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The Web and the Environment – Keeping it Green

When it comes to being green, what role does our increasing dependence on computers and the internet play? The majority of us use a computer on a daily basis – how can we implement changes in our use of technologies that will benefit the environment?

Estimates show that a 10-30% reduction in paper usage is possible with appropriate use of available technology. By using email, instant messenger, a webcam, or other forms of internet based communication, we can help save the 4 billion trees that are cut down each year in North America alone. In addition, sending mail electronically keeps cars and postal service vehicles off the road, subsequently reducing fuel consumption and car engine emissions significantly. The same can be said regarding our use of the internet for our shopping needs, which allows consumers to conveniently shop “at the click of a mouse.”

As new technologies enter the market approximately every two years, e-waste is a mounting concern. There are many options available for computers besides just throwing them away. Many computers can actually be reused and refurbished – consider donating your old computer to someone in need – the elderly, your local Goodwill, a favorite charity, or a local school. The other viable option is recycling. If thrown away or taken to the nearest landfill, computers can release toxins to the environment, potentially polluting the water we drink and the air that we breathe. By eliminating e-waste, the environment is protected, resources are saved, and organizations in need will benefit.

Beyond the actual equipment, being an internet user has many advantages. We can access information about everything green – from recycling and hybrid cars to the hole in the ozone layer. Learning what you can do, sharing that information with others and putting ideas into action are the very essence of “being green”.

by Ellie Cominos and David Goldflies

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