Technology plays a crucial role in our daily lives. However, it also has a significant impact on the environment: The manufacturing, use, and disposal of technology is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, toxic waste, and electronic waste.
According to a report by the United Nations University, the world generated 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste in 2019 alone — that’s equivalent to the weight of 350 cruise ships!
Fortunately, there are many ways we can reduce our impact on the environment by adopting sustainable technology practices. These practices can range anywhere from choosing digital receipts, to properly disposing of your old laptops and devices. So, without further ado, here are 10 everyday sustainable technology tips that can help you make a positive impact on the planet.
1. Turn Off Your Devices When Not in Use
It’s a simple tip, but turning off your devices when you’re not using them can go a long way in reducing your energy consumption. Even when your devices are in standby mode, they still use energy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, standby power consumption accounts for up to 10% of a household’s electricity use. This means that devices left plugged in and turned on, such as televisions, computers, and phone chargers, continue to consume electricity even when they’re not actively being used.
By simply turning off these devices when they’re not needed, we can significantly reduce our energy consumption and our electricity bills, making it a win-win situation for both the environment and our finances.
2. Switch to Energy-Efficient Devices
When it’s time to upgrade your technology, choose energy-efficient devices. Look for devices with an ENERGY STAR rating or EPEAT certification, as they consume less energy and have a smaller carbon footprint.
There are many electronic devices available with ENERGY STAR ratings or EPEAT certifications, including:
- Computers (desktops, laptops, tablets)
- Monitors and displays
- Printers and scanners
- Audio and video equipment (speakers, home theater systems)
- Lighting products (LED bulbs, fixtures)
In addition, some ENERGY STAR certified appliances include refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, as well as clothes washers and dryers.
EPEAT certification is also available for imaging equipment, such as copiers, scanners, and multifunction devices. Keep in mind that not all electronic devices are eligible for these certifications, so be sure to look for the labels and do your research!
3. Use Rechargeable Batteries
Did you know that disposable batteries can be harmful to the environment? They contain toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead, and mercury, which can leach into the soil and water if not disposed of properly.
When these batteries are thrown into landfills, the chemicals can pollute the environment and harm wildlife. Additionally, the production of disposable batteries requires the use of non-renewable resources such as metals, plastics, and acids, contributing to resource depletion and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
To reduce the negative impact of disposable batteries on the environment, it’s important to properly dispose of them at designated recycling centers and consider using rechargeable batteries instead. They may cost a little more upfront, but in the long run, they’ll save you money and help the environment.
It’s important to remember that all batteries, even rechargeable ones, are toxic and need to be disposed of properly.
4. Recycle Your Old Electronics
When it’s time to get rid of old electronics, don’t throw them in the trash. Instead, recycle them! Many stores and companies like Repowered offer electronic recycling programs that ensure that your electronics are disposed of properly.
You don’t want your data falling into the wrong hands after you dispose of your old electronics – that’s why it’s important to find a reputable IT Asset Disposition partner that can provide documentation showing verification of data destruction.
Each year at Repowered, we undergo an annual R2 Certification, through which our processes and procedures undergo a rigorous audit. This ensures that we are held to the highest standard for safe and secure disposal and recycling of your electronics. Our high standards keep your data safe, and create a greener planet for us all.
5. Use Smart Power Strips
Smart power strips are an excellent way to reduce your energy consumption. By using advanced sensors and timers, these strips can detect when devices are not in use and shut off power to them automatically.
This helps eliminate standby power consumption, which can account for up to 10% of your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Smart power strips can reduce this consumption by up to 48%!
Smart power strips also offer surge protection, safeguarding your electronics from damage caused by power fluctuations. Not only do these strips help reduce your environmental impact, but they also make managing your energy usage a breeze.
6. Buy Refurbished Electronics
Buying refurbished electronics is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment. These are pre-owned devices that have been restored to their original condition and are sold at a lower price than new devices. Not only do they save you money, but they also reduce the demand for new devices, cutting down the negative consequences of electronics manufacturing.
When we dispose of our old electronics, they often end up in landfills, where they release toxic chemicals that can harm the environment. According to the UNEP, e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, and it’s estimated that by 2050, it will reach 120 million tons annually.
By choosing to buy refurbished electronics, we extend their lifespan, reducing the amount of e-waste produced and creating a more circular economy. Buying refurbished electronics also conserves the raw materials and energy needed to produce new electronics. Next time you need a new device, choose refurbished!
7. Use E-Tickets and Digital Receipts
Instead of printing out your tickets or receipts, choose e-tickets and digital receipts. This reduces paper waste, saving trees, water, and reduces your exposure to toxic chemicals.
According to the Green America organization, it is estimated that in the US alone, over 3 million trees and 10 billion gallons of water are used each year in the production of receipts. Additionally, it’s estimated that up to 49% of receipts are discarded or lost, resulting in significant paper waste.
Furthermore, an estimated 93 percent of paper receipts are coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS), endocrine-disruptors that are linked to reproductive problems, type 2 diabetes, thyroid conditions, and other health concerns. So, next time you’re asked if you’d like a receipt printed or emailed, opt for the digital copy — for both the health of the planet and the health of your body!
8. Opt for Online Communication
Traveling for meetings can be costly, time-consuming, and can result in significant carbon emissions. Nowadays, there are so many great digital tools out there for companies to use that it’s hard to justify in-person meetings over online ones.
Using video conferencing and online meeting tools such as Zoom and Google meet can help companies reduce their carbon footprint and mitigate their impact on the environment by keeping people off the road and in their offices. Whether you’re meeting with business partners, clients, or staff members, there are a wide variety of useful tools and features to enhance your meetings and improve productivity, including:
- Screen sharing
- Virtual whiteboards
- File sharing
- Recording capabilities
- Real-time collaboration features.
It’s easy to see how this simple sustainable technology practice can benefit both the planet and your business objectives and goals.
9. Choose Eco-Friendly Phone Cases
Did you know that over 1 billion plastic phone cases are sold each year? Phone cases are essential for protecting our devices, but the way people use and dispose of them can be incredibly wasteful.
The average American buys a new phone every 21 months, which also means buying a new case and throwing the old one out. What’s more, some people see phone cases as a fashion statement, and will buy multiple cases to match different outfits!
But there is a solution: Next time you go to buy a phone case, instead of a plastic model, look for an eco-friendly phone case made from sustainable materials like bamboo or recycled plastic. Check out companies like Pela for the world’s first compostable phone case, or Carved for unique phone cases made from wood and epoxy resin.
10. Use Green Cleaning Products
Cleaning electronic devices is an important part of their maintenance and longevity, but it’s essential to consider the environmental impact of the products used to clean them.
Many traditional cleaning products contain harmful chemicals such as phosphates, ammonia, and chlorine, which are not only harmful to the environment but can also be damaging to the devices themselves. These chemicals can cause discoloration, damage screens, and affect the performance of devices.
Eco-friendly cleaning products are made from natural and biodegradable ingredients, such as plant extracts and essential oils, that are safer for the environment and less likely to cause harm to electronic devices. You can find them at your local health food stores and supermarkets.
The Bottom Line
Adopting sustainable technology practices doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. By implementing simple changes in our daily lives, we can all contribute to a healthier planet and a better future. From using smart power strips and digital receipts, to online meetings and eco-friendly cleaning products, using these tips together can make a significant difference in your environmental impact.
If you have any old electronics that you need to dispose of, choose a certified ITAD vendor like Repowered. Call us at 612-260-9427 to recycle your old electronics or to purchase refurbished electronics. Let’s do our part to protect our planet today and work to create a better tomorrow!