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Figure 7-3: The iameco product line includes eco-friendly keyboards and mice.
Just say no to canned air
Okay, eat a couple of Oreos at your keyboard, and what do you have? Crumby QWERTY keys. You can clean the crumbs (as well as the other grime and gook that accumulates over time), but there’s a green way to do it. First, stay away from the canned air. It’s packed into the can with stuff you don’t want to breathe (includ-ing tetrafluoroethane), and it’s not good for the environment, either. So clean your keyboard the healthy way by following these steps:
1. Unplug the keyboard from the system unit or, if you’re using a laptop, power down.
2. Turn the thing over and shake it (gently).
3. Using a dry cotton swab, clean out any other loose debris between the keys.
4. To remove sticky spots, use a damp cotton rag with a tiny dot of earth-friendly dish soap.
There. That wasn’t so hard. No forced air required.
Chapter 7: Choosing Earth-Friendly Peripherals 137
Calling Router Rooter
Even though routers aren’t actually peripherals, they do exist on your net-work and you have to consider them as part of your green computing plan. Routers aren’t notorious energy hogs, but every little bit of energy savings helps. If you’re thinking about consolidating peripherals and sharing what you have, your router is about to become a more important peripheral in your home. First, here are a couple of green computing facts:
✓ Your router sips power all the time. It’s okay to turn it off if no one is home and your ghosts — er, guests — aren’t using it.
✓ Consider what your router is made of. Some router manufacturers are looking into earth-friendly materials. (Read on.)
D-Link is d-place to be
A new player in the happy green Wi-Fi world is D-Link, which offers a new series of wireless routers: Xtreme N, which targets big-time online gamers. These routers rely on Green Ethernet, a technology that adjusts power con-sumption based on use.
The routers include a scheduling feature that lets you specify active and sleep times of the day. (Think of the programmable thermostat in your home. The same energy-saving technique can apply to your router.) Also, the com-pany uses only Energy Star power supplies, so the whole ballgame begins with efficiency.
You can find out more about D-Link’s green philosophy and the technology behind the products by going to www.dlinkgreen.com.
Another popular router manufacturer, Netgear (see Figure 7-4), recently turned over a green leaf of its own. The new Netgear Green features of the company’s latest routers comply with the 802.11n standard (which is
wireless-speak) and are shipped in packaging made of 80 percent recycled materials. In addition to the earth-friendly packaging, Netgear uses Energy Star power supplies and has a simple but elegant feature that many routers don’t offer: an On/Off switch so that you can simply turn the thing off when you don’t need it. That feature represents simplicity and energy conservation at their finest.
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Figure 7-4: Netgear went green with
Wireless-N, even including recycled materials
in the packaging.
Making the Purchase — and What to Do Afterward
After you get the peripheral home (or it arrives on your doorstep), and you unbox it and plug it in, here are a few things to keep in mind:
✓ Enable the power-saving features. Some manufacturers (including HP) ship their equipment with energy-saving features already turned on; others leave that for you to do. Printers and battery-powered devices generally come with power saving features enabled, other devices prob-ably won’t. Take a minute to read the manual or open the information file on the driver disc. Look specifically at the energy-savings section to see whether you need to do anything in particular to take best advan-tage of energy-efficiency settings.
✓ Measure the device’s energy consumption. Pay attention to your energy use. If you invested in a power meter like the Kill A Watt, great! Plug in your new peripheral, and see what kind of energy it’s really drawing. Peripheral devices, such as printers, have several different power modes. Make sure you measure each mode, such as standby and actively printing, separately. If you don’t have a fancy-schmancy device, keep an eye on your electric bill. Is it going down? Do you see any change? Your green education doesn’t end with the purchase; the purchase is just part of the path.
Chapter 8 Recycling Your Computer
In This Chapter
▶ Seeing the mess we’ve made with e-waste ▶ Knowing the reasons to recycle computers ▶ Disposing of your computer responsibly
▶ Cleaning off your system ▶ Finding a good recycler
▶ Using manufacturers’ programs
▶ Recycling your computer supplies ▶ Striving to make a global impact
ou’ve probably noticed that nothing exists in a vacuum. Each being, each circumstance, each problem, each opportunity is connected to
everything else. You see this fact in the food chain and the economy. (Oh, boy, do you see it in the economy!) You see it in your home, your work, your health, your pets, and your plans.
This sense of oneness may show up in earth care perhaps more dramati-cally — and with a potentially longer-term impact — than in any other single area of life. Why? Without too much stretching of the imagination, you can see that we’re all in this together. The air in China eventually gets to you, wherever you live in the United States. The water you drink today is part
of a shared global water resource (one that scientists are concerned about because it’s diminishing, by the way). Without a big effort, you can plainly see that your choices are connected in a very real way to effects in your immediate environment and around the world.
Facing the e-Waste Facts
At first blush, the question of recycling computers may not seem that big a deal to you. If you’re just purchasing a new green system, you may have it for . . . what . . . five years or so? Then you’ll give it to someone else, take it to a responsible recycler, or maybe just put it out with the trash one day.
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Some U.S. states, however, have laws against discarding computers by toss-ing them out the window with the bathwater. (We hope that you’re not tossing your bathwater out the window either, come to think of it.) Illegally discarded computers, known as e-waste, represent one of the fastest-growing problems facing the environment today. Recent statistics show that the aver-age home life of a computer is only three years.
Following the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra, it’s a good green practice to plan to hold on to the computer you’ve got for as long as you can. Make it work; use it well; and when the time comes to retire it, do so responsibly by using a bona fide recycling program that really does what it says it’s going to do. Each choice you make about how you dispose of systems, monitors, and peripherals — not to mention batteries and other power sources — either adds to the problem or helps with the cleanup.
What e-waste are we throwing away?
Anything that you’d call “computer equipment” can be recycled somewhere. In addition, you can recycle MP3 players, cellphones, digital cameras, game systems, and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Right now, however, the majority of electronic equipment goes directly to landfills. It does not pass Go; it does not collect $200.
Here are the statistics, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Be forewarned that they’re not pretty.
✓ Americans own nearly 3 million electronic products.
✓ In 1998, an estimated 20 million computers became obsolete.
✓ In 2007, an estimated 37 million computers — almost double the 1998 estimate — became obsolete.
✓ In addition to computers, 304 million electronic devices — monitors, cellphones, and other gadgets — were thrown away in 2005.
✓ Discarded electronics constitute 70 percent of metals and 40 percent of the lead in U.S. landfills.
✓ As of 2007, of the 2.25 million tons of electronic equipment ready to be disposed of, 414,000 tons (or 18 percent) were recycled, and 1.84 million tons (82 percent) were dumped into landfills all across the country.
✓ Only 15 percent of computer equipment was recycled until 2006–2007, when several states started mandatory recycling for electronic equipment.
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