Analog Wristwatches vs. Smartwatches: A Carbon Emission Perspective
Smart watches are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a range of features and functions that can enhance our daily lives. However, have you ever wondered how much carbon emission is associated with these devices? And how do they compare to the traditional analog watches that have been around for centuries?
According to a study by Ericsson, the Information and Communication (ICT) sector, which includes smart watches, has a carbon footprint of 730 Mt CO2-equivalents or 1.4% of overall global emissions. The majority of this footprint comes from the manufacturing phase, especially the integrated circuits that power the devices.
The study also found that the operational electricity usage of the ICT sector was around 800 TWh or 3.6% of the global electricity for its operation.
In contrast, analog watches have a much lower carbon footprint, as they do not require any electricity to operate and have simpler components that are easier to manufacture. Analog watches also have a longer lifespan than smart watches, which means they do not need to be replaced as often.
A typical analog watch can last for decades, while a smart watch may become obsolete or incompatible with newer software updates in a few years.
Longer Lifespan: Analog wristwatches, especially those of high quality, are built to last. Many can function for decades with minimal maintenance. Smartwatches, on the other hand, often become obsolete within a few years due to software updates and advancements in technology. This rapid turnover contributes to more electronic waste, which has a significant carbon footprint associated with its disposal.
Battery Consumption: Smartwatches require frequent charging, typically every day or every few days. This constant need for power contributes to electricity consumption. While the power usage of a single smartwatch might seem negligible, when multiplied by millions of users worldwide, the carbon footprint becomes significant. Analog watches, especially those that are automatic or solar-powered, require no such frequent energy input.
Manufacturing Emissions: The production of smartwatches involves the use of rare earth metals and complex electronic components. Extracting these materials and producing the components results in higher carbon emissions compared to the simpler mechanics of analog watches.
Simplicity and Efficiency: Analog watches serve a primary purpose: telling time. Without the need for multiple apps, touchscreens, and other features, they offer a straightforward function with minimal resource input.
Lesser Need for Upgrades: The tech industry thrives on regular product upgrades. New versions of smartwatches are released frequently, enticing consumers to replace their old models. This cycle results in more manufacturing and, consequently, more emissions. Analog watches, in contrast, are timeless pieces that don’t require regular upgrading.
Recyclability: Analog watches, being primarily metal and glass, are more easily recyclable than smartwatches. The electronic components and batteries in smartwatches make them more challenging to recycle, often leading to them being discarded in landfills.
Reduced Electronic Pollution: Electronic devices, including smartwatches, emit electromagnetic radiation. While the health effects of these emissions are still debated, there’s no doubt that analog watches produce no such electronic pollution.
Mindful Consumption: Choosing an analog watch over a smartwatch can be a statement of mindful consumption. It reflects a decision to use what is necessary and avoid the allure of multifunctional gadgets that might contribute more to environmental degradation.
Therefore, for people who are concerned about their carbon emission and want to reduce their environmental impact, analog watches are a better choice than smart watches. Analog watches are not only more eco-friendly, but also more elegant, timeless, and reliable. They can also serve as a reminder to slow down and appreciate the present moment, rather than being constantly distracted by notifications and alerts from a smart device.
Analog watches are not just accessories, but symbols of sustainability and simplicity.
As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, Every Choice Matters. Opting for a classic analog wristwatch is a small step towards a more sustainable future.