Today we celebrate earth day, a day where we as a community look for ways to help reduce our footprint and make the planet a better place for future generations. We all know and have heard countless ways to protect our planet, but many of us neglect a growing industry and problem that we face for years to come; The technology we use and love through energy, and electronic waste contributes heavily to our global footprint.
There are many ways to help solve this growing concern, and in this blog post we'll show you ten ways you can be a better earth citizen while still using the technology you know and love.
old cell phones
Old cell phones contribute heavily to our landfills. Each year millions of people flock to their carriers in order to buy the latest and greatest hardware. Unfortunately their previous generation phones often end up being discarded as a result. Fortunately there is a solu tion, many wireless carriers will also accept your old hardware and recycle it, or refurbish it for someone else to love.
Dealing with your batteries
Many kinds of batteries contain dangerous chemicals, and must be disposed of properly. When a battery gets placed in the landfill it can leak and leach into the water tables contaminating the water supply with toxic heavy metals. Certain types of batteries also contain sulfuric acid (such as the ones in your car) and can cause serious harm on contact.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your footprint when it comes to batteries is to use rechargeable batteries, or solar powered/hand powered devices. These solutions reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill, and can also bring substantial energy savings.
switch to LED lighting
Led lighting is a form of lighting that converts energy very efficiently into light without producing much heat. This means that the energy consumption for these types of lights is also much lower, even lower than the best compact fluorescent bulbs. A fortunate by product of these lights, is that the lack of heat also means their lifespan is much longer, meaning that fewer of these bulbs go to the landfill.
Use an LED computer screen, and TV
The same benefits that go with LED for lighting also goes to television. LED televisions are LCD TVs with LED back lighting. These televisions are much thinner therefore requiring much less material, produce less heat, and also use far less energy than their CRT counterparts.
turn off your computers
Many people believe that leaving your computer on all the time makes the computer last longer, and also means it's ready to go when you are. Regardless of the truth of this thinking, leaving your computer on all the time has the side effect of consuming more energy in order to run, and also wears down your equipment much quicker forcing you to replace it more often, and putting more into the landfill.
If turning your computer off isn't an option, consider placing it in standby mode, many of the benefits of leaving your computer running are still achieved, but in standby the hard drive platter is spun down, and many non essential system processes halted in order to minimize energy consumption.
Finally be sure to shut off your computer screen when it's not in use, even when the screen is "sleeping" or on standby, it's always listening for a signal from the computer to wake up which still consumes energy.
reduce screen brightness
this may seem like an obvious step, but even reducing your monitor brightness by a small amount can have a huge impact on energy savings. Consider dimming or reducing the lighting in your working space, and then lowering the monitor brightness to compensate. Also if your computer is located near a window, and you find you’re increasing the monitor brightness in order to compensate for the sun, use a set of blinds or even a piece of paper where the sun shines on the computer in order to cover the glare.
use tablets or smaller devices when you can
Tablets and other handheld devices have no moving parts, and also smaller screens meaning much less energy usage. Also since they generally have lower system specs, and low power processors to conserve battery life, they often have very small footprints. These devices are great for common tasks such as checking email, and social media. They also don’t have to boot up every time you want to use them, and they can help you cut down energy consumption.
unplug unused devices
There is a thing called ghost energy, which is the bi-product of devices that have adapters to convert the voltage provided by your wall socket to an acceptable level for more delicate electronics. The problem with this is that some power is used up during the conversion, even when you’re devices are turned off, and when portable devices are unplugged.
In most households there are a ton of these devices plugged in at all times; computers, printers, modems, routers, tvs, game consoles, sound systems, phone and tablet chargers, and more.
The amount of power lost to ghost energy isn’t as much as when devices are running or charging, but if left connected 24/7 it does add up. The only way to stop devices from eating up this ghost energy is by unplugging them, and for convenience, you can plug your computer and all its accessories, or all your home theatre components, into a single power bar (which you probably do anyway) and simply unplug the power bar when you’re not using it.
clean out your computers
while this won't provide substantial energy savings, but dust in computers does make the components work harder meaning some extra energy use. However dust does have a much darker side, and that is when it comes to device life. The processor generates electromagnetism while in regular operation, pulling dust and other particles into it causing it to heat up more, and shortening it's useful life. This means these devices end up in landfills more often.
The best way to combat dust, is use a can of air, or a vacuum with an attachment to clean these devices out. In an apartment with carpet bi-monthly, and if you have animals weekly. In hardwood floored areas, or in businesses this can be done monthly in most cases.
use only one monitor if you have a multi-monitor setup unless required
this may not apply to as many people, but many users may have a multi-monitor setup. This is great and even critical in certain occupations, however when casual browsing these extra monitors use twice the energy and stress the graphics card and processor making the computer work harder and use more energy.
When possible use just a single monitor, and turn off the others. Also unplugging the additional monitors when not in use, if they aren't used frequently, goes a long way in terms of energy savings.
Planned Obsolescence" is a tern a lot of people are not familiar with. Basically what it means is when companies produce a new product, they fully intend for it to no longer be useful after whatever lifespan they deem appropriate. in the case of electronics, it’s not very long, and when it dies, you’re forced to buy another one. (Yay, more profit!)
Some parts are actually designed to wear out after a certain amount of use, and they generally make it very difficult to replace just these single parts. If you’ve ever broken your cell phone’s screen and tried to have it repaired, you probably found it cost about the same amount as buying a whole new (and better) phone.
Aside from stuff actually breaking, they have other strategies to make you decide to buy a new thing. Sometimes software compatibility will be discontinued (if you had a phone that couldn’t run any modern apps, would you keep it, or upgrade?) and sometimes they just make you think your stuff is outdated. This is actually called “perceived obsolescence.” Every year, styles change and something way cooler comes out, (remember when computers were beige?) but if you just use your phone for calling and texting, or you just use your laptop for facebook and Youtube, do you really need to upgrade? Probably not, but it sure is tempting.
As tempting as it is, you can help save the planet (and money) by disregarding perceived obsolescence. You can’t do a lot about planned obsolescence, but you can do a few things:
- avoid buying overly cheap, junky electronics. In the long run, you really won’t be saving money anyway, because you’ll have to replace it, probably in a matter of months.
- If you don’t need the portability of a laptop, buy a desktop with lots of upgrading potential, so you can upgrade small parts instead of replacing the whole thing.
- Take good care of your stuff, and it will last longer. Cleaning the dust out of our computer regularly (as mentioned above) avoiding using your laptop on a bed or other surface where it can’t cool itself, and keeping mobile devices in protective cases are just a few ways you can make your devices last longer.
While we have limited our tips to 10 there are countless ways that you can reduce your footprint on the earth. Feel free to leave your comments below!