Used Business Equipment: Go Green

March 11, 2009

 If your business is like most American businesses, you’ve got lots of technology backing it up: computers, fax machines, printers, and other office equipment.  But when those systems fail, maybe it’s time to make those electronics, if you’ll pardon my literary license, ride off greenly into the sunset. 

At the recent Greener Gadgets Conference sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, keynote speaker Saul Griffith, founder of Low Cost Eyeglasses and Squid Labs said that we “must embrace a culture of maintenance and repair since the throw away option is no longer available.”

Electronics such as computers, telephones, televisions and the like are responsible for both cluttering up our landfills and releasing toxic chemicals into the environment as they slowly breakdown.  How about when it’s time for used electronics and spent computer-related items to go, we send them off in a greener direction. 

For instance:
Cell phones: most cell phone manufacturers have recycle programs.  You can send them back to their makers who will either refurbish and resell them, or use them for spare parts.  You can also donate them to various charities or sell them for a little extra change online.  (If you do this, make sure that you remove all of your data.  We’ve all heard the nightmare stories, haven’t we?)

iPods: return old iPods to the manufacturer.  Apple will refurbish and recycle them or sell them for spare parts.

Computers and printers: return them to manufacturer when you buy the new one.  Many stores have a “trade in” as part of a sales deal to entice you in.  You can also turn them over to schools, charitable groups, libraries or churches. (Just have to make sure to get all the personal information out of the computer before you release it.)

Printer cartridges: *always* get recycled.  Even the small home-use ones are routinely sold with mailing envelopes for recycling.

TV’s: Millions of TV’s will be set out on the curb this year.  The “digital conversion” that has now been delayed to June has inspired many people to get new HDTV’s. Sometimes stores will remove the old set when they bring the new one.  Also because of the HDTV phenomenon, cash value for old tv sets is neglible.  Try freecycle.com. Or again, try the charitable groups and churches. 

You can see your business’ used equipment “go green” this year, with just a little extra effort on your part.


Greenifying At Your Desk

February 24, 2009

This blog doesn't endorse TV programs or products, but did you see the Academy Awards Sunday night?  Right in the middle of it all was a commercial (or two) for Apple
Computer's new laptop.  It's got a 17 inch screen, gorgeous resolution, is ultra-lightweight and all those other usual super "Apple" technological improvements that we've done to love and expect.
 
But this commercial bragged about something else.  It bragged about the battery.  It seems this battery can be charged to last as much as eight full hours on one plug-in.  And it can be recharged about 1000 times.  The advertisement pointed out that's three times the battery life that one normally gets for the ever-popular laptops that seem to be powering our businesses and lives these days.
 
Now, we're not suggesting that you run right out and buy an Apple 17-inch laptop.  That would be very expensive (Nobody said they were cheap; they start at over $2000 each) and also defeat that wonderful Greenifying aspect of the computer, namely fewer laptops and batteries in our landfills.  No, keep using the one you have until the very end of its life.

It's just nice to see that companies are starting to get it. They get that there's an alternative, Greenifying laptop computer choice out on the market right now.  And chances are, by the time that you are ready to replace or upgrade what you are working with now, all the other computer companies will be offering similar long-lasting chargeables with extra-long battery life, too.  And the prices will probably come down, as well.
 
It's good to see companies offering ways to Greenify businesses.  It's great to see that they understand that being “environmentally sound” is a marketable, advertise-able benefit that will bring in sales.  And it'll be even better when everybody gets in the Greenification game on that aspect of doing business.


Greener Computer Cooling for the Planet; for the Pocketbook

January 5, 2009

Could Greenifying the planet be as simple as using fresh air to cool your data center?  If that statement is true, it may also Greenify your company's bottom line. 

Ok, we're oversimplifying, but improving our environment is a step-by-step process.  Companies that use natural air to cool their facilities often see huge benefits on both the environmental end and the bottom line.  IT experts, analysts and environmentalists say there are plenty of opportunities for tech organizations to create more Earth-friendly operations, cut their energy needs and slash their carbon footprint, all while saving money.

A recent survey of IT executives showed a little reluctance on the part of some leaders. Nearly half (42%) said their IT departments have no plans to launch projects in the next 12 months to reduce energy consumption or carbon emissions, and nearly three quarters reported no plans to create committees to oversee energy-saving initiatives.  Those are delays which may force them to play catch up down the road.

"The green issue is not going to go away. There's too much at stake," says Rakesh Kumar, a Gartner Inc. analyst.

That's not to say IT leaders don't have their reasons for staying away from green computing. Kumar says some of them think it's a fad. And others, even among the educated and informed, believe global warming is a hoax and that there's no need to act on the issue, or they see green as merely increasing expenses.  It's time for those ideas to be updated along with energy usage patterns.

Increasingly, however, IT leaders and other executives are putting aside such concerns and pushing for green IT initiatives.

In the September 2008 "U.S. Green IT Survey" by IDC, the market research firm, 44% of the respondents said that IT plays a very important role in their organizations' efforts to reduce their environmental impact.  That number is up from the previous year's survey, in which only 14% of CEOs said they felt such concerns.

This year, however, another factor is in play.  The 2008 survey shows the high cost of energy is among the most pressing reason for changing how data centers and computers are cooled.

"We don't see many or indeed any companies that are hesitant to explore green IT projects," IDC analyst Vernon Turner wrote in an e-mail on this topic. "In fact, the scary thing is where to start, and it may be that reason why there is somewhat a feeling of lost souls. There has been a lot of marketing by the IT vendor community around green, and I think that CEOs and CIOs are 'green-washed' by it."

Cooling computers and other data and tech apparatus using natural air is earth-friendly as well as pocketbook friendly; two areas where expertise combines to be extra important in this New Year.


Make It Your Business to Greenify!

December 23, 2008

If we all resolve to work just a little harder in the coming year, we can see substantial movement towards a greener future.  Carrying that attitude from home to your place of business will compound the benefits.

But let’s look at the numbers on those annual resolutions:

  • 100 million: Number of people who make New Year's resolutions.
  • 80 million: Number of people who don't stick with their resolutions.

One in five people who make resolutions don’t keep them? Perhaps that’s because they have unrealistic ideas about what they are really going to be able to do.   So let’s look for small starts to a Greenified way to do business.

Start by checking your lights around the office.  Identify frequently used light fixtures that use incandescent bulbs; order fluorescent replacements bulbs.  You may think you need to do this over the course of time, but the longer you wait, the longer you pay higher utility bills.

Check the temperature on your water-heater.  Many businesses only offer cold water in their restrooms.  (In addition, they often provide lotion, because cold water and soap can have nasty effects on hands.)  At the very least, you’ll want to reduce the setting to 120°F (typically the “warm” setting; or halfway between the low and medium settings), if it is not already set to that temperature.

During the heating season, check the thermostat.  You may wish to set the thermostat lower, especially at night or when rooms are unoccupied. During the cooling season, set the temperatures higher. If you have a programmable thermostat you can automate the daily settings.

Switch off TVs, computers, lights, etc. that are not being used and unplug items on “standby” (that use electricity even when not being used) , including TVs, video and audio systems, computers, and chargers (for cell-phones and other electronic equipment).

These simple steps can save money and make your business a greener place to be in 2009.


Cyber Greenification

December 22, 2008

Have you thought lately about the computer that you’re using and how much it costs the environment?  Computers in the business sector waste $1 billion worth of electricity a year.

First, let’s consider the kind of computer that you have.  PC or laptop?  A standard personal computer uses a significant amount of more energy to operate during a daily work cycle than a laptop.  PC’s are the “6 cylinder engines” of the computer world.  What you want to be operating is more like a moped.  A laptop can pay for itself in the course of one year, in energy savings over a personal computer. 

Make it a policy to invest in energy-saving computers, monitors, and printers.  You’ll want to research, looking for energy-saver decals and then once you buy them, use the most energy-saving cycles possible. 

So now that you’ve got the computer, make a habit of turning it—and the power strip it's plugged into— off when you leave for the day. Otherwise, you're still burning energy even if you're not burning the midnight oil. (You definitely want to check with your IT department before doing this to make sure the computer doesn't need to be on to run backups or other maintenance.)

During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent. Remember, screen savers don't save energy.  Turning the computer off or putting it into hibernation both save energy.

When it’s time to get a new computer, look for a recycler with a pledge not to export hazardous e-waste and to follow other safety guidelines. Old computers that still work, and are less than five years old, can be donated to organizations that refurbish them, giving them another life in new homes.   (You may even get a tax deduction.)

Computers are part of our life, but they shouldn’t be allowed to take control of our environment.  And certainly not after they are done being of service.


Video Games and Their High Energy Consumption

November 20, 2008

Before you head out to start your holiday shopping you may want to think twice about bringing home that coveted video game system for your children. Do you have any idea how much energy is consumed by these video game consoles each year? These consoles require about the same amount of energy as it requires to power a major US city. Any guess on which major US city that may be?

Suffice it to say, I think you will be shocked. Take a look at a recent blog post on green.yahoo.com. Click here to read Lori Bongiorno's article on how non-green the video consoles are and if you guessed the right city. She even provides a graph of the annual energy usage of three major brands of consoles - Wii, Xbox and Playstation 3. If your goal is to Greenify your holiday gifts, a video game console is probably not going to be at the top of the list.


Green Business Alliance's Guest Blog on Farmers' Almanac

June 30, 2008

Easy Ways to "Greenify" Your Home 

Green Business Alliance’s Executive Director, Hilary Kusel, offers some helpful suggestions on how to Greenify your home for this special guest blog.
While reading Peter Geiger’s blog post on “Living Life Better,” I noted with interest that the 2009 Edition of the Farmers’ Almanac will contain tips on how to be green as well as how to conserve energy and water. Farmers’ Almanac has always had a focus on the environment, even before it was the ‘in’ thing. There is no doubt that living the green life has never been as hip as it is today. Along the lines of living green, here are a few helpful tips on how to Greenify your home. Some of the suggestions may seem subtle and even simple to implement, however they will make a positive impact on the environment and your place of residence.

Unplug appliances that are not frequently used. Many electronic devices and appliances, such as cell phones, computers, microwaves, dryers, televisions and more, consume energy even when turned off? While you sleep, when you go away, while in your house, and even when you are not, these appliances are using small amounts of electricity and costing you money. This phenomenon is known as phantom electricity. It can actually cost you a significant amount of money each year.

How can a device or appliance that is turned off use electricity? While “not on,” each device or appliance uses small amounts of energy in order to be ready to instantly work when it is switched back to the “on” mode.

To avoid phantom electricity usage, think about items that are plugged in to an outlet that you do not use frequently. Unplug them after each use. For devices or appliances that are used more regularly, consider plugging them into a power strip which when switched to the ‘off’ mode is actually not consuming electricity. The simple act of unplugging frequently can save you some money while reducing electricity waste and helping our environment. Start a new habit…unplug!


Plant trees and shrubs near your home. This can be fun for the entire family and great for the earth. Not only will the trees and plants provide shade and wind protection, but they can also save you money on your heating and air conditioning bills.

When you are deciding which types of trees to add to your landscaping, consider using native plants which have been growing in your area for hundreds of years. As a result, the native plants are adapted to the soil and climate in your area. They will likely flourish with less care (i.e. less water and fertilizer).

Filter your water rather than purchasing bottled water. The recommended water intake per person per day is about 60 ounces (between six and seven glasses). Water is a healthy and necessary daily drink to keep our bodies hydrated. However, the type of water we drink and the item from which we sip our water makes a huge difference.

The great part about making the decision to Greenify is that it is good for the environment, good for you and can be fun and educational for the entire family.

For more information on how to Greenify your home or business, please visit Green Business Alliance at www.greenbusinessalliance.com


The Latest Green Gadgets

May 27, 2008

Is it just me or does everyone like to check out all the new gadgets that the Green movement has been producing? I love my solar watch, not to mention solar radio/alarm clock. A friend of mine is waiting for her economic stimulus check to arrive in July, so that she can purchase a cordless electric lawnmower complete with a small solar panel to charge it.

Saazs has developed light emitting glass. Instead of a light bulb, the entire fixture radiates a warm light. The glass has been used in walls, tables and floors. You will have to go to Paris to see the showroom and then spend between E 4,300 and E 5,300 to actually get one of the lights. But, the lights will last for about 50,000 hours – or 20 years! And the Planilum technology used is very cool- 4 layers of a special glass, a rare gas and serigraphed phosphors.

The Solio has been around for a year or more, and is another gadget on my wish list. A little hand held solar charger, it can power up your cell phone, iPod, GPS, digital camera and more. One hour of free solar charging will give you twenty minutes of talk time. How great is that for those camping trips where you can’t afford to be out of touch with the office for long. And if your locale features more wind than sun, there is the HYmini, a handheld wind turbine.

Does your commute to work involve biking? Puma is now selling the “Stealth Visibility Bike”- a glow in the dark bicycle- improving your visibility on your way home after dark.

It is easier than ever to Greenify with some of these gadgets!


E-waste...how to reycle or reuse it

April 29, 2008

Inevitably, the technology equipment you invested in a few years ago, no longer meets the demands of your business. Or maybe you would just like a newer, shinier computer/printer/cell phone/what have you. But the old one is still functional, so what is the Green thing to do with your e-waste?

Fortunately, you have many alternatives! One of the easiest ways to recycle your cell phone is to donate it to a local domestic violence organization. Cell phones are generally able to dial 911 with no SIM card, and that may be all someone needs from a cell phone. If your company has many phones to dispose of, investigate options like ReCellular which will purchase your old cell phones, (with pre-paid postage for over 50 phones) or connect you to charitable programs such as Cell Phones for Soldiers.  I read earlier today that the amount of copper wire contained in cell phones disposed of each year could cover the Statue of Liberty, twice over. That’s a lot of copper!

If your computer or printer is still in generally good repair, one way to reuse is to call the local schools and see if they either need a used computer themselves or perhaps know of a student from a low-income household who could benefit from a computer. Computer donations to a non-profit institution may yield a tax deduction. Another option would be to Freecycle your computer. Dell, Apple, HP and other large companies offer recycling programs and your refuse hauler or local waste authority may offer a recycling program as well. If Waste Management services your neighborhood, they were the first electronics recycling company to achieve ISO 9001 and 14001 certification. Earth911 mentioned in Friday’s blog offers some other great tips for recycling e-waste.

No matter which recycling method you choose for your e-waste, keeping it out of the landfills helps you Greenify!


Earth Day Resolution #5 – Reducing Your Footprint

April 11, 2008

What size is your carbon footprint?  The national average is around 8 tons of Carbon Dioxide per year depending on which Carbon calculator you are using. Do you think your footprint is larger or smaller than the average? 

You can calculate your carbon footprint on one of the many web-based carbon calculators. The EPA has a more sophisticated calculator which asks questions pertaining to the type of dwelling you live in, the number of people in the household, transportation, waste and more. They also offer a calculator on the same page to reduce emissions. Yahoo’s Green site is the simplest calculator which only asks 7 general questions. MSN’s Green site has a carbon calculator which is somewhere between Yahoo’s and the EPA’s.

So gather recent natural gas, heating oil, propane, and electric bills, click on one of the calculator’s above and get ready to determine the size of your footprint. The good news is that no matter how big or small your carbon footprint is, there are many actions that one can take to reduce the size.

With Earth Day just around the corner make a promise to yourself and resolve to reduce your carbon footprint by at least one size. The earth will be a better place for it and you will be happier with your new footprint knowing that your smaller steps have helped our planet by leaps and bounds.


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