Ecobutton waste

16 years ago, mid-September | 8 Comments

Today we had a delivery of the ecobutton at work and I got to play with it a little. This USB device plugs into your PC and magically ecourages you to save electricity by putting said PC to sleep if you leave your desk (if you remember to push it). That’s the theory of it anyway. The trouble is I have a big problem with it. It’s not just that this device is made of plastic, probably the cheap nasty kind that kills you if you look at it in the wrong way. It’s not that it’s made in China, which means it either got to me via a cargo ship or an aeroplane spewing CO2 as it travelled thousands of miles. It’s not that it uses electricity while it’s sitting there doing nothing. It’s not even that it looks like it cost 30p ($0.52 ish) to make but sells for about £7 ($12.35 ish). The big problem with this device is the implementation. You know what it does? When you press the ecobutton it does this:

which brings up the Windows ‘Run’ dialog, it pauses for a second or two and then types “ecobutton” and a carriage return which, as you may have guessed, runs the ecobutton application which puts yor PC to sleep. Why would anyone who had more than one brain cell think that it was a good idea? Seriously why? Even if you were going to do this why would you do it in such a retarded way. I’m not a Windows programmer but I have done enough to know that mapping global hotkeys is trivial. Doing it that way would at least ensure that using the device on any other operating system would also be trivial.

The ecobutton may work as a reminder but then so would a sticker or a punch to the head both of which are preferrable to this shoddy POS. Don’t forget to plant 5 trees to offet the carbon used to make this and get it to your door or, again the more preferable alternative, don’t buy it.

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September 8, 2008 17:02


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8 Comments so far

  1. birger on November 26, 2008 13:10

    I just got one of these from Oracle after attending a seminar.

    I never installed the software. After plugging it in I quickly found out I don’t want that annoying blinking and intensity shifting piece of plastic in my field of sight when working.

    Since the CO2 has already been emitted, it felt wrong to just bin it. It will never reclaim its own pollution, but I decided to at least make it useful by turning it into a security device.

    I just created a file called ecobutton.bat in my PATH and filled it with

    @echo off
    rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation

    to get a nice ‘Lock Screen’ button. Then a USB extension cable and some double-sided tape, and I have a very visible lock screen button located by my office door so I always remember to lock my screen before leaving.


  2. ScaredyCat / Andy Powell on January 12, 2009 21:02

    Sounds like an interesting application for the ecobutton birger. 🙂

  3. giai on March 20, 2009 00:35

    You can run the eco-button software without having the button (download from

    Simply create a shortcut on the desktop (right click a vacant space on the desktop and click New – Shortcut) and enter the following in the location field: cmd /k ecobutton

    Double click on the shortcut whenever your want to send the computer into eco-button standby mode.

    Note: Despite the claims made, the eco-button standby mode appears to use the same amount of electricity as ordinary standby.

    To get the maximum benefit you must set S3 standby in the computer bios. This switched off everything except the memory. S1 mode runs just about everything except the CPU and uses about as much power as screen saver mode does.

  4. Wama on June 26, 2009 11:12

    At least the product will save you money and offset CO2 at some point, more than can be said for the PC that your’e sat behind at the moment writing ill informed comments, whats the carbon footprint of that & how much money does it try to save? I have one and granted, its not rocket science but 99% of the real world outside of the one that you seem to live in don’t have the knowledge or inclination to reconfigure the APM in the BIOS….oh! didn’t you figure out that’s what it did aswell?? Doh !

  5. ScaredyCat / Andy Powell on June 26, 2009 12:23

    This product will not save you any more money or CO2 output than simply shutting down your PC when you are done with it. The fact is pretty much every PC that’s around nowadays has sleep options which the user can configure if they want – users do not need to do anything with the BIOS at all . Most non techie types I know just power off when they are done. I’d really like to see your calculation on just when this crap will offset the huge volume of CO2 used to:

    a) Make it
    b) Ship it to the UK

    I’m pretty sure the plastic it’s made of will outlive us both.

    The PC I’m using now is a laptop which goes to sleep when I am done with it. I don’t know where you got the idea that the software did anything to your BIOS. It simply DOES NOT and you are deluding yourself if you think it does.

    I’m more than happy for my carbon footprint to be known which is why I publish it via twitter or Pachube

  6. Steve on July 31, 2009 05:23

    Yes, I 100% agree with your comment about the ecobutton. I don’t understand why people still believe it is helping our environment. If you alreay bought, please tell your friends not to buy it.

  7. Peter on October 27, 2009 13:59

    Oh dear, got you in a bad mood. What a pathetic rant over nothing. Everything you buy comes with a carbon footprint, so you buy nothing? No, thought not. For those who don’t program, and who aren’t quite as smart alec as you, the ecobutton is a qck and easy way of pwering down a PC for short moments like lunch or loo breaks, tap and you’re away, ratrher than typing in a command line [whichI’d wager most PC users don’t know how to, and ‘mapping global hot keys’ is as good as Chinese. In short, you’re a prat who likes to appear superior by putting everything down. And I would bet anything in your pricvate life you’re a total waster, of carbon as well.
    What all of you fail to get, is most people are users of computers, that means they have to work with it, they’re aren’t programming tossers who fiddle about all day with nothing to do except think they’re superior to everyone else. The plastic is around a gram, nothing, the savings in electricity and therefore carbon so far in around ten months have amounted to approx. £80. You waste time typing stuff in if you wish [but you probably just leave the PC running, you just said that to sound smart and caring for the planet] but the majority can benefit from something simple. And the green light has never bothered me despite working in an intensive job that requires concentration. Oh and intelligence. Wank on.
    As someone with an IQ of 168 according to Mensa, my one brain cell seems to be working more efficiently than your two sunshine.

  8. Bob Knob on October 27, 2009 16:13

    Hey Peter – you say the author was in a bad mood and ranting? LMAO – read back your own piece!

    Then have a Coke and smile and foff 🙂

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