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Environmental Sustainability at Loyola: Green Tech

Green Technology

It seems as though everytime you turn around there is a new, cooler, faster, sleeker and more powerful gadget that we're told is the new must-have.

  • Yet, how do all these new technologies impact the environment?
  • What happens to all our out-dated gadgets?
  • What sort of environmental -friendly characteristics sh ould be looking for when buy ing new computers/smartphones/

How to Go Green: Gadgets

Treehugger.com has created a great How to Go Green: Gadgets guide.  Below you'll find some helpful excerpts.  (Check out the full guide here.)

Gadgets: The green impacts
Individually, gadgets might not seem like such energy hogs. However, take a moment to count how many gadgets you use. Gameboys and Play Stations, cell phones and Palm Pilots, alarm clocks and digital cameras. When we start to add up how many things we use on a regular basis, recharge by plugging in to the wall or popping in new batteries, or toss into the trash when they break, we realize that they make a serious impact. The sheer volume is enough to make us think twice about our consumption -- over 5 billion cell phone subscriptions (and far more cell phones) worldwide, about 1.4 billion television sets worldwide, well over 1 billion computers worldwide, and so many more devices we can barely count them. The environmental impacts are equally as difficult to tally.

Gadgets: Life cycle impacts
Not only do we have to look at energy use while we're running them, but at their entire life cycle. Measuring the impact our devices have on the environment means looking at them from cradle to cradle. Using the most environmentally friendly materials, manufacturing processes, and power sources, as well as ensuring they are properly recycled or repurposed at the end of their lifetimes are all essential elements of greening up our gadgets.

Getting greener gadgets
You might be thinking that your favorite electronics are now becoming a headache. But don't despair! We can definitely enjoy our devices while still helping to lighten their footprint. Doing simple things like charging properly, checking out Energy Star and Consumer Reports for input before purchasing, taking advantage of free recycling programs, or even making some money off our old devices are all ways we can seamlessly shift into eco-friendly gadget use. You don't have to ditch your well-loved cell phone or favorite game player to still go green. In fact, hanging on to your old devices for as long as possible before upgrading is one of the greenest things you can do.

Green Tech: Tips & Tricks

Top Green Gadgets Tips  (see the full list here!)

    1.   Get Expert Input Before Buying
      Take a look at Energy Star ratings, EPEAT ratings, Consumer Reports, and other expert sources to help you make comparisons among gadgets before purchasing. This will help you find the most energy efficient and eco-friendly items available to you.

    2. Buy Used
      Buying a pre-owned electronic accomplishes two excellent goals. First, you help to extend the lifetime of the gadget, lowering its carbon footprint, and secondly, you save money. With the rate at which manufacturers churn out new gadgets, buying barely used gadgets that are in great shape is an easy task and usually is much less expensive, even for the latest gear. There are great buyback companies such as TechForward that sell refurbished electronics, and places like Craigslist and eBay are also good places to look. Of course, the manufacturers usually offer refurbished gear at reduced prices as well. You might even find what you're seeking free of charge on networks like Freecycle. Read our list of buyback programs, and consider using one of them for your next purchase.

    3. Buy Recycled and Recyclable Gadgets
      Check out what materials are used in the product and go for gadgets that use low impact materials that are recycled or sustainably obtained. It is tough, so far, to find new gadgets made of recycled materials, but not impossible. If the device you're purchasing isn't made with any recycled materials, at least ensure that it is recyclable. If you want to go a step further, write to the company that makes the product you're after and let them know you're only interested in purchasing if they make greener choices in their production.

    4. Charge Gadgets With Renewable Energy
      Nope, you don't have to invest in solar panels on your house, or a wind turbine in your yard. There are small, personal charging devices that use solar or wind to power your gadgets. In fact, the off-grid chargers for gadgets is a booming market already worth over $2 billion, so your choices are vast and growing. There chargers that can soak up energy all day so you can plug in and recharge your gear at night, or even solar chargers that double as iPhone skins. For wind power, check out the Hymini wind turbine that can charge your cell phone or MP3 player just by sticking it out the window or taking it with you on a bike ride. And a popular charger that uses kinetic energy is the YoGen. Note: Most everything today is rechargeable. But just in case you're checking out something that isn't, be sure to go with rechargeable batteries, and ditch the alkaline. Go with Lithium Ion.
    5. Slay Vampire Power.
      For true gadget lovers, this may be the tip you enjoy most because you get to green your gadgets with more gadgets. Vampire power is the energy used by devices when they're plugged in but not turned on. Yep, even when devices are supposed to be "off" they're really not entirely off. Manufacturers are getting better at reducing how much energy their devices use while off or in stand-by mode, but you can do your part too. Prevent wasted energy first by unplugging any devices not in use or that are fully charged. Then, try using devices like smart power strips that cut the power supply to devices that no longer need it. Companies like Embertec and TrickleStar have several kinds of great devices that help you save loads of energy.

    6. Avoid Ooh-Shiny Syndrome & Use A Single Gadget For As Long As Possible.
      While some technology changes so quickly that this might not be possible, for the majority of gadgets you can get years of loyal use out of them before it is time to upgrade. This is especially true with cell phones, handheld gaming devices, PDAs and similar gadgets. While it is tempting to get a new phone when you renew your contract, or a new laptop when the faster, smaller version hits stores, ask yourself if you really need it and weigh your options before replacing your gear. If you're feeling the itch, check out websites like Last Year's Model that reminds us why it's awesome to avoid unnecessary upgrades.

    7. Recycle Your Old Gadgets!
      If you have a device that has reached the end of its useful life, you definitely don't want to toss it. Avoid hazardous e-waste by utilizing one of the growing number of free recycling programs. Many manufacturers like Toshiba will take back old gear for free, helping to make disposal easy on you and the earth. Check out local electronics stores, or check online for free recycling programs in your area. But be very sure that you're turning your electronics in to a responsible recycler -- one that promises not to export to e-waste dumps and abides by BAN guidelines. Check eStewards for listings of just such recyclers.

Subject Guide

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Niamh McGuigan
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