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Greening Your Computer
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Greening Your ComputerHealthy Green Artists
by Janet Chui
It may reveal my age, but I have to admit that whenever I'm sitting at my computer, I feel like I'm greener just because I'm not working on paper at the moment. In a way that is true, but it's also debatable that this computer has that tiny a carbon footprint - mining is one of the most energy-intensive and environmentally destructive human activities in the world, and our computers and computer accessories have plenty of metal and precious metals, including some hazardous substances like mercury, lead, and cadmium. It's all too easy to forget that our magic boxes (especially the prettier they look on the outside) reached deep into the bowels of the earth for their components, released plenty of greenhouse gases in their manufacture, and are always a monstrous hybrid of both reusable and non-reusable materials held together by screws, rivets, solder, and glue!
I guess it's not something that gets mentioned very often in slick commercials and marketing campaigns. While there is no doubt our computers, notebooks, and laptops are extremely useful and allow us to communicate without paper, it is still high on the list of most resource-intensive items we own in our modern lives. Not only that, but we may find ourselves buying new computer systems more often than cars or major household appliances. Sometimes it isn't because the old hardware stopped working, but because it can't keep up with the latest software, which we want or need. (Ellen can tell you about that!) Or, and it's not all that uncommon, but we just want the new thing!
There's a lot of press to be found right now on new, greener machines and appliances on the market, but in the larger picture, I think it's just terrible advice to say "Go out and buy the latest energy-saving device, if you care about the earth!" While it may be great advice for household appliances that are energy hogs and that need replacing, computers (this month's EMG-Zine topic!) and any devices that use transformers for their power already use considerably less (but still doesn't mean we should load up on little gadgets!). Like some environmentalists, I think bigger environmental impacts come from caring about "big ticket" items. Consumerism, and especially the environmental impact of consumerism that surrounds producing and selling electronic gadgets, would be a big ticket item we can make an impact on. As in, we can choose to purchase only what we need, and to rethink what we really need.
Well, sometimes we really need new hardware. And if we do, it helps to know all of our options, many of them cheaper and greener than others.
Upgrading instead of replacing
Buying Second Hand
Buying Smaller Instead of Larger
Investing in Good Products
There's no end to the stories to be heard from other shoppers, salespeople and insiders, but it all comes down to this: Sometimes getting the best product goes way beyond and more complicated than deciding on which product and model number you want! It's aggravating, but a growing fact in this globalized age, as more and more manufacturing industries move into less developed countries.
Dealing with e-Waste and Techno Trash
Sometimes though, we're not throwing out old computers and gadgets - maybe just batteries or compact discs. Never ever just toss any kind of batteries into your trash, and this applies to cell phone and laptop batteries. Make sure they get to an authorized battery recycling resource. They contain some nasty stuff! When not in use, make sure to keep batteries away from heat.
Compact discs - ah, those little shiny circles of plastic! We can only make so many mobiles and wall decorations out of these, huh? When you've given up on them and need to get rid of them, check out the resources available now for recycling old data media.
Greening Your Electricity
Well, you know the drill. Turn off your computer when you're done with it for the day. And you should only need 20 more minutes for the rest of EMG-Zine, right?
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