No dearth of Earth Day tech tips
As one example, the first Earth Day-themed pitch arrived in my e-mail back on Feb. 19. It noted that April 22 was "quickly approaching" and touted such gadgets as a solar-powered battery charger and iPod headphones and speakers made of "recycled and natural materials like wood, hemp and cork." Most of the PR suggestions I've received since have followed that pattern: Buy our great new products to help protect the environment!
As a tech columnist, I feel obliged to join in the festivities, but I'll try to keep my advice brief, affordable and -- in the finest environmental tradition -- recycled from last year's Earth Day post and other writings I've done on the subject.
1. Set your computer to go to sleep automatically. Not only will you save on electricity -- most machines use about the same amount whether they're asleep or off but plugged in -- you'll also save time you'd spend waiting for the computer to boot up and shut down. The Climate Savers Computing page offers detailed instructions for Windows and Mac machines.
2. Realize that older electronic devices can be a major energy drain. As I've found in my own tests, although a new LCD or plasma HDTV may draw a fair amount of current when it's on, it will consume next to nothing when off -- while an older CRT set can require a few nightlights' worth of juice full time. Unplug those old sets when you're not using them.
3. Or recycle them -- just don't toss them out in the trash. See this Help File item from December for advice on that. First, though, you'll want to wipe your data from an old computer and erase it from a cellphone.
4. Compact fluorescent bulbs really do work. And not only do they use less electricity, they last a lot longer. If you've never used one before, start with ceiling fixtures that have required you to get up on a ladder twice a year to replace incandescent bulbs. (And no, you don't have to worry about the mercury in CFLs, as those tree-hugging pinkos at General Electric explain in this Q&A.)
As I write this, it's a beautiful day in Washington. So I'll make one other suggestion: if you must remain in front of a computer, give my stuff a break and go read our gardening columnists Adrian Higgins and Barbara Damrosch instead. Then step away from the computer altogether and get some dirt under your own fingernails--it's the right time of year to get a garden started or renew last year's efforts.
Have other tips to share about the intersection of electronics and the environment? The comments are all yours.
April 22, 2010; 10:34 AM ET
Categories: The business we have chosen , Tips
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