These days many of us are thinking about the changes we can make in our daily life to help the environment. One area of our lives that has huge potential is often sitting right in front of us – our computer use.
This post doesn’t try to reiterate the argument for why people should make more environmentally conscious decisions – if you still don’t believe it’s worthwhile you’re unlikely to change your mind – but it does provide a good guide for those of you who want to be a little bit greener when it comes to using your computer for work or play.
When purchasing a computer there are so many things to think about from technical specifications to who manufactured it. On top of that you’ll need to work within a budget. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of opportunities to make a green purchase.
To begin with keep an eye out for models displaying the Energy Star service mark. These computers need significantly less energy to operate than those without the service mark. But it’s not just electrical consumption you need to think about.
Many computers are made using toxic substances such as BFRs (Brominated Flame Retardants) and PVC. The use of these materials can present a danger to the environment both during the manufacturing process and once the computer has come to the end of its life cycle. Look out for manufacturers that use safe alternatives – they won’t be shy about letting you know how their products are greener than the competition.
Finally, think about what will happen to your PC or laptop at the end of its lifecycle. When it is finally no use to anybody can it be recycled easily for its parts?
Cutting down on energy use
What’s the first thing you do with a new computer – connect it to your WiFi network? Change your desktop picture to the photo of Machu Pichu you took last year? Whatever it is, try to make adjusting your energy settings the second thing you do. As well as the in-built options provided by your operating system to conserve energy, there are lots of other power saving applications provided by third parties, such as WinOFF, that are easily available online.
You’re likely using more ink and paper than you need to, which in turn will mean you’re using more energy than you have to, and consequently you’ll also be spending much more than you have to. You can instantly cut down on your paper trail by only by printing essential documents, or using both sides of a page where possible.
But that will only get you so far – for an even more noticeable difference to your printer-related savings you can once again turn to third party programmes, which can get rid of those pesky adverts or unwanted images from the documents you need to print.
Finally, remember to keep your printer turned off while you’re not using it. In fact, that goes for any peripheral you might be using – from a second monitor to your wireless keyboard.
Shutting down for good
Inevitably there’ll come a day when you shut down your computer one last time. But then what? If it’s still fit for use perhaps you’ll sell it, or donate it to a worthwhile charity. If not get it recycled so its parts can be used to make something else.
Some companies will recycle your old model for you free of charge, while many stores will recycle your old computer when you buy a new one. There are other options as well – your local government may offer a collection service for example. As long as you make sure any information on your hard drive is completely wiped, you can rest easy knowing that you’re doing your bit for the environment. I guess your next job will be finding an even more environmentally friendly model…