It’s hard to feel optimistic about the future of our planet when we seem to be locked in a constant news cycle reporting record-breaking heat, and there’s a gigantic pile of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean. But don’t give in to helplessness in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems – make sure that you’re following sustainable practices in your own life, and be a tiny part of the solution instead.
Keep your mobile phone for as long as you can
Yes, there’s a lot of hype around new smartphone releases and it’s probably easy to get sucked into the anticipation if you’re an enthusiast. But we know that rapid smartphone new release cycles are contributing to major environmental issues through mineral mining, factory manufacturing and accumulating waste after we’re done and onto the next model.
But how about companies that build their phones to only last a short time?
We’re entering an era where consumers are beginning to become more comfortable repairing than replacing. Apple now offers battery replacements, and there are options for other brands too.
Need a new laptop? Consider the manufacturer’s ethical rating
How ethically a manufacturer produced its products has an impact on its level of sustainability. This can include any number of things, from where a company sources its material to how the workers are treated, and whether or not they’re paid a living wage. Thinking about the complex ways in which sustainability plays a part in different aspects of our lives, and supporting a company that considers all of these things is a good way of supporting sustainable practices.
Electricity usage – save where you can
We hear a lot about keeping air conditioners off, which is a tough pill to swallow in the Australian summer. And not everyone has the cash to refit their house with a solar panel system. So it comes down to making small adjustments where you can. This might be as simple as making sure that the lights in your house are turned off in rooms that aren’t being used, or choosing household appliances like washing machines that have a more efficient energy rating. Take a look at this guide to minimising your electricity usage – not only will you save energy, but you’ll save money too.
Disposing your e-waste
The amount of electronics ending up in landfill is causing major problems for the environment. You can help to offset that by making sure that when your electronic devices reach the end of their capacity, take them to an e-waste recycling facility. There are plenty of these around – Microsoft allows you to recycle devices at any of their stores, as does Apple, and Officeworks accepts a number of different products, including phones, laptops and video game consoles. Even if your device is broken, it can still be used for parts.
We certainly don’t rely on printers as much as we used to, but occasionally it still can’t be avoided, so there are a few things that you can do to offset the impact. Firstly, make sure you’re refilling your ink cartridges rather than tossing them, if you use an inkjet printer – this will save you money too! Secondly, get yourself a sheaf of recycled printing paper. And if you’re someone who needs to print a lot – for example, if you work in design – take note of sustainability practices in the printing industry and support companies with sustainability initiatives. We’re still a partially paper-based society, but this needn’t come at the cost of sustainability.
Use your tech for the good of mankind
Your personal tech doesn’t need to be a beacon of doom – it can also be a friend that helps to point you in the right places. So if you’re interested in applying sustainable practices to your everyday life at home and at work, take a look at the apps available.
These are just a few small ways that we can make tech usage more sustainable – they might not seem like they’ll make much a difference, but if more people adopt sustainable practices like these, we can start to reduce the amount of waste we produce and the damage that tech manufacturing and usage causes to the environment.
Feature image by: Josh Riemer