Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

meet the new macs

October 16, 2008

Apple makes some advancements in sustainability with their new MacBook and MacBook Pro. Both MacBooks achieve EPEAT Gold status, which means that they met all of the 23 required criteria and at least 75 percent of the optional criteria under their gold certification standards.

Below, some of the eco-friendly features of the new laptops.


MacBook and MacBook Pro 15″

  • Meet EPEAT Gold status
  • Arsenic free
  • Brominated fire retardant (BFR) free
  • Mercury free
  • PVC free
  • Recyclable
  • Energy efficient LED-backlit display
  • Meet Energy Star 4.0 requirements
  • Ship in a a 37% smaller packaging

Get all of the tech specs at Gizmodo.

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green screen

August 21, 2008

Here’s some more on the eco-electronics front — more specifically, computer components.

“The World’s Most Eco-friendly Monitor” [Product Reviews]
What: W2252TE LCD monitor by LG
Why: Reduced energy consumption (19.4 watts vs 44.6 with a Dell)

Zero Watt Sleep Mode Monitors [TechTree]
What: A line of monitors by Fujitsu
Why: In sleep mode, the monitor draws no electricity, unlike 1 to 6 watt use with standard monitors

Eco-friendly Storage Device [[re]Drive]
What: The [re]Drive external hard drive by SimpleTech (Fabrik)
Why: Energy efficient; eco-friendly components and packaging; powers on or off with your computer

Low Power Mini Computer
[CRN]
What: Eee box by ASUS
Why: Energy efficient; made with eco-friendly materials, conforming strictly to RoHS and WEEE standards

least toxic cellphones

August 21, 2008

[Image: Chris Jordan]

Ours is a gadget filled society. Cellphones, PDAs, MP3 players, portable video game consoles, book readers, GPS devices, portable satellite radios, blah blah blah.

And in all of those devices lie lots of little components, many of them hazardous, known to release persistent bioaccumulative toxins (PBTs). According to the EPA,

PBTs are chemicals and/or pollutants that:

  1. Remain in the environment for a long time (persist) without breaking down
  2. Accumulate in the environment and build up in the tissues of humans, fish, and animals (bioaccumulative)
  3. Are toxic (causing cancer and other health problems) to living organisms, including humans


Now, don’t panic. I’m not proposing you hand over all of your electronic possessions to the next guy you see in a hazmat suit. These toxins are not leaching out of your gadgets while you use them — that’s something that happens once they reach the landfill. And the way people burn through devices these days, it’s no wonder trash heaps everywhere are filled with toxic waste.

So what is one supposed to do?

Buy green
Thankfully, makers of electronics are starting to make less toxic products. Here’s a roundup of the greenest cellphones [thanks to MetaEfficient]:

Sony Ericsson T650i
Features: energy efficient charger (24% more efficient than Energy Star standards); PVC-, phthalate-, beryllium-, and brominated-flame-retardant-free

Nokia N95
Features: PVC-, phthalate-, and brominated-flame-retardant-free; battery price is low to encourage replacement of battery rather than entire phone

Nokia 3310 Evolve
Features: highly energy efficient charger (exceeds Energy Star standards by 94%); outer cover made from over 50% renewable materials (bio-sourced); currently available in Europe only

Sony Ericsson P1i
Features: PVC-, phthalate-, beryllium-, and brominated-flame-retardant-free
Read the whole green cell phone post at MetaEfficient.

Recycle, dammit!
Do you really need a new cellphone/iPod/PDA? If it’s time to trade in your old broken cellphone for a fancy new green phone, be sure to recycle. Here are just a few e-waste recycling and cellphone donation programs:

Find electronics recycling where you live:

warming up to the kindle

August 18, 2008

There’s nothing like losing yourself in a book. Not just the world within the book but the sensory experience — the smell of the pages, the sound they make when you turn them, the feel of the paper between your fingers. But when I start to think about all of the paper used, the trees exterminated, to print books, magazines, and newspapers, it seems ridiculously wasteful. Especially since there’s a paper-free alternative out there — The Kindle (and other e-book devices).

And this little write-up on the Kindle is making me want one. Sheryl Eisenberg, for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), details her experience with the reading machine and the sacrifice of the good ol’ fashioned printed word. In her words:

…I like the Kindle… a lot. What it lacks in the Proustian dimension, it makes up for in the practical. I would always want real physical books for the works I love best– fine hardcover books at that. But for most of the ephemera I read, electronic versions are fine.

Years ago, I came to the same conclusion with regard to the newspaper when I gave up the print version to read it exclusively online. What I lost was the familiar smell and feel of newsprint and the fun of perusing the page layouts. What I gained was the web’s look-up and cross-referencing capabilities and the knowledge that I was helping to preserve trees, whose dappled leaves, cooling shade and trilling birds exceed the delights of even the most beautifully printed page.

Read the whole story here.

While you’re saving trees, you can also benefit from the convenience factor. You can carry around that 900-page classic, your favorite newspaper, and magazines, all in one small device that weighs less than the average paperback. Currently there are more than 150,000 books available, with more being added all the time. You can also upload Word documents, saving yourself the time and paper of printing out things like directions or manuscripts. One Kindle fan on Amazon even had her wedding officiated from the device.

My one hesitation to getting one is that it’s another piece of electronics and it of course requires electricity. But it’s apparently really efficient. With the wireless capabilities off it can last for a week without charging, so people recommend keeping it off when you’re not actually downloading anything.

I’m probably not going to rush out and buy one, but maybe come holiday time I’ll be asking Santa to leave one under the tree.

the sound of sleep

July 6, 2008

For years, my boyfriend used an air conditioner to drown out the noises of the city, just to get (and stay) asleep. It wasn’t something I was accustomed to, but I learned to get used to it. But then I started thinking about how much energy sucking that air conditioner did, 365 days a year. We tried one of those noise machines with the varying sounds: rainforest, jungle, waterfall, plain old white noise. The problem with those things is that they’re a recorded loop of sound. Whoooosh Whoooosh (hic) Whooosh. You can hear the slight skip where the loop starts again. Focusing on that hiccup is not conducive to a sound night’s sleep.

Finally we found a sound machine that works. The Marpac SleepMate 980A Electro-Mechanical Sound Conditioner (quite a mouthful, but if you want to experience one, just click the link). It uses a small internal fan to make a whooshing sound. So now we’re using a lot less energy and sleeping like babies. Whoooosh Whoooosh zzzzzzZZZZZZZZ