Why are Electronics Toxic to the Environment?

How many chemicals does your cell phone expose you to on a daily basis? A study by healthystuff.org found toxic chemicals in 36 of the most popular phones on the market, including all versions of Apple’s iPhone. Among the 12 different chemicals tested for, the cell phones tested positive for lead, cadmium, and mercury –some of the most harmful and carcinogenic to humans.

The problems begin when products are manufactured with combinations of many heavy metals and continue to inflict severe environmental damage long after they are discarded. According to Greenpeace International, these chemicals also pose risk to the workers who dismantle and dispose of these products.

Greenpeace has outlined some of the most harmful chemicals found in electronics and their effects all of which can and do bio-accumulate in the environment. These are not limited to, but include:

  • Lead- particularly harmful to e wastepregnant women and children, causing birth and developmental defects.
  • Cadmium- causes damage to the lungs and kidneys.
  • Mercury- Also specifically harmful to pregnant women and children, impairing neurological development and birth defects.
  • Polyvinyl Carbonate (PVC)- releases harmful and toxic chemicals especially when burned, as it would be in a disposal plant.
  • Bromated Flame Retardants- Disruptive to hormone systems and causes learning and memory impairment.

How can you protect your personal health along with the well-being of the planet? Proper disposal of electronic devices is essential. Even when electronics leave our homes and go into the garbage, they can get back into our bodies through water, food, and exposure to outdoor elements.

Learn more how to safely dispose of toxic electronics and keep chemicals out of the environment through our extensive recycling resources on our website.

Green Tech Companies in Boulder Area

Boulder, Colorado leads the way in high tech startup companies according to a recently released study from the New Engine/Kaufmann Foundation. Three of these tech companies based in the Boulder area provide energy saving services that most organizations could benefit from immediately.

tendril  Tendril offers smart energy technologies for both energy providers and consumers. Businesses may monitor and control energy usage in a variety of ways using Tendril’s efficient Cloud based technology. It is much easier to conserve and reduce energy when a company has more control and knowledge.

green garageGreen Garage services vehicles so that businesses and consumers save money and decrease their environmental impact. They go beyond traditional auto maintenance by offering technologies including nitrogen tire fills and silicon based windshield wipers. With a fleet maintenance program and employee discount offers, Green Garage offers businesses with vehicle fleets a real eco-friendly and money saving alternative.

Boulder Hybrid Conversions  converts Prius automobiles into plug-in electric hybrids, boulder hybrid conversionswhich curtails gas consumption. Colorado taxpayers get a generous tax rebate that increases the financial attractiveness of this innovative conservation technique. Eco-officiency converted their Prius hybrid to add a 10kw battery pack and was thrilled with the service of Boulder Hybrid as well as the reduced visits to the gas station.

For more information on how we help you navigate and implement energy conservation options contact us.

Green IT: What Does it Mean?

green itGreen IT is defined to create more environmentally friendly ways to manufacture, use and dispose of computer equipment in our homes and offices around the world. The steps toward minimizing the environmental impact from our digital world is one that’s not as easy as it appears. When you realize how much computers are relied upon today and made in specific ways, it becomes complicated in changing their environmental footprint.

While the manufacturing materials of our computers probably won’t change in the immediate term, computers can still be recycled so the materials used in them can be used in new products. Unfortunately, the metals of gold and copper used in computers aren’t recovered as much as they should be. On Greenitweek.org, it’s noted that computers contain more chemicals than you likely ever knew, and those can end up in the environment when a computer isn’t recycled responsibly.

Here are some simple and easy steps businesses can do to support the Green IT movement:

  • Purchase electronic equipment that is energy star compliant.
  • Support electronics vendors who have a sustainability focus and program.
  • Turn off all computers and electronic equipment at night. This can save over $100 per piece of equipment per year.
  • Support electronics vendors who take back their equipment and recycle responsibly.
  • Use an e-waste vendor to recycle electronics responsibly. You can find a national database of proper recycling centers for computers through the General Services Administration.

Energy Management Software Options and Recommendations

Energy management software is a way for companies to track energy usage and waste. This is a growing and changing market and industry with a large part of company’s sustainability strategies focusing on energy conservation.

Here are some resources and articles to learn more about energy management software:

GreenBiz, 6 Rules to Follow When Shopping for Energy Management Software

CA Emerging Technologies, Operations Energy Management: From Data Center Through Facilities

Environmental Leader, Market for Carbon and Energy Management Software

ZD Net, 10 Best Carbon and Energy Management Software Tools

Cloud Computer = Green Business Solution

There has been a lot of press lately on cloud computing that is not only good for data management but also a great green solution for businesses. It offers tremendous energy savings and IT efficiencies. Here are some of the recent reports and articles available on cloud computing;

Green Biz recent article, 4 Reasons Why Cloud Computing is a Green Solution, cites that cloud computing services are expected to grow by 22% annually to 2020. It also discusses the four top reasons cloud computing is a green solution including energy efficiency, utilization and consolidation efficiencies, pay per use and multitenancy.

Accenture put out a great whitepaper called, Cloud Computing and Sustainability, in November 2010 that discusses in more depth how cloud computing reduces the environmental impacts of IT and also provides case study examples.

The Carbon Disclosure Project in collaboration with Verdantix also did a report called, Cloud Computing: The IT Solution for the 21st Century. It cites that businesses with more than $1 billion in annual revenue can achieve in energy savings of $12.3 billion a year by 2020 through cloud computing services. In addition it projects an overall 30,000 metric tons savings in CO2 reduction.

Then Greenpeace report entitled How Dirty is Your Data, discusses the cloud’s energy footprint on these large cloud based service providers. It provides a table and report card on the primary cloud service providers and their use of clean energy vs. coal.

One of the primary hesitations of moving to the cloud is the security and privacy issue. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a publication on the Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing. The U.S. General Services Administration is moving all their data to a cloud based provider and now offering these services to government agencies. Learn more from Information Week Government article, Cloud Computer is Safer Than You Think, on how they overcame these challenges.

Can Cloud Computing Help Global Warming?

That is what Rob Bernard, the chief environmental strategist for Microsoft, is projecting in his latest article in Sustainable Industries. Microsoft recently commissioned a study with Accenture to analyze the energy and greenhouse gas use for cloud-hosted systems such as Microsoft versus on their own hosted systems.

The study found that organizations could save energy and carbon by switching to the cloud. It found the smaller the organization, the larger the benefit.  The study predicted an effective carbon footprint reduction of up to 90 percent over using local servers for smaller organizations (less than 100 people). For large corporations, the predicted savings were typically 30 percent or more. This is a pretty remarkable carbon and energy savings for smaller businesses.

In addition, cloud computing services can generally save companies money. It ranges from 25-50% savings in your IT costs. PC Computing has a nice article, 13 Terrific Cloud Services for Small Businesses, which provides an overview of companies that offer cloud based computing for small companies.