4 Ways to Green Your Electronics
This post is sponsored by Sprint.
Much of the convenience of modern-life can be attributed to technology – our gadget-run world means (for better or worse) that we never have to be out of contact with work, family or friends again. We can watch our favorite TV shows whenever and wherever we want. We can wake up to our favorite tune and already have fresh brewed espresso waiting for us. Of course all these luxuries aren’t without a cost. Though many of these advances have gotten less expensive, the amount of energy used for consumer electronics as well as information and communications technologies is estimated to actually triple by 2030 if we don’t take action now.
Here are four easy tips for living a more energy-efficient life!
|Kill the Phantom (Load):
Vampire energy or phantom loads (the electricity consumed by a device when it is turned off) amount to approximately 5-10% of a household’s energy bill. While it might not sound like much, across America this number adds up to a whopping 43 billion kWh of electricity annually! Just think of all the cell phones, digital cameras, iPods, televisions, etc. that remain plugged in even though they’re fully charged. Be conscious of what you’re leaving plugged in unnecessarily, and install a power strip to make the process much easier – that way you only have to flip one switch!
Whenever possible, choose electronics that come with a rechargeable battery (like most cell phones and newer digital cameras) or supply your own (for gadgets and toys). They may cost more upfront, but can be charged hundreds, even thousands, of times and will end up saving you money. While 350 million rechargeable batteries are sold each year, the rechargeable battery market still only amounts to less than 5% of all battery sales! So spread the word, and make sure that when the useful life of any battery has run its course, dispose of it properly – heavy metals can contaminate our surrounding soil and waterways. Check out greenbatteries.com for more information.
|Recycle Old Electronics:
The biggest downside of an electronic upgrade is the old, abandoned gadget. Technological treasures are home to a variety of heavy metals and toxins that can be released into the environment when sent to landfills or incinerators. Before you purchase a shiny, new gadget, make sure you have a plan for your old one. Many manufacturers will take back their old models (Dell or Toshiba for example) and some will take back any model (Sprint will buy back old Sprint or Nextel phones, but accepts models from any wireless carrier for reuse and recycling). Check out earth911.org for any questions and a list of recycling programs in your area. You may even be able to make some green with eBay’s EZtradein.com where you can get cash for your working pre-owned products. By ensuring that electronics are properly taken care of after their useful life, we can reduce the amount of hazardous substances released and enable the reuse of many materials, thus reducing the amount of raw, virgin resources needed for newer models.
|Old is the New… New:
We all get excited about the latest toy – but often a “previously enjoyed” product will fit our needs perfectly (and fit the BILL even better). Garage sales and flea markets can be excellent offline resources, and both eBay and Craigslist have endless options. Assess what your electronic needs are and then see if you can find something secondhand before grabbing the newest model – you might find your perfect match has had a little history. But if you do go for new, search for a model that is RoHS compliant and check with a trusted source to find one that is best for you and the planet.
*Top image courtesy of hippyshopper.com