What does it mean to be green? Everyone is always talking about being green without clearly defining what that means. It is even more frustrating when the doctrine of green is constantly preached at us without telling us exactly what it is we ought to be.
Taking an extreme view, being completely green is to be in a state of zero energy output. But modern life requires enormous amounts of energy output. In terms of computing, the only way to be absolutely green is to never use a computer.
That said, we can still be a lot greener. It is not about doing less. Rather, it is about the responsible use of resources. It is a reminder that we can accomplish everything we want to accomplish without being wasteful or harmful to the environment. Just as diets are not about eating less but eating better, greener computing is not about doing less, but utilizing resources in a more responsible way. Here are three ways you can put that idea into action:
Too Much Computer
Tech enthusiasts worldwide balk at the notion of too much computer. For much of this community, the more, the better. This crowd will never be satisfied with the rate of computing advances. They will always want more, and more again.
But take a step back, and you will find that we already have computers more powerful than we know how to use. iPhones have more power than Apollo 11, the first space shuttle, and the Mars rover Curiosity. Outside of console quality 3D gaming, we are not launching rockets with out pocket computers.
If the computer in our pocket is underworked, the one on our desk is hopelessly bored to digital tears. Computers worldwide, are patiently awaiting someone to give them a command worth carrying out. Updating your Facebook status will not cause them to break a sweat. Though running all those Flash ads in the background might gives your fans a workout.
Responsible computing requires that we stop yielding to marketing hype and buying more computer than we need. There are a number of computers that are both powerful and energy efficient. When practical, we should support companies that build and promote energy efficient computing.
While companies like Intel are known for making ever more powerful computers, they are also known for having difficulty scaling that power to smaller, more efficient processes. Conversely, some companies like Kontron.com specialize in embedded, low-power, industrial components designed with efficiency in mind. Even power-hungry businesses and consumers have no excuse to purchase more computer than they need. And that is good for the environment.
Screens Waste Power
Regardless of whether it is a desktop, laptop, or palmtop computer, one of the biggest energy expenditures is the screen. It is a very costly proposition to keep that screen brightly lit for an extended period of time. You will quickly burn through your battery charge by turning the brightness up even a stop or two. Turning it all the way up will have you seeking an outlet ever couple of hours.
Desktops are even bigger culprits. We just don’t consider them a problem because there is no battery to discharge. There are two things that will greatly improve your energy profile as it relates to monitors:
- Reduce the brightness to the lowest level you can can comfortably read the screen. Your eyes will quickly adjust.
- Set the energy saving preferences to turn off the display when dormant for the shortest possible time.
Do the same for your mobile devices as well. You might just find your battery life doubled.
It’s Useful to Somebody
‘Recycle’ is one of the greenest buzzwords of them all. But there is something even better than recycling. Chances are, your computer still has a lot of life left in it long after you are ready to move on to the next one. I get it. I also like new and shiny things. There is no reason to have your old computer disassembled and gutted for parts. Sell it, or give it away to someone who will treasure it. Rather than recycling it, try keeping it in service. That is the greenest option most of the time.
Being green is about being environmentally aware and responsible. It is past time we computer geeks join the movement.