Lifestyle

How Green are your Gadgets?

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 Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd.    Why not take a look at how you—as an individual or family—can go green and help save the planet by lowering your carbon footprint? (Besides, of course, the Senior Planet lectures on saving energy listed at the end of this post.)

Technology is a double-edged sword when it comes to sustainability.  Most of us are addicted to our electronic gadgets, our smartphones, tablets, computers, and printers.  Sadly, manufacturing electronic components uses a huge amount of natural resources, as this report from the EPA points out.

The good news is that we can ‘go green” even with technology,  if we’re willing to make the effort.

Going Green and Tech

Now that the internet is our best friend, everyone wants the latest, greatest upgrade for their iPhone or Android. Since we aren’t about to go off the grid, we can at least be mindful about how we DO use and dispose of our gadgets.  Even better, we can take advantage of tech that can actually reduce our carbon footprint.

Go Green with your Gadgets

Here are some easy ways to green and amp your sustainability quotient:

  •  Don’t toss old technology. Companies may want you to buy the latest and greatest phone, tablet or computer–but do you actually need it?   “A record 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2019, up 21 percent in just five years” according to the UN’s Global E-Waste Monitor 2020. You should be able to get at least five years of use out of anything you buy—and possibly more. If you don’t want it anymore—sell it.  Look here to learn  how and where to get the best prices for your used stuff.
  • Consider getting devices repaired instead of replaced. Most malls have repair places like UBreakIFix that replace cell phone screens and repair computers.
  • Buy used. You can pick up great deals on used technology on eBay (which provides a buyer-friendly return policy). Amazon has a “used” section for all items, too.  Since there will always be people who must have the latest and greatest tech, there will also be dealers who sell their lightly used devices.  You can pick them up at a big discount.  This article has other suggestions on getting great deals.
  • Refill printer ink cartridges. If you’re a DIY type watch this YouTube video for instructions.
  • Don’t toss your old tech into landfills. Dispose of it responsibly.  If it’s relatively new, trade it in or sell it.  If it’s not, get rid of it responsibly.  Here’s an article about how and where to recycle electronics.
  • Switch your browser to Ecosia. They plant trees while your browse.
  • Dispose of batteries responsibly. Find out which batteries you can throw away and which you can’t.  It’s safe to dispose of ordinary alkaline batteries in the trash, but other types need to be recycled.  Here’s a guide.
  • Keep track of your electricity usage. “To get specifics regarding your energy usage, you only need one tool, really: an electricity usage monitor that tells you exactly how many kWh a device or appliance is drawing. The monitor can be as simple as a “plug load” monitor that plugs into an outlet; then you plug the device/appliance into the monitor. Typically, an LED screen displays the consumption.”  You can buy them on   Check out PC Magazine for more details.

Saving energy is limited only by your imagination and willingness to live sustainably.  Check out this blog for lots more ideas on how you can make a difference.

Want to learn more about saving energy and saving money?  Join us for an online lecture on lighting and smart bulbs, at noon EST on April 15 – details are here – or how to save cash on energy April 22 (link here) or smart thermostats on April 29. (link here). 

Erica Manfred’s articles and humorous essays have appeared in print and online publications including the Washington Post, Atlantic, Salon, Village Voice, and the New York Times.   A self proclaimed Geezer Geek, now in her seventies, she specializes in writing about aging.  She’s the author of four books, including her memoir,  I’m Old So Why Aren’t I Wise; Snarky Senior in the Sunshine State.   You can subscribe to her newsletter at SnarkySenior.com or visit her website at EricaManfred.com

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