Here at EcoGeek, we love technology, gadgets AND the environment. In fact, we believe that technology and innovation may very well be what holds the solution to the environmental crises we're facing. So, when a recent survey revealed that a large majority of people would choose their gadgets or modern conveniences over the environment, it didn't surprise us, it just reaffirms that these things have to be made better, not removed from our lives.
The survey of 1,006 people by the Shelton Group found that when asked "If these things were harming the environment, which of the following would you be willing to give up?," only the following percentages would agree to go without:
- iPod - 38 percent
- Dishwasher - 35 percent
- Microwave - 25 percent
- Cellular phone - 21 percent
- Air conditioning - 14 percent
- TV - 13 percent
- Computer - 7 percent
- Car - 6 percent
- None of the above - 21 percent
- All of the above - 6 percent
A lot of these items have moved beyond conveniences to necessities, so it's understandable that people wouldn't want to make the sacrifice. Greenhouse gas emissions and e-waste pollution are concerns when it comes to most of this list, but, unfortunately, the environmental impact is hard to appreciate when you need to use any of these items. That's why until electric cars are common place, household electronics are made to be more efficient and everyone recycles, we'll keep bringing you stories of how we're getting closer to that day.
I remember, not so long ago, listening to Microsoft explain to me how much power Windows Vista was going to save. To me...it sounded a lot like a long-winded discussion of how much power Windows XP wasted. So now, here we are again, and we get to talk about how much power Vista was wasting (and how much 7 will save.)
It looks, in fact, that the changes will be fairly minor. DVD ROM drives won't be spinning up as often, and Bluetooth connectivity will remain inactive until a device triggers it. Windows 7 solves an additional problem as well. Previously, many businesses instructed their employees to leave their computers on all night so that they could receive software patches that came in every few weeks. Windows 7 now has a power-saving sleep feature that can be remotely turned off in order to allow remote software updates.
This, of course, is only useful to corporate clients, though that does make up a pretty huge amount of PC power use. Using the ultra-simple tools available in Windows Vista, Continental Airlines was actually able to save about $2 M a year in electricity.
A new study from the International Energy Agency estimates that, by 2030, consumer electronics will have sucked up 1,700 terawatt-hours of electricity. That's over $200B of juice. The study, however, points out that, if electronics companies put more efficient standards into place for consumer electronics, these numbers could be decreased dramatically.
So, no, they aren't asking us to give up our iPhones and laptops, they're asking the consumer electronics industry to pay attention to efficiency. With portable gadgets, this is something that's already being done (to extend battery life, not sustainability.) But personal computers and DVRs are huge power hogs that have never been designed with efficiency in mind.
Also, I should point out that this number isn't as big as it looks, as it's the combined energy use for the next 20 years, not a yearly number. But it is a significant and growing part of our energy use. If we can only keep an eye on consumer electronics energy use, however, I know we can drive this number way down.
The majority of modern-day electronics use a variety of potentially toxic chemicals, like arsenic, lead and mercury. While those chemicals are safely contained within pour electronic devices, if disposed of improperly into a landfill, they can leach those toxins into the ground and water table.
The world uses many electronics and creates a lot of e-waste, and the U.S. in no exception. To address people’s concerns about this potential harm, some laptop manufacturers have developed green models of their newest notebooks. Here are five of the greenest laptops on the market.
Lenovo Thinkpad X301
The Lenovo Thinkpad X300 was one of only 15 notebooks to receive the EPEAT Gold certification, a sophisticated standard by which a device’s components pass evaluation in terms of eco-friendliness. Its successor, the X301 follows the same standards, but comes with faster and even more efficient components – all in a professional-looking and highly portable package.
For starters, this laptop features mercury-free LEDs in the display. Its low-voltage processor can stretch battery life with the aid of special efficiency software, and the package that the notebook comes in is now 90 percent recyclable. Additionally, the packaging doesn’t include any cadmium, lead or arsenic.
Toshiba Portégé A600
The Toshiba A600 is Gold EPEAT certified and Energy Star 4.0 compliant; it boasts a few green attributes that set it apart from other eco-friendly notebooks. For instance, the laptop uses a processor that runs on extremely low voltage, but processes at 1.4GHz.
With an LED backlit screen, the Toshiba Portégé A600 is thin (less than an inch) and weighs only 3.2 pounds. Toshiba also earned praise from environmental groups with a promise to cut down dramatically on the use of harmful chemicals in their PCs over the next several years.
HP 2730p Tablet
HP stepped into the green laptop market with the HP 2710p Tablet. This eco-friendly notebook’s claim to green fame is a longer battery life, estimated at around six hours. The laptop is Energy Star compliant and comes with low voltage Intel processors at speeds ranging from 1.2GHz to 1.6GHz.
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE
This revolutionary laptop is one of the quaintest, greenest and most aesthetically pleasing notebooks on the market. The 1000HE model has a 10-inch screen and weighs just two pounds. The super-efficient Atom processor uses no more than three watts and the intelligent “Super Hybrid Engine” can automatically sense changes in the power needs of the CPU and components, adjusting voltage and LCD brightness to maximize energy efficiency.
Apple MacBook Air
This gorgeous laptop is also one of the greenest available. The display on the MacBook Air is without arsenic or mercury and the case is made from recyclable aluminum.
While it does have a very powerful processor, which runs on approximately 14 watts, the laptop does qualify for the EnergyStar 4.0 certification. Apple also paid attention to the MacBook Air’s packaging, reducing the amount of potential waste by roughly half.
About the Author: Emilia Johansson works for the laptop site LaptopLogic.com. On their site you can find lots of information on laptop computers, technology and gadgets.