We in the tech community mustn’t forget about Earth Day

by Jeremy

Now that we’re firmly into year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to forget that another Earth Day is almost upon us; sure enough, it’ll be here in just a few days. Many traditional environmental pressures and stressors have eased a bit over the past year due to fewer people driving, flying, and moving about. More and more companies have also started to make sustainability a more critical, and even a core, principle in their missions and business activities. Still, those improvements are insufficient to address the constant and growing threat of environmental pollution, economic disparity, and climate change.

We all have a role in making this world a better place for ourselves and future generations — not just this Earth Day 2021, but for all days moving forward. With that in mind, here are some ways we, as enthusiasts, can do our part to practice more mindful and sustainable technology consumption, usage, and disposal. I’m sure much of this is familiar to you, but I think it’s all-important and bears repeating — this week.

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What is Earth Day?

Earth Day Hero Graphic

As a quick refresher for those who may have forgotten, the first Earth Day was celebrated over 50 years ago. In 1970, environmentalists in the U.S. rallied to get governments, corporations, and the public to pay attention to the severe problems plaguing the planet due to lax regulation and a general lack of foresight. By 1990, the campaign had gone global. The EarthDay.org website says the event is the “largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people yearly as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national, and local policy changes.”

Earth Day 2021 is on Thursday, April 22.

How you can help

As I mentioned above, there are many ways that you, as a tech enthusiast and consumer, can celebrate the spirit of Earth Day by being more mindful of your usage and consumption of technology.

Look for more sustainable companies and devices the next time you buy

Fairphone Teardown

Large and small companies have been making significant sustainability commitments over the past few years in design, production, packaging, distribution, and even energy management. Please look into what some of them are doing, and consider supporting them the next time you need to purchase technology. Vote for the planet with your actions and your wallet!

  • Depending on which are available where you live, both Fairphone and Teracube make some excellent sustainable and repairable phones. The end goal is that you use your devices for longer to keep them out of landfills. Teracube uses recycled materials to construct its phones and provides four years of service and protection. Fairphone works to make the entire lifecycle of its devices more sustainable, including materials, mining, labor, and shipping. Its machines are also the most repairable; you can replace parts for years. The company recently ported Android 9 to its five-year-old Fairphone 2 devices, and it also gives users the option to buy devices with /e/OS pre-installed.
  • Lenovo has committed to hitting dramatically reduced emission goals and using more sustainable materials in its products, from the most advanced laptops to everyday carry backpacks.
  • Google and Amazon have been introducing more recycled materials, including the mesh speaker coverings on Nest and Echo speakers and the metal and materials inside the devices like the Echo (4th Gen). Additionally, Google has pledged to make all its product packaging plastic-free by 2025, and Amazon is selling to offset Echo device energy usage.
  • I jumped a bit in my 2020 year-end editorial when I called for Samsung to be a better leader in the sustainability space because it has made some pretty impressive commitments in this area. In addition to being recognized for its sustainability efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the company has recently launched a partnership with uBreakiFix. The Erase E-Waste challenge is a six-week initiative “encouraging consumers to sort through their unused electronics and recycle unwanted devices for free at uBreakiFix locations through Earth Day.”
  • And let’s not forget about all the accessories like phone cases, chargers, and other devices that we’ve regarded as essentially disposable for years. There are many environmentally-friendly phone accessories and tech products for your consideration, so maybe look first when you need something new.

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