Your phone and tablet might not have exhaust pipes, but that doesn’t mean they’re so innocent when it comes to negative environmental impact. In fact, the world’s output of electronic waste, such as broken and discarded electronic devices, has been soaring for years. On top of that, our devices eat up huge amounts of energy, and that contributes to demand for the fossil fuels that are causing environmental destruction all over our world.
Fortunately, you don’t have to move to the woods and swear off technology to be a little more green with your devices. You can start small, with steps like using eco-friendly phone cases or keeping your device for a little longer. Even better, you can use technology proactively to live a cleaner and more sustainable lifestyle. Here are six ways to do it.
- If you need to throw away electronics, take them to a designated recycling point.
Did you know that many electronics are actually recyclable? Computers, TVs, cell phones and video game consoles are just a few of the devices that you can drop off at the e-recycling sites that many cities and businesses now offer. These e-recycling services break down electronic devices into their components and resell the materials, much like traditional recycling services.
In many cases, you can also send your device back to the manufacturer, and they’ll recycle it safely for you. What you definitely shouldn’t do is throw a device like a cell phone or game console in the trash. The components in these devices can potentially leach harmful chemicals into the water if they go into a landfill. Plus, with all the personal data that we keep on our devices, discarded devices have become targets for identity thieves.
- Use your devices for as long as you can.
It’s always tempting to grab the new flagship smartphone when it comes out. But if the old one still does what you need, ask yourself if you really need to upgrade. Slowing your consumption cycle of electronic devices is one important way to reduce e-waste — and naturally, it saves you money as well.
Taking care of your device is also an important part of this strategy. These tips will help you preserve your device for longer:
- Consider buying a device from somewhere that offers a warranty and/or insurance plan.
- Clean your device periodically, as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Invest in a quality protective case for your device, and don’t forget cases for your accessories, like an eco-friendly AirPods case.
- Don’t smoke around your device, and keep it away from pet hair as much as possible.
- Buy greener device accessories.
We sometimes forget about the accessories that go alongside our electronic devices, but they can be a problem in their own right. AirPods, for example, are notoriously hard to dispose of, and hard plastic accessories like phone cases are pouring into landfills as well. Don’t give up hope yet, though. There are more eco-friendly device accessories on the market now than ever before.
For just one example, compostable phone cases are more popular than ever before. That’s right — you can literally just toss them in the compost and they’ll biodegrade! Pela, the inventor of the compostable phone case, actually makes tons of other cool compostable accessories, even eco-friendly Apple Watch bands for your smartwatch. As sustainable materials continue to advance, expect to see even more green device accessories available in the future.
- Use smart home tech to reduce resource consumption.
The smart home revolution isn’t just about how cool it is to be able to turn on the lights with your voice (although yeah, that’s pretty cool!). These are some ways that you can integrate today’s tech into your home to help you live better while consuming fewer resources:
- Use smart thermostats and other smart home devices to track and regulate your home’s energy and resource use.
- Unplug your devices when they aren’t in use to prevent them from leaching phantom power from your electrical system.
- Install a smart lighting system to help regulate electricity by performing tasks like automatically turning off and dimming lights.
- Use LED bulbs in your light fixtures rather than incandescent bulbs.
- Purchase Energy Star-certified appliances to save energy.
- Use technology to power a sustainable lifestyle.
Even outside of the smart home, technology can be an amazing tool for discovering more sustainable ways to live. You can start today with any of these tips:
- If you live in an area where they’re available, use bike share or scooter apps to reduce your reliance on fossil fuel transportation.
- Instead of buying new, shop for used clothing, furniture and other items on secondhand apps like Depop and OfferUp.
- Use grocery list and meal planning apps to help you stock a wider variety of fresh foods and waste less of what you buy.
- To save fuel, have meetings through video chat apps when you don’t need to meet someone in person.
- Install a water bottle refill app so you’ll always know where to refill your canteen.
- Subscribe to a local produce delivery service to get great local goods delivered to your door.
- Embrace solar energy.
Renewable energy is an important part of our green future, and solar is the renewable energy tech that’s currently most accessible to the average consumer. Those who are ready to make a long-term investment in renewable power can add solar panels to their roof or yard, and you may even be able to get a tax credit for doing so. But going all-in right away isn’t necessary.
First, there’s cool gadgets on the market right now that can charge your personal devices using solar power, and many are available for well under $50. Furthermore, numerous areas now have community solar programs that allow residents to receive credits on their energy bills when they purchase a subscription to help fund local solar projects. Taking advantage of these options can go a long way toward creating sustainable power for the devices you use every day.