Earth Day: 5 Quick Tips For Greener Tech

Earth Day, which has been held annually in the U.S. on April 22 for the last 43 years, is a moment for education about and support for environmental protection. Founded in 1970 as a teach-in day by Senator Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day marks a time to work together on renewable energy, recycling and preservation, as well as to celebrate the life that exists outside our phone and laptop screens.  

There is no better time to than Earth Day to reflect on how best to use and recycle technology while staying conscious of power use. These 5 tips won't save the planet, but they will make your own tech use a little greener: 

1.  Monitor Your Sleep Mode Preferences

IT solutions provider En Pointe Technologies points out that computer use during off hours is a huge energy waster that driving up facilities costs for businesses. One way to curb this problem is to stay on top of your power management and energy-saver preferences, ensuring that your devices go to sleep in a timely manner when not in use. 

2. Unplug To Avoid "Vampire Power"

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), devices that are in standby mode but still plugged in add up to an extra $10 billion in energy costs per year. The solution to the effects of vampire power is to always switch off power strips, or unplug at the end of the day or before the start of a long trip. This goes for not only PCs and laptops, but for smartphones and tablets as well.

3. Recycle Your Old Tech

Numerous retailers, from Apple Best Buy to Staples and Office Max, have technology-recycling programs that allow you to either drop off or send in your unused devices for environmentally safe recycling. Apple's Recycling Program is a great start for any and all iDevices, and the Environmental Protection Agency has a great searchable database for donation and recycling by device and company. And even enterprises can contribute by relying on recycled technology when appropriate.

(See also Refurbished IT: A Cost-Efficient, Green Approach To Big Data.)

Why is this so important? "Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year," says the EPA, and for every million cell phones recycled, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

4. Put Up Barriers To Office Printing

It might seem hard to believe what with all our electronic gadgets, but the average office worker still uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. Mixed in with that huge stack of paper is a considerable chunk of un-retrieved print jobs, where someone prints something off and ends up never picking it up. By adding authentication, like the scanning of employee ID, to initiate printing, businesss can cut down on the amount of paper wasted in the office. 

5. Go Fluorescent

Fluorescent light bulbs may not be as sexy as power-saving algorithms on your smartphone, but they arguably make a much bigger difference to the planet. Fluorescent bulbs enable a number energy-saving factors that reduce power consumption. Compared with incandescent bulbs, a standard fluorescent bulbs lasts 10 to 20 times longer (35,000 hours vs. 2,000 hours) and use 75% less energy. They also produce 75% less heat, which helps cut airconditioning costs.

Replacing your home or business' incandescent light bulbs with eco-friendly fluorescent ones is a huge step towards an overall greener tech footprint - without even touching your computers and mobile devices. 

 

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