The Armchair Environmentalist is printed on 100% recycled paper, which is a wonderful thing. But as a publisher myself, I know that it isn’t just trees we need to think about. Publishing is moving online, and onto computers, and like all information industries we are completely dependent on computers. I haven’t had much luck–so far–convincing the wonderful folks focused on ancient forests that another track is also essential.

I was thrilled to read Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, writing about this in his blog last week.

“Friday was also Earth Day. And reading some of the Earth Day PR coming from the big PC companies got me to thinking about how wasteful our industry is. Most of the PC companies made announcements last week that made it easier to throw computers away. And not like I’m going to go inhabit a tree anytime soon, but surely what we should be doing is figuring out ways to stop throwing PC’s away. And stop the waste more broadly, vs. making the waste more palatable. We are among the most wasteful industry on the planet. Want proof?

“The average utilization in a datacenter is 15% (what we see is tyipcally lower, but we like to be polite). That implies some 80% of the capital that goes to purchasing computers, 80% of the real estate, and best of all, 80% of the electricity to power and cool the unused systems – is flat out wasted. Greenpeace, where are you? Want to know how to solve at least the tech industry’s contribution to the power crisis?”

For specifics, read Jonathan’s Blog, which has lots of ideas.