Most of us use a computer at some point in our lives, and many of us sit at them for most of the working day. However, our use of computers, laptops, and other tech devices is rarely something we think about when we think about our environmental impact or living more sustainably.
The concept of green computing is the practice of making our IT habits more environmentally-friendly which, as these devices have become such a large part of our lives, is a very beneficial habit to get into. Here are some green computing examples and how they help to reduce our environmental impact.
Buy an energy-efficient computer or laptop
Buying an energy-efficient computer is a great example of green computing, although it does require an investment. You should look for devices that have been awarded the Energy Star label or any other valid certificate of a high level of energy efficiency.
You could also avoid buying a new device if you can, opting for upgraded or refurbished products instead, which are far less wasteful. However, these devices should still have good energy efficiency.
Turn off your computer and monitor when not using
Just as we should be doing with light switches and appliances, all your devices should be switched off when they are not being used. Even in standby, these devices will still use power from the mains. For wireless devices like laptops and tablets, leaving them on but not in use will still drain the battery, meaning you have to charge it sooner the next time you go to use it and charge it more often.
Turn the brightness down where possible
Just like turning off your devices when they are not being used, any steps you can take to prolong the battery life or reduce the power demand needed to operate them is an example of green computing practice. Having a brighter screen requires more power to light and will drain your battery quicker. You should also allow your display to turn off or go to sleep after short periods of inactivity.
Some websites and applications also have a dark mode which can help you limit your use of the bright white screen. SearchScene, for example, is an environmentally-friendly search engine that has a “dark mode”, which can further reduce the power output from your monitor.
Only print when necessary and recycle any paper
Most correspondence can now be done digitally, through email and file-sharing services, and in most modern working environments there is very little that needs a printed hard copy, especially if multiple copies are needed for each employee.
Printers use a lot of power and a lot of paper gets wasted through unnecessary use, so make sure that anything that does get printed gets recycled. You should also buy refillable ink cartridges rather than buying new ones each time and opt for recycled printer paper.
Keep your laptop updated
Another example of green computing is to keep your computer updated with the latest software and drivers. This will ensure that it runs at optimal efficiency, therefore reducing the time and power required to complete tasks.
You can also get hardware upgrades for many devices, such as a more energy-efficient battery, more RAM or a higher-performance graphics card. All these changes can potentially make your laptop run much more efficiently.
Recycle your electronic products once they reach the end of life
When you do change your electronic devices, throwing them away or even keeping them gathering dust in a drawer are not environmentally-friendly options. Electronic products can be recycled so that they can be broken down and reused to make new devices.
Some retailers or services may offer you compensation for your old devices when you trade them in. Even very old models that you think won’t be of any value to anyone will still have valuable components that can be used.
Have your default search engine as one that fights climate change
Probably the easiest example of green computing to implement is to switch your search engine. There are a number of charitable search engines out there with a focus on environmental issues, such as cleaning up the plastic in our oceans, reforestation projects and protecting wildlife.
SearchScene is our charitable search engine that donates 95% of advertising profits to charities, and you can choose which of these your searches contribute to or split donations between them all.
We spend so much time using electronic devices, so we need to consider how we can make this time more environmentally-friendly. These examples of green computing are a good place to start and can be carried over to your use of most electronic devices, not just computers.
This article first appeared on Medium.