Friday, November 11, 2016

Can You Go Green and Still Use Technology?

Today, I'm happy to feature another great guest blogger.

Electronics are often produced with toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Due to the manufacturing process, many gadgets aren’t exactly eco-friendly. However, living without modern technology isn’t for everyone, and certain career choices make it impossible to avoid using the Internet or having a smartphone on hand.

Those trying to live a green lifestyle wrestle with the question of whether or not technology can fit into their way of life. So, is it possible to go green and still use technology? Here are a few considerations that might be able to answer that question.

Finding Sustainable Electronics

Surprisingly, certain electronics are manufactured in a more eco-friendly manner, and EPEAT has a database of hundreds of gadgets that have a less negative impact on the environment overall. EPEAT’s registry uses medals to rate different electronics, and you can search by manufacturer, type of device and country to find what you’re looking for. At the moment, you can only search for computers and displays, imaging equipment and TVs, but hopefully more categories will become available in the future.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on EPEAT’s registry, consider contacting the manufacturer of the device you own or are interested in for more information. Another option is checking Energy Star’s website to find which products are certified as being energy efficient. Though Energy Star won’t tell you whether or not specific electronics are manufactured in a more eco-friendly way, they can give you an idea of how much power something consumes relative to similar devices.

Prolonging Device Lifespan

Once you have your devices, it’s important to make them last. Even if they made it on to EPEAT’s registry, you can reduce waste by using them for as long as possible. One way to do this is to use security software and other preventative measures to keep your gadgets in tip-top shape.

If security software can be used (such as on computers, tablets, and smartphones), consider installing an anti-virus and using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. An anti-virus will detect malware and viruses on your device and assist in removing them whenever possible. A VPN service works to safeguard your privacy and protect against hackers.

Most importantly, the proper software can prevent Internet-enabled devices from crashing due to a cyber-attack. Another way to prolong the lifespan of your device is to update software and operating systems as often as possible. This protects from hackers, too, by patching up vulnerabilities within your software that might make a cyber-attack easier.

Reducing Electricity Usage

Besides using only Energy Star certified products, you can reduce your electricity usage when using your gadgets. Some devices have power-saving modes you can enable, and that will help you keep the battery from draining as quickly. To see if this is a possibility on your device, look through the settings.

Another way you can reduce electricity usage is to remind yourself to turn off or shut down your devices when they’re not in use and unplug them. Consider making it a part of your daily routine so it becomes habit. Using a power strip in your home can make this process easier, as you will simply have to turn the power strip’s switch on and off instead of unplugging chargers and other devices you aren’t using. This is especially important because power is still supplied to your gadgets when they’re plugged in but not in use!

Recycling and Upcycling Old Gadgets

If your device does end up crashing and becoming unusable, you can recycle—or upcycle—it to reduce waste and prevent more potentially harmful chemicals from ending up in the landfills. Though your waste management company who picks up your recyclables every week isn’t likely to pick up any electronics for recycling, you can find an electronic recycle center nearby.

Best Buy is a well-known company that has an electronic recycling drop-off box, but if you don’t have a Best Buy nearby, no need to worry. The Earth911 Recycling site will provide you with a list of places where you can take your gadgets to dispose of them safely. Another option is to offer your items to a repair specialist who might want them for parts.

For example, if you have a computer or appliance that is no longer usable, contact the appropriate repairs specialists to see if they would make use of them in any way. You could also reach out to local artists who like to upcycle old tech—perhaps they can use some of the components in a sculpture.

Using One Device to Go Green

Technology can be a tricky subject when it comes to going green, but so long as you prolong the lifespan of your devices (electronics, in particular) and dispose of them properly, that can be helpful. With a smartphone or tablet, you can literally use one device to complete a variety of tasks and as an alternative to purchasing additional items. For example, a smartphone or tablet can replace a camera or MP3 player entirely. With the use of apps on these sorts of devices, you can forgo buying measuring tools, pedometers, calculators, radios, clocks and more!

Think of how many of the above items end up in the landfills every year. So, in a sense, you can go green and still use technology. It all depends on whether or not you’re using it responsibly and choosing the most sustainable products available.

About the Author: Cassie is a tech writer for Secure Thoughts. When she’s not busy writing, she’s looking for additional ways to reduce her carbon footprint. Most of all, she enjoys sharing tips that can help others go green without completely avoiding modern technology.

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