Since the early 1880s, when the Industrial Revolution changed life as our ancestors knew it by introducing coal as a way to generate electricity in homes and factories, there was no doubt that technology brought hope for a better, more sufficient future.
Though it has made our lives better, and a lot easier, it is also no doubt that this effectiveness has brought some consequences with it — such as Climate Change via carbon emissions and deforestation to build more factories, to house more technological advancements.
Let’s keep in mind that today’s technological advancements are more eco-focused, meaning they are greener and more conscious of their environmental impact than in the past. But even if manufacturers and developers are focusing on being green, it still depends on us as consumers to bring our part when using the technologies brought available to us — such as your laptop, desktop, smartphone, and tablet.
Thus comes the term Green Computing, which is the process of saving energy when you are using computers, printers, and other electronic devices, as well as the disposing of electronic devices properly and eco-friendly.
But how does this apply to you? Well, my friend, you might not have thought of this but every time you replace your device or throw it away, this releases chemicals on landfills which are harmful to the environment and all of its creatures — and let’s not forget about the pollution that comes from factories that make new computer parts and other supplies (such as paper, and screens or new phone cases).
This can be prevented if we are careful and conscious of how we use our technology, and don’t keep getting newer devices whenever we can just because its a trend or gives us status. I say this because there are poor people out there who barely have anything and still have flip-phones from 2006, and there are well-off people who throw away old computers or phones, just to get a newer version.
How does technology impact the environment negatively?
- E-waste, which is discarded electronic devices, represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70% of overall toxic waste.
- It takes 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.
- Most countries still use coal and natural gas to generate electricity. This is a problem because we are constantly mass-producing new devices, thus increasing energy consumption — directly leading to more fossil fuels being burned.
- We can travel anywhere via boat, plane, or car. This access to traveling has led to more carbon emissions.
- Deforestation and toxic emissions generated to make space for landfills, factories, paper production, and more agricultural sites have been detrimental to our society.
- Toxic emissions from disposed of electronics can be harmful to the natural environment, as well as the creatures that depend on it.
How does technology impact the environment positively?
- Allowing telecommunications such as VOIP and Video Conferencing has reduced emissions caused by traveling, as well as paper & plastic bottles used by individuals during a meeting.
- By finding new ways to generate electricity without the need for fossil fuels, and allowing us to track our impact on the environment.
- New technological advancements such as electric & solar-powered transportation, will help alleviate the impact of carbon-emitting modes of transportation.
- The production of printed or lab-produced food that tastes and looks the same, such as Beyond Beef, will cut down on the need for agriculture, as well as offer solutions to world hunger.
- The Environmental Defense Fund is stepping up to the plate and dedicating its latest technological advancement to stopping methane emissions using satellites to track methane emissions virtually anywhere on Earth.
- Building smart cities that will stop traffic congestion and solve urban issues.
Raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second highest source of emissions and greater than all transportation combined. It also uses about 70% of agricultural land, and is one of the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution.
How can you contribute to this?
- When making a mistake whilst printing, don’t just throw away the paper. Instead, use the back of the paper and print it again.
- Recycle paper and ink toners instead of throwing them away, and use recycled paper instead.
- Donate and Recycle used computers and electronic devices to those who can make use of them instead of throwing them away.
- Be gentle with your computing devices by not being too harsh with the keyboard or screen as this might lead to you having to replace it.
- Use telecommunications instead of traveling if possible.
- Use and buy energy-efficient devices, they will usually have an indicator on them such as the Energy Star.
- Don’t leave your computer plugged in all day, only when it is under 20% charged.
- Don't leave your computer on all day. Rather switch it off if you’re not going to use it, as this adds to the hardware lifespan of your device.
- Don’t upgrade or buy new devices if it is not necessary.