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Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a system that will help you find and compare the environmental aspects of your next laptop. The EPEAT registry includes desktops and monitors, as well. They have straightforward set of criteria and are a trustworthy resource. EPEAT rates items with bronze, silver, or gold stamps. For more information about EPEAT’s criteria, go here. Individual consumers should also go here.
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There is a lot of disagreement about the overall greenness of certain manufacturers. Your decision to buy a particular laptop computer may be satisfied by a good EPEAT rating or you may want to dig deeper. Some things that you may want to consider are the battery type and manufacturer, whether or not the laptop manufacturer has a recycling program, and what types of materials the laptop is composed of. There’s been discussion about PCBs and heavy metals used in certain types of laptops. Apple’s new MacBook Air and Dell’s Latitude laptops are great ones to look at. The MacBook, Latitude, and Sony Vaio are all Energy Star qualified laptop computers.
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A great place to start your search is at I Buy It Green. The site is full of informative articles about all things green. You can look for EPEAT certified laptops from a few manufacturers here. The link will take you to eBay auctions for those laptops. Consider getting a little greener by buying used, too. Be sure to protect yourself when buying used electronics by looking into return policies and warranties or guarantees, as well as whether the product has been tested. Only buy from trusted sellers.
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The future of green laptops is growing quickly. The XO, the centerpiece of the One Laptop Per Child program, is a great example of an energy efficient, inexpensive laptop that is helping the environment and many children in developing nations. That's a purchase you will feel good about on multiple levels. In 2007, Lauren Aaronson at PopSci.com wrote the Blueprint for a Green Laptop and it seems that many manufacturers are listening. In fact, the announced XO-2 has taken some of Aaronson's advice.