more polluting, or what about crypto miners?”
You are responsible for your own actions and pointing fingers without doing anything at the same time will not change anything. You do you.
My personal choice is to do my best within my own possibilities to leave a carbon footprint as little as possible, without giving up things that I am passionate about.
If you liked this article, please consider following my blog for more gaming related content. Also I am very curious about your thoughts on the topic, so please leave a comment if you have something on your mind.