From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
And, she discusses the PC obsolesnce.
There would be an interesting story for Servers in a data center in that a typical life cycle is 3 years before server hardware is osbsoleted out of a data center and possibly accelerating to even shorter times given the fast pace of energy efficiency improvements. Jim Lynch in a technet article discusses how PCs are recycled.
One of the most amazing aspects of the Community MAR program is that it is able to supply licenses for Windows® 2000 and Windows XP for only $5 USD. MARs supply these licenses—over 200,000 a year—on refurbished PCs to nonprofit organizations, schools, libraries, colleges, and, in the U.S., technology-access programs for low-income or disabled individuals. In this way, Community MARs reach those on the wrong side of the digital divide, providing access to educational and employment opportunities.
Shouldn't the same be available for Servers? One statistic I've heard is that 30% of servers are sold to Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Think of how many communities could benefit from the servers powering search. The problem is it is easy for a corporate culture to recycle servers. It is far to easy to scrap the IT hardware to insure protection of intellectual property. All it takes is one law suit to scare the attorney's to make it a corporate policy that all IT hardware will be destroyed.
Google has a good excuse in scrapping/destroying their server hardware in that who can run anything on their non-standard hw. What is the environmental impact of Googles' server hw ewaste vs. its latest renewable energy initiative?