Published on October 18th, 2022 | by Byliner

Eleven ways to reduce your laptop’s impact on the environment

The climate crisis impacts all of us, and we know that to hold a global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically. Addressing this climate crisis requires breaking it into smaller actions that add up to a big impact. There are many simple choices to shrink our carbon footprint, including that all-important laptop purchase.

Consider these eleven ways to choose the best laptop for you and reduce your carbon footprint.

  1. Know your numbers

Do you know your carbon footprint? It’s the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) – including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and others – that you produce as you live your life. There are several great calculators out there that can help you calculate your carbon footprint, like carbonpositiveaustralia.org.au/calculate/.

You may be surprised by your own footprint, so having an idea of your impact will be the first step to figuring out where you can make savings. Many brands will help you compare the carbon footprint of various laptop models to inform your sustainability-minded buying decisions.

  1. The great recycle

We usually think of recycling as a waste issue, but it’s also a climate issue. For example, the carbon footprint of a recycled aluminium can is 95 per cent smaller than that of one made from virgin aluminium.

So, before buying that new laptop, consider how you might responsibly return, refurbish, or recycle your old one. Depending on the brand, you may be able to send it back to have it recycled. Recycling policies vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and have improved significantly over the last few years. But today, some will even collect your old electronic goods, regardless of brand, in any condition and recycle them for free.

  1. Before you replace it, can you repair it?

Repair is essential to keep products in use longer and out of landfills, so it’s worth checking whether a laptop is designed with repair and recycling in mind. If a component is covered in adhesive and takes hours to disassemble, it isn’t as easy to repair and may not be able to be recycled at all.

Some brands provide customers with easy access to the resources, spare parts and support they need should they wish to repair their products themselves. Publishing a parts list online means customers can order parts to conduct their own repairs; check which brands offer a parts list before purchasing your laptop.

  1. Level up

Many people think about changing their laptops to support the latest applications or games. Before buying new, check whether you can level up with upgrade components like memory, storage, graphics cards, or the CPU to instantly extend your device’s usual lifespan.

  1. Old is the new, new

If you have decided on a new laptop, why not consider refurbished? Going through an official refurb program removes the uncertainty of buying through peer-to-peer websites. You can have peace of mind with a warranty that protects your device.

  1. Lean, mean (sustainably built) machine

If buying new, what is it made of? Numerous materials can be recycled to create a new laptop. Recyclable and renewable materials, including tree-based bioplastic upcycled from the papermaking industry, reclaimed carbon fibre, post-consumer recycled plastic, and new bio-based rubber feet made from castor bean oil, can all be used to create sustainable laptops in 2022.

  1. Energise your energy efficiency

You’ve got energy-efficient LED light bulbs in your house – but how energy efficient is your laptop? Energy-efficient devices help cut your electricity bills and reduce the amount needed.

Thankfully, some helpful standards tell you how efficient any device is, like the EPEAT rating (the Green Electronics Council’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool). It’s the most comprehensive tool for evaluating overall environmental criteria and makes it easy to assess the life cycle implications of a product.

  1. Switch off the energy zappers

Reducing energy use is a simple solution with environmental and economic benefits. Energy consumed by common household devices in standby mode can add up and contribute substantially to the power bill. PCs are some of Australia’s top energy zappers, so switch off your laptop completely when you’re not using it – even the standby light uses energy.

Try not to over-charge your laptop unnecessarily, either. Unplugging it as soon as it’s charged will save energy and help your battery last longer. You can also adjust your PC’s power settings to reduce the energy impact and save battery life by optimising things like the backlit keyboard and screen brightness and changing your settings to “Best Battery Life.”

  1. What’s on the outside counts too

What about packaging? On average, Australians use 130kg of plastic per person each year. Less than 12 per cent of that’s recycled. So, it’s essential to check whether a company uses polystyrene or other packaging materials that are difficult or impossible to recycle. Many companies now use reclaimed plastics and natural products like bamboo to make more sustainable packaging; you can go ahead and responsibly recycle or compost the packaging – or use it to send your old tech for recycling.

  1. Future-proof

If you want to play your part in preserving the environment, one of the easiest things you can do to help is preserve your laptop – that means protecting it and extending its lifespan. So, update your software regularly to optimise your PC’s efficiency and avoid viruses, treat the battery well, and keep your laptop clean!

While software can’t help get rid of fingerprints on a screen, it can help you keep your energy-efficient laptop running like new. Intelligent technology can remove viruses, detect issues, optimise settings and tell you when to make updates to keep your laptop healthy, reducing the need to replace or refurbish/recycle.

Consider purchasing a laptop case to protect your choice of a laptop when on the move. For a double-whammy sustainability choice, there are cases on the market that are eco-conscious in their own right, with some made out of recycled ocean-bound plastics.

  1. Variety is the spice of your device

Consumer power

As a consumer, you have the power to influence how seriously companies take the issue of our collective carbon footprint. You can choose to reward companies with strong sustainability programs by selecting their products when you make purchasing decisions. You can also let them know you appreciate their work through social media or other outlets.

While buying a laptop may not seem like an environmental game-changer at first glance, your everyday choices can signal that you want to decarbonise the economy and push for climate change solutions.

By Adam Lee, Director and General Manager of Consumer and Small Business, Dell Technologies, ANZ

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