Earth Day is April 22nd, but you don’t need a special day to tell you we’d probably all do well to take a little better care of our planet. One of the toughest obstacles of this century has been disposing of eWaste – all those electronics you don’t need anymore. Throwing them in the trash isn’t the best way to go, but information has historically been scant on what exactly to do with it all. That is changing now, with more disposal centers popping up ready to accept all of those ancient electronics (so, three, maybe four years old). But, getting rid of eWaste properly is just one way we can pitch in to make our tech as eco-friendly as possible. Here are four ways to go green in time for Earth Day.
Trade In, Recycle, or Donate
Sometimes, those old gadgets really are just dead. In that case, If you’re not crafty, hit up a local eWaste recycling facility, or, better yet, haul it with you on your next Best Buy run and let them take care of it. With Best Buy’s Trade-In program, you can drop off your old gadgets, and Best Buy will properly recycle or refurbish your eWaste. Depending on what you’re trading in, you may be eligible for discounts on new gear. You can also consider donating them. Freecycle and Per Scholas are a couple of websites that handle tech donations. Just be sure to wipe your hard drive before you say your final goodbyes to your old computer. If you want Geek Squad to back-up and wipe your data for you, contact them 1-800 GEEK SQUAD, geeksquad.com or at any Best Buy store.
One good way to deal with waste is to make sure it never becomes waste at all. Annually, the world produces between 20 and 50 tons of eWaste, thanks to shorter and shorter life spans for our gadgets. Cell phones last 22 months on average, with computers coming in at two years. That is an awful lot of tech piling up in trash heaps. Thing is, most of that stuff probably still works. Tired of a slow-running computer? Pop some extra RAM in there and see if that doesn’t help. RAM is cheap enough, so the risk isn’t too great. Updates and cheap hardware upgrades can extend the life of some gadgets, and with how much they cost, you might as well squeeze every last penny of value out.
Don’t think you can stand using that barely-old tech for another second? Head over to Etsy, and I’m sure you’ll get an idea of how you can “upcycle” that gadget into some contraption that someone might actually buy. Just paste some gears and brass screws on there. The Steampunk card goes far.
Use Less Paper
This one is only getting simpler and simpler. With email, tablets, and portable projectors, the need for paperwork is diminishing quickly. Paying for bills online and getting bank statements via email are easy ways to cut down on paper waste. The venerable Post-It is quickly being replaced by free smartphone apps that handle note-taking duty in a much more convenient way, while almost all major event and airline tickets can now be handled wirelessly and paperlessly using a smartphone. If you must print something out, here is a cool trick you might not have heard about yet – Ecofont Sans. This free font can be downloaded, and cuts down on toner use by adding tiny, barely noticeable holes into the type.
Apps for Efficiency
Lastly, you can check out the droves of apps out on various markets made to help you live a more efficient, eco-friendly life. Efficiency Pro and greenMeter are both apps for drivers that evaluate driving styles and collect statistics to help users reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions. Some GPS applications even include “most fuel-efficient” routes, in addition to “shortest” routes and “fastest” routes. It’s simple, and it’ll probably save you a fair amount of coin at the same time, too. Not a bad deal.
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