you ever wondered how we are impacting the environment through our
growing reliance on technology? Personal computers in our homes have
added to our daily personal consumption of paper, electricity and
chemicals. Here are some tips for reducing technology’s contribution to
global warming, or maybe just reducing your power bill.
your power consumption: Whilst
your power bill shows the impact of your technology on your wallet,
what you can’t see is the environmental impact of producing that power.
Goodbye, screen saver: Screen
savers were designed as a moving image to prevent a still picture from
being ‘burnt into’ a monitor, after being displayed for too long.
Instead, consider setting your computer to turn off your monitor after a
period of inactivity.
Most commonly found in printers, some technology components can be set
to ‘sleep’ or ‘standby’ when they are not actively being used, using
Standby modes still consume power however, so physically turn your
technology off at the wall at night when you leave the office, if
If your computers run
processes like backups after you’ve left, schedule them to shut down
automatically later in the evening.
Consider setting up your
power boards so devices that can be powered off overnight are on one
Some computer monitoring and updating processes require your computers
to be on at all times. You can turn off the monitor screens, but check
with your local Computer Troubleshooter about shutting down your PCs at
When purchasing technology, check out the device’s power consumption
ratings and power saving modes.
If available, choose a device with an ‘Energy Star’ label.
This was introduced in the USA to show consumers that an appliance had
met certain energy efficiency standards, and has been licensed for use
in other countries including Japan, Australia and the European Union.
LCD monitors have been
shown to require approximately half the power of traditional old CRT
style monitors. Now you have a great reason to upgrade to a ‘flat’
screen, apart from the fact that they look great.
travel: Transportation continues to be a major contributor to carbon
emissions around the world. Fortunately, technology now allows you to
share files with remote locations and even use audio and video across
internet links. Consider if you can work remotely or participate in a
computer-based video conference, rather than booking that plane ticket.
… your paper
Is the ‘paperless’ office really possible? How many documents appear on
your computer screen via email, only to be printed out?
electronic invoices and emailing them to your customers.
Use a printer with a
double-sided (or ‘duplex') feature, to halve your paper consumption by
printing on both sides of the sheet.
Use the ‘editing’ or
‘mark-up’ functions in your word processor to highlight and comment
within documents on your screen and then email them back to the writer.
Train yourself to read as much as possible on your computer screen. Our
natural inclination is to print a large document to read it, as we are
used to a paper-based world.
… your current technology:
If your computer has slowed down, think about your options
before you throw it out the door and rush to by a new one.
Off to the mechanic: A software
‘tune-up’ may help to improve your computer’s performance. Your local
Computer Troubleshooter can remove unnecessary temporary files and fine
tune settings to help your computer run more efficiently.
Bits and pieces:
You may be able to upgrade some of the individual components inside your
computer, instead of needing to purchase a new, complete system. Extra
memory (RAM) or a faster processor may make a significant difference and
be cheaper on your wallet.
Software like Microsoft’s “Terminal Services” may allow you to run
newer, more intense software programs on older computers, without
needing to upgrade them. There are some considerations to this (for
example, you will need a Server computer) but it could be worthwhile if
you have a significant number of older desktop computers.
One person’s trash:
Who else can use your old technology? If you have to replace your
hardware to keep up with the latest version of your business software,
it might be perfectly suitable for a student who wants to write
documents and browse the internet. See if there are any groups in your
area who clean up old computers and redistribute them to people who need
paper: How many more uses can you find for your waste paper before
it ends up in a rubbish bin?
Pack it up: Shredded
paper makes great packing material for items being posted or transported
in an office move or house move.
Local pet shops can’t get enough shredded paper to ensure a nice, clean
stay for their animals.
Note the other side:
If your printer can only print on one side, use the reverse, blank side
of any unneeded documents to write your grocery list or provide drawing
paper for your children. Cut a sheet up into 4 smaller squares and keep
by your telephone for writing down any messages.
your waste paper: It is good
business practice to shred any printed documents containing sensitive
information (customer details, financial projections etc). But what
happens to your shredded paper? Many companies now offer recycling
services for paper and cardboard, if it’s not already part of your
standard local waste collection.
old computer hardware: Don't
just discard your old computer monitors and other equipment in the
trash. Not only is it bad for the environment, it's also illegal as many
of these components contain hazardous material. In North
County San Diego,
EDCO providers an equipment recycling dropoff location in San Marcos.
ink and toner cartridges:. These
components can leak dangerous chemicals and should be disposed of
safely. Many recycling programs can separate the inks and plastics,
sending the plastics on to be used in objects like road barriers and
Contact us about
how we can put these
and other tips into action for you.