Green technology is huge in the current consumer market. Seen in everything from household gadgets to wearable devices and even your car, it’s more than just a trend — it’s a way of life. While there are plenty of products that promote sustainability and environmental preservation, others simply use buzzwords to capitalize on the lack of consumer knowledge.
Determining the Eco-Friendly Properties of Green Devices
According to experts, 75 percent of the environmental damage caused by personal computers occurs during the manufacturing process. Not only is it important to use brands that practice environmental sustainability and preservation, but it’s equally crucial that defunct hardware is recyclable or, at the very least, reusable. Some of the most popular brands include Dell, Apple, Microsoft, HP and IBM. Apple, in fact, just pledge a 100 percent renewable energy commitment both with its products and the product supply chain.
To ensure your hardware is energy efficient, always look for the presence of the ENERGY STAR logo. Backed by the U.S. government and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ENERGY STAR represents a standard that applies to technology in every form and application.
Shedding Light on the Problems of Solar Power
Many proponents of environmental sustainability are quick to tout solar panels as a viable replacement for fossil fuels. While they may be able to lower our dependency on such dirty sources of energy, the manufacturing process of modern photovoltaic panels isn’t as clean as you might think.
The primary problem stems from the refinement of the raw materials needed to manufacture solar panels, which results in numerous toxic byproducts. Since the majority of manufacturers have moved their operations to smaller regions in places like the Philippines and Malaysia, most of the environmental impact is hidden from the public eye.
But you shouldn’t ignore solar panels altogether. Large-scale use of photovoltaic panels does have the potential to minimize our reliance on fossil fuels, and newer manufacturing methods — such as the thin-film solar-cell design — can clean up the manufacturing process and bolster production. Solar panels also still typically can help a household reduce their carbon emissions by three to four tons per year.
Monitoring Your Usage
Your day-to-day usage also has a detrimental effect on the carbon footprint of modern technology. Many don’t realize it, but one year of daily emails produces approximately 300 lbs. of CO2 — and that doesn’t count file attachments.
Social media also produces pollution. According to some sources, Twitter users produce 500 million Tweets per day — which amounts to 10 metric tons of CO2. To reduce your carbon footprint while online, delete any unused accounts, utilize cloud computing options and keep your personal computer running as cool and efficiently as possible.
Looking at the Future of Green Technology
Whether you’re trying to make a career in green IT or if you just want to lower your personal carbon footprint, there are plenty of avenues for you to pursue. The technology driving modern hardware isn’t perfect, but it represents a step toward a permanent change on the horizon.
Emily is a sustainably journalist and the editor of Conservation Folks.