By Mark Harris, AwarenessToolkits.com
Going green doesn’t mean going low-tech. It’s true that electronics have an impact on the environment, from the non-renewable resources used in manufacturing to the disposal of toxic e-waste, but electronics are also a powerful tool for reducing our carbon footprints. With high-tech tools here to stay, it only makes sense to use them for good.
Here are five ways you can use technology to live a more sustainable life.
Fight paper pollution with e-bills
Switching to paperless bills is one of the easiest things anyone can do to go green. Going paperless does more than save trees and water, too. When you opt to receive bills by email, you also cut down on pollution associated with transportation and paper and ink manufacturing.
In addition to opting for e-bills, switch newspaper and magazine subscriptions to electronic versions, opt-out of junk mail, and download a note-taking app like Evernote or AnyList to replace pen and paper.
Cut the cord and save money
Compared to the cost of cable television, streaming services are a huge money saver. However, lower subscription fees aren’t the only ways that ditching your cable box saves money.
Cable boxes are also major energy users, with the most energy-efficient DVR boxes using 20.2 watts while powered on and dropping a measly 1.2 watts when in standby mode. According to VentureBeat, this can account for as much as 10 percent of your home’s vampire power usage.
Most streaming devices, on the other hand, use under 10 watts per hour while streaming and even less while idle. With the option to stream all your favorite channels live, a streaming stick TV device is the obvious choice for shrinking costs and your carbon footprint.
Save energy with a smart thermostat
How often do you remember to turn down the thermostat when leaving home or heading to bed? If you’re like most households, you’re more likely to leave your thermostat set to a comfortable temperature all of the time than adjust its settings several times each day.
Doing so, however, has a big impact on your home’s energy usage: Heating and cooling account for more than half of the average home’s energy consumption. By installing a smart thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature based on living habits and weather conditions, you can save 12 to 23 percent on annual heating and cooling costs without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
Conserve water with smarter irrigation
The best approach to sustainable landscaping is to install native plants that thrive with minimal care. However, if your home landscape requires irrigation, it’s wise not to overwater. Not only is overwatering bad for your plants, but it’s also wasteful.
Manually reprogramming your irrigation system whenever rain is expected is tedious. Instead, install a smart irrigation controller that monitors weather conditions and soil moisture to water plants just as much as they need, no less and no more.
Use apps to shop sustainably
Being an eco-conscious consumer is overwhelming. From fast fashion to fresh seafood, there are a lot of environmental problems hidden on store shelves. Googling every product you buy isn’t practical, but what if there were an easier way to be a conscious shopper?
Apps make it possible to understand the environmental impact of nearly everything we buy. Fashion apps like Good On You rate clothing brands on ethical issues, while Ethical Barcode allows shoppers to simply scan barcodes to learn about the items in their grocery cart.
Of course, not everything is branded and scannable. If you’re concerned about overfishing of our oceans — and you should be — use apps like the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide or Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to learn where your seafood was caught or raised, how it was captured, and whether or not it’s threatened before you buy.
These technologies can help you go green, but it’s easy to undo the benefits of high-tech gadgets with improper disposal. Buy gadgets designed to last, opt for repairs over replacement, and when your gadgets reach the end of their lifespan, remember to recycle e-waste responsibly. After all, living sustainably requires thinking beyond the now — it calls for considering the full life cycle of our choices.
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