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Greening Your ElectronicsPosted 12/06/07 • Last updated 09/26/11 • 187 views • 0 comments
Some companies (and therefore their products) are greener than others. Look for systems that have reduced levels of lead, cadmium, and mercury. Look for companies that are compliant with the EU directive called Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
- Before you go with something brand new, check out if someone's junk could be your treasure! Try buying high quality, functional used electronics. Check out your local yard sales or flea markets. Online, try Craigslist, eBay, and Freecycle.
- In 2006, Nokia and Dell were ranked as the most responsible electronics manufacturers by Greenpeace International (sadly, Apple ranked 11th out of 15 – but in May 2007, Steve Jobs announced a policy change affecting a phase out of all those nasty chemicals they used to taint Apple products...let's hope they actually follow through).
- A useful tool (though not totally perfected) is EPEAT, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. EPEAT covers desktops, integrated systems, monitors, and notebooks. Among the criteria to be EPEAT certified is reduction of heavy metals and hazardous materials, inclusion of recycled materials, energy conservation, product life elongation, and corporate performance.
- Another tool to check out is MyGreenElectronics. It covers products ranging from baby monitors to cell phones, from laptops to two way radios.
- Make sure you think about energy consumption when thinking about electronics. Of course, Huddler can help you there. Also check out EnergyStar to find qualified products. What's more, think about vampire power (if you're wondering what it is or how to deal with it, check out How To Reduce Vampire Power).
Buy rechargable batteries
- Look into solar chargers. They can be quite effective for cell phones, PDAs, iPods, etc.
- You can also download programs that help prevent printer waste or reduce energy usage when you're not using the computer. As always, the best way to prevent energy waste is to turn off your computer when you leave it for several hours. For more details, check out this article from Cleantechnica.
Extend the life of your product.
Sure, it's fun to have a new toy. But if your old standby (which may not be that old) still has some life, reinvigorate it! Try to avoid getting the latest and greatest model every six months. (Sometimes it is more effective and eco-friendly to upgrade when your product is very old...carefully evaluate where your electronics stand.)
Dispose of your old electronics properly.
- If it's still got some good life, donate it or sell it (check out any of the sources mentioned in 1-a. The EPA's Plug in to eCyling Program is one of the best ways to donate or recycle your used electronics. Also try eBay's EZTradeIn.) For cell phones, you can also donate functional ones for emergency 911 calls. Try Phones For Life, Call To Protect, or the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to name just a few programs. For more cell phone specifics, check out the Recycling Your Cell Phone wiki.
- If there's no useful life left, properly recycle your electronics (if you're not quite sure what "properly" means, check out Electronic Waste: The Legacy of the Digital Age). Look for a local recycler in your area (Earth911 might be able to help you out). Two crucial questions to get answered are where disassembly occurs and under what conditions; this will help ensure your recycler is actually recycling. Here are some national stores that offer cell phone recycling:
Alltel Sam’s Club AT&T Wireless Sprint Wireless Best Buy Staples The Body Shop T-Mobile Circuit City Target Costco US Cellular FedEx Kinko's Verizon Wireless Office Depot Virgin Mobile OfficeMax Wal-Mart Radio Shack
- One more thing, don't throw out those batteries! Use Earth911 to find somewhere to recycle them if they're not rechargable.
- Some manufacturers have take-back programs for their products. Look into it before you move on. It's also a good thing to take into account when you're looking for something new
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