My iPod’s name is Seth. He is a loyal companion who sings to me on command. His voice is surprisingly versatile and he never tires or complains. Two days ago he crooned Madonna while I ran along the Hudson River. Yesterday he did an Ira Glass that was, I promise you, eerily accurate; how he perfected Glass’s immediately recognizable nasal twang and breathlessly choppy cheerfulness remains a mystery that solidifies my cultish love for him. Seth is the man.

But at four years, Seth is an old man. He lacks color, cannot hold videos, and as one horrified technophile gasped as if I had placed a cockroach in her palm, he “has Chicago font!” If my friend’s disgust portended doom for Seth, Apple’s new line of iPods explicitly spelled it out in a law of Technologyland that Seth and I have been trying to ignore: Younger is better, and the elderly can’t cling to a human-based system like gerontocracy for safety. In short, the skinny, sexy, bright iPods are positioned to replace Seth.

The final bell tolled when Seth caught me shamelessly checking out an iPod nano on the subway. I tried to pass off my wandering eye as the curiosity of an innocent bystander, but both Seth and I knew that fate had arrived in five irresistible colors. There seemed no point in denying my needs. Seth cannot support my new collection of television shows and movies, nor can he fit into my breast pocket without ripping it clear off my shirt. And unlike neckties or shoes, a collection of digital music players is impractical. I cannot welcome a new iPod into my life without getting rid of Seth; watching him collect dust next to my 35 mm camera would be too painful.

Luckily, Apple offers a free iPod recycling program. The process is quick, easy and environmentally sound, which alleviates the guilt of abandoning Seth. Additionally, and of utmost importance to those of us who don’t regularly receive holiday cards from aunt Winfrey or grandpa Buffett, anyone who recycles an old iPod gets a 10 percent discount on a new iPod.

I don’t advocate taking your loved ones for granted. Seth and I, for example, have sought counseling to recharge our relationship; maybe we can salvage it. But if you feel compelled to buy, say, an iPod touch—which would require tolerating Apple’s questionable and infuriating omission of an email function — I encourage you to take the green, affordable route.

Story by Jim Sherwin. This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2007. This story was added to in July 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2007.

Recycle an old iPod, it pays
Apple's free iPod recycling program is quick, easy and environmentally sound, alleviating the guilt of abandoning an older iPod.