While Earth Day serves as a good yearly reminder to remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle, the commitment to being green means adopting practices that should become routine throughout the year. By this point we know that plastic bottles, aluminum cans, newspapers, etc. can be recycled but what about cell phones, televisions, and computers?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, of the 2.25 million tons of TVs, cell phones, and computer products that can be recycled, only 18 percent were collected for recycling and 82 percent were disposed of, primarily in landfills.
If you are getting rid of an old cell phone, AT&T offers the following tips to remember before recycling your wireless phone:
- Power off your phone
- Remove your phone’s SIM card, if it has one
- Erase your address book, photos, messages, and other stored information. One easy way to clear data from your device is to access the data eraser through Wireless Recycling’s Erase Cell Phone Data: Free Data Eraser.
Now that you have recycled the old, consider the following when shopping for new technology in order to be more green:
- Consider energy usage. Select an Energy Star-certified model with a power-saving mode and always consult the most current Energy Star ratings as they have gotten stricter with time. According to National Geographic’s Green Guide for Families, some large plasma TVs consume more energy than your refrigerator! Look for LCDs that use far less watts per square inch than plasmas.
- Evaluate whether you really need to make the purchase. When considering whether or not to buy a computer, ask if you really need one or if it is possible to share. Green Guide for Families urges giving careful thought to the purpose and necessary features of a computer. Sharing one is the “greenest” option but if the one in your home is old, then it may be time to upgrade to one with a more current Energy-Star rating.
- Buy used– CraigsList and eBay are our favorite places for purchasing used electronics. With the frequency that technology changes, chances are that you can pick up someone’s unwanted items that are just as good as new ones for less. In the past, we’ve gotten everything from digital cameras for the kids (a deal at $10 each!) to iPods to flat panel monitors. We’ve also sold our electronics via CraigsList too.
- Ask if the manufacturer has a recycling or take-back program for disposing of electronics. Since computers are made of metals that damage the environment and chemicals, they can’t be taken along with household trash. Yahoo! Green site has a helpful guide on where to start when recycling electronics.
- Packaging– One of my pet peeves is the amount of unnecessary packaging in everything from food products, toys, to computers. Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was upon opening up my HP TouchScreen Printer to find that the entire thing was packaged in a gigantic reusable bag, rather than plastic! Packaging printers in reusable bags rather than plastic and Styrofoam is only one way that HP is committed to the environment. After going on their website, I learned that there are many ways that they help consumers reduce their impact on the planet with innovative eco solutions and products designed to keep households green and save precious natural resources.
The above tips are adapted from National Geographic’s Green Guide for Families and Yahoo! Green’s Seven Questions to Ask Before Buying Electronics
Regardless of whether you are shopping for new technology or not, I like to support companies with green initiatives. Like HP, there are many companies that manufacture a variety of different products and do so in an environmentally responsible way. CNNMoney.com has a list of the 10 Green Giants but besides the large companies, there are lots of smaller companies that remain committed to the environment such as:
- Steaz– Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Eric, cofounder of Steaz. Steaz is a company whose mission is to “build a healthier world with great tasting, good-for-you beverages.” Their mission isn’t just about the bottom line, rather it encompasses using practices that benefit people, planet, and profits. The fact that Steaz taste good and the company does great things for the environment makes me far more likely to purchase them over another brand.
- Timberland– I’ve always been a fan of their shoes and love the idea of their new Earthkeepers line which is made with eco-conscious materials. The line includes the Greenside Slide which is “designed for disassembly” – meaning that 70% of its components come apart at the end-of-life for recycling. Plus, the outsoles are made with GreenRubber™ 42% recycled materials, such as tire crumb. Sustainable stylish footwear at affordable prices? Yes, please!
- Whole Foods– Supporting organic farmers, sustainable seafood, a commitment to reducing, reusing, and recycling, and community involvement sets Whole Foods apart from other grocery chains. Often referred to as “Whole Paycheck,” by those who think their prices are too high, a recent tour of my local Whole Foods market reinforced the idea that you get what you pay for and made me realize that the store’s 365 brand is highly competitive with other grocery chains but with all the fillers and artificial ingredients. Filled with high quality products, Whole Foods is committed to providing the the kind of food I want my family to put in their bodies while doing great things for the environment too.
For more information about maintaining a more eco-friendly lifestyle, visit National Geographic’s Green Guide for Everyday Living and Yahoo! Green. Both sites are treasure troves of information and provide guidance about everything including technology, buying, recycling, energy conservation, global warming, and will even aid in your hunt for a greener job. I particularly like the Home & Garden sections as an avid grow-your-own gardener who anxiously awaits our first garden harvest of the season!
This post was inspired by National Geographic’s Green Guide for Families, the Silicon Valley Moms Blog Book Club pick for April and Yahoo MotherBoard’s April blog topic: Going Green for Earth Day. No compensation was received for this post however I did receive a copy of National Geographic’s Green Guide for Families for review. I also attended an event at Whole Foods sponsored by Steaz where I learned about the eco-friendly practices of both companies and received a goody bag full of samples.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama