As much as many of us would love to totally unplug from the technology in our lives, it may not be realistic for us to do so. Technology has become integral to our daily lives, and much of how we live is dependent on it, no matter how we live. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy says that the average American uses enough electricity to burn through 41 lbs of coal each day. That’s also equal to 30,491 burritos a year. I kid you not! While we probably can’t and won’t stop using our electronic technology right now, there are some ways we can be greener about it. Explore some of the ideas mentioned in this article and try to implement at least one of these strategies in your daily digital lifestyle!
Use a Green Search Browser
There are 2.3 million Google Searches per second, each of which generates .2 grams of carbon dioxide emissions. What if I told you that these searches would plant a total of 46,000 trees and remove 46,000 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere if they were done with Ecosia, a revolutionary tree-planting search engine?!
Ecosia was founded in 2009 when founder Christian Kroll wanted to act on his concerns about deforestation. Their business model is simple: the revenue from advertisements that appear as the top few options from your searches goes straight towards planting trees. Ecosia has planted 52 million trees and counting! They are also very transparent with their financial reports and can show you directly where your searches are planting trees. You can use Ecosia by simply searching on their website (ecosia.com) or adding it to the browser that you currently use!
Fundraise for your Favorite Nature Non-Profit on Facebook
If you have a Facebook account, you have probably seen your friends host fundraisers for non-profit organizations on their birthday. In just 2018, Facebook birthday fundraisers generated $300 million in donations to charities all throughout the world. All donations made to birthday fundraisers go straight to your favorite charity-- Facebook collects none of it! It’s easy to set up and is a very low-effort way for you to raise awareness and funds for nature non-profits on your special day! Click here to get started!
Shop with Amazon Smile
When you shop with Amazon Smile, a version that is virtually identical to the classic Amazon, 0.5% of the price of your purchase goes to a charity of choice. Since the average Prime user spends $1,400 a year on Amazon, their regular purchases would generate a $7 donation to their charity of choice. That may seem small, but if you extended that across the 80 million Prime users in the U.S., that is equivalent to $560 million donations. Severson Dells could certainly find a use for all of that money! Consider making this small change to your online shopping habits to make donations without any effort or additional cost at all.
Opt-Out of 2-day Shipping
Amazon is well known for its free 2-day shipping option with Amazon Prime, and several other online retailers offer similar programs. This express shipping is a major convenience-- I know I have used it countless times! However, if you are not in a last-minute pinch, consider choosing eco-friendly shipping. The slower ship time allows for your package to be consolidated with others if you are making multiple purchases and optimize their distribution process. In addition, many 2-day shipping supply-chains involve airplanes, which generate 2% of the global carbon emissions. Opting for slower shipping could take airplanes out of your supply-chain-equation. Sometimes you can even get credits for choosing slower shipping, as it saves these companies money too! Amazon’s No-Rush Shipping for prime members adds credits to their accounts instantly.
Use a Green Computer
While it is always best for the environment to use what you have or buy used, sometimes you just have to purchase something new. If you are in this situation for computers, consider purchasing a green computer! Many manufacturers are making options made from post-consumer recycled material that use less energy. For example, Asus has launched a Bamboo series that uses Bamboo in the construction of their laptops and is packaged in 100% natural and recyclable materials. The HP Slim Desktop PC 290 (ENERGY STAR) is a great desktop option that received a perfect score on Energy Conservation from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. The EPEAT registry is a great place to search for eco-friendly tech items across different categories, too.
Use a Solar Charger
Whether you are on the trail or your back porch, many of your electronics could benefit from solar charging! Recent innovations have made solar-panel chargers the size of a tablet accessible to the masses for under $50! Many feature rugged designs that are waterproof and can be dropped from considerable heights without damage. Check out a list of the best portable solar chargers of 2019 here.
Limit Vampire Power
Vampire power is a term used to describe the energy electronics consume when they are plugged in, even if they are turned off. The U.S. spends around $3 billion a year on vampire power. In fact, 25% of the energy your products’ energy consumption happens when they are turned off! Reduce vampire power by completely turning off and unplugging your tech when it is not in use. This means your TV, toasters, and computers should all be unplugged when you go to bed. You can also use power strips like this one to turn off multiple devices at once if you don’t feel like reaching behind your TV stand to unplug your TV every night.
Dim Your Screen
It take more energy to light up a white screen than a dark screen. Most people won’t notice a monitor or screen dimmed from 100% to 70%, but a dimmed screen could save 20% energy. Internet browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox offer “dark” modes to help save energy as well.
As you can see, there are many simple solutions anyone can adopt to green their online life. Just imagine how much energy could be saved if all internet users applied these ideas to their lives!