Can keyboards ever move beyond plastics?

So as I’ve gone deeper and deeper into this awesome little world, had some prebuilt gaming keyboards for years and last year after ogling for a long time finally made the jump to customs and haven’t looked back. Group buys coming in and I’m ecstatic about builds, made boards for friends and gotten others interested, even have been prototyping my own keycap designs, desk mats, photography, all of it.

One thought I can’t seem to get rid of though is the long term impact at the end of the day, with a hobby centered almost entirely around plastics. Now I know in the scheme of things on the custom market the amount of extra plastics used are in no way equal to the waste that happens on a global and industrial scale, not trying to make anyone feel guilty here, but has anyone thought about something similar before?

Knowing that a legendary plastic company like LEGO basically had to be publicly shamed into just looking into a less environmentally damaging plastic alternative took years, but it’s at least happening.

Are there any brands or creators that have invested in any kind of sustainable materials over the years? Recycled plastics or even full alternatives? Not looking for greenwashed stuff but genuinely curious if there is any shared sentiment at least questioning the longevity of the scene when we’re probably the ones most familiar with things like e-waste.

I’m familiar with wooden boards and caps, resins and metals but was curious to see if anything else has popped up. Thanks in advance for any responses or discussion, cheers!

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Hasn’t one of the biggest problems regarding plastics use being that virgin plastic (not yet recycled) pellets is often cheaper than recycled plastic pellets to use in manufacturing?


U mean that the process to make the Legos is environmentally damaging?
Cus no one throws it in the garbage.

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I didn’t know that but makes a ton of sense!

Not suggesting many people toss LEGOs no, but they did make an announcement a few years back to move beyond plastics purely because they have the ability to do so. The plastic production process itself causes quite a bit of impact already without ever taking into account the example of LEGOs in a landfill or more appropriately keycaps.

What’s amazing and sort of fascinating to me is how long lasting older keyboards are, with the vintage market uncovering hidden gems all the time, but I do wonder what the upper limit of that is but they were certainly built to last.

One of the biggest counter arguments that I have heard is just how resilient plastic really is, how we’ve been able to make incredibly thin versions for food grade tools, medical grade, and then like I mentioned keycaps and even arcade machines holding up today (depending on manufacturing of course). I don’t think that many recycled or bio-plastics are ever created with the intention of longevity however, rather reducing the impact of when items are discarded, which is why I was curious about the topic to begin with.

Fair point though, Most of my LEGOs are still in my closet at home :stuck_out_tongue:


To the point that @skepp brought up with Legos, it’s probably the same with keyboards. Mechanical switches in keyboards last such a long time that detrimental environmental effects is probably something that would never deserve attention unless people are throwing them out and building new ones every year. I still have my topre board in my closet that I have had for 15 years (and probably won’t get rid of it until I die, even though I don’t use it anymore)

Normally when a reference is made to negative environmental impacts of plastic it’s in reference to single use or limited use plastic. As a species, we just don’t know what to do with the stuff when we are done using it, LOL. Sort of think of it like electric cars or solar panel… building them does damage to the environment just like gas cars. But it’s a net gain over several years because of how long they last compared to their petrol counterparts (at least on paper).

For those that do like the idea of making plant based parts for their boards I believe that PLA filament is made from plant starch. So you will see people make their cases by 3d printing with PLA.


If anybody in this world can afford to move to recycled plastic completely and keep the same prices (or even raise them because it’s more expensive than “virgin” plastic, it’s Lego. Ok, maybe GMK too.

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You’re very right. Perhaps just lumps sort of into the overall e-waste when you consider mechanical boards that are not built to last, cheaper thinner gaming boards that break easily etc.

I am always on the look out for old boards at thrift stores that stand the test of time though. And yeah the net gain is what any real difference is after, plastics don’t need to go away forever, they just have really built up over the years.

Thankfully it seems like the custom side of things really teaches people to cherish their items and objects closer to something like mid century modern furniture where reselling and holding onto items is even partly motivated by the value staying stable if not increasing 2x.

And to your point getting some items like second hand switches are actually nice because they are already broken in and smoother than when they are first purchased, particularly when it comes to linears.