Would you choose eco-friendly tech, even if it took a bit more out of your budget?
You aren’t alone. The 2015 Sustainability Report by Nielson demonstrated that now, more than ever, consumers are happy to spend more on products which align with their personal values.
However, just because we value environmentally-savvy choices more than say, ten years ago, that doesn’t mean that we all have the spare cash floating around to pay for it.
If you’re trying to choose eco-friendly tech on a budget, then you have a few more things to think about that just reaching for the greenest option on the shelf.
Let’s talk about examples of eco-friendly tech to suit all budgets and make it that bit easier to go green without sacrificing quality or user experience.
Everyday Green Tech Choices
Making changes is all about the little habits rather than grand gestures.
Just because you can’t drop thousands on transforming the heating system in your house, it definitely doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in terms of the way you currently use tech in your life.
Here are a few simple choices that empower you to be a little more green every day.
1. Eco-friendly Search Engines
Full disclaimer: I had to uninstall Ecosia whilst researching this article because it wasn’t providing the up-to-date info I needed.
HOWEVER, I will be returning to it depending on what I am searching for.
Ecosia is a search engine and social enterprise, donating 80% of the money made through ads towards planting trees around the world.
If you’re popping online to buy something, you have a particular business in mind (Amazon/Facebook we’re looking at you) and you can afford two seconds to switch to Ecosia before searching and clicking the ad option, then you are helping to plant trees.
It’s not costing you much time, plus the actual search engine is really quite pretty so it’s worth the detour for that.
Give it a go next time you are heading online and you don’t really need to ‘search’.
2. Go Paperless
If possible, choose paperless.
Get receipts emailed to you, store information on the cloud (but please back it up!) rather than printing and filing, and if you must use paper, recycle it afterwards.
3. Choose Green Apps
We spend so much time on our smartphones, that a daily reminder to recycle could make some powerful habits.
Oroeco is a habit-tracker which makes things a bit more fun, as well as empowering the user with info to make better choices. It tracks your carbon footprint and helps you save money as well as saving the planet.
Trying to shop green and not sure where to start? Goodguide analyses products based on their composition and has a rating system to help you pick the ones with the most eco-friendly ingredients.
Other examples of eco-friendly apps could include Freecycle – a swapping site which tries to keep good things out of landfill. Download, and don’t throw out the next time you are decluttering. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, after all.
Recycling and Re-Using
It’s always better to use less! If you’re wondering how to minimise your environmental impact without sacrificing on style or UX of your tech, then here are some practical solutions.
Sure, one person can only make a small difference, but if you can set a great example for other people in your circle then positive change will come.
4. Say No to Packaging
Earth Day is April 22nd, and we need to pay more attention to plastic.
Only 10% of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year are recycled correctly, and it’s having a devastating effect on the planet.
Now, we aren’t saying that you have to boycott gadgets until they come in brown paper only, but you can certainly make your voice heard by signing the End Plastic Pollution pledge, linked above, and checking out the tips on reducing and recycling the plastic you currently encounter in the day to day.
If everyone uses less plastic, and starts to prioritise recycling the things they currently have, then we should see a big change in the amount of plastic waste causing environmental problems in the future.
It’s a big job to try and reverse, but we’ve got to start somewhere!
5. Learn to Look After Your Tech Better
Be honest … when was the last time you even pretended to read a user guide for a piece of tech? We know, it’s super dull, but it could save you time and energy in the long run.
Take the time to research the best ways to use your devices and you might be surprised at what you learn.
Often, when a device gets slow, it just needs to be cleaned up digitally, not replaced altogether.
As well as cleaning up files and folders, try to prioritise taking care of the hardware, too.
Whether you’re in the market for a new device or looking at your 18 month old smartphone thinking ‘I could clean this up a bit’, then make sure you get a durable case and screen covers.
It’s no longer a case of picking durability over fashion where accessories are concerned, either.
Do your research and pick laptop cases, phone covers and padded bags that look the part as well as keeping your tech as good as new.
6. Choose Reconditioned Tech
Every time you update your software, you are getting more out of your device.
So don’t fall into the trap of needing the latest model of everything. Just make sure you’re keeping it up to date, cleaning out your old files every so often and gutting the thousands of photos you can’t bear to part with yet.
One of the best ways to up your laptop game on a budget is to buy refurbished. You can get some really high quality reconditioned macbooks which go through rigorous testing and come with 6 month warranties.
All the quality, but a significantly smaller price tag, and an environment boost to boot.
No one need know that your sleek new machine isn’t factory-fresh … now what will you spend all that leftover cash on?
7. Recycle Your Current Tech
A few years back, Geekslab covered the news that government-sponsored waste reduction charity Wrap had introduced a trade-in scheme for tech. 40% of electronic gadgets end up in landfill, including the estimated £1 billion pounds worth of unused tech sitting in homes across the country.
Since then, the efforts to make tech recycling easier have only grown in intensity.
The Argos trade-in service is still going strong, so you can trade in electronics for credit for future preferences in-store.
You can access detailed advice on recycling tech and electronics, and find out more about upcoming community events designed to put the spotlight on recycling those bulkier electronics which keep ending up in landfill.