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Can Your Computer and the Internet Help Save the Environment?

written by: Nicky LaMarco•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 10/6/2009

With today’s emphasis on the environment, we are all looking for ways to live a “greener" lifestyle. Using your computer can make help you make a lot of small contributions that add up to help save the environment.

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    Tip #1: Working Digitally Will Save Paper

    When you work digitally, there isn’t a constant need to work with paper hard copies. Here are some ways you can conserve paper and save trees, just by using your computer:

    1. Only print when necessary. Computers allow you to proofread and edit multiple drafts of a document, none of which need to be printed.
    2. Use e-mail instead of sending letters, cards and postcards. This saves paper as well as postage costs.
    3. Opt to go “paperless" with your bills. Plan to pay your bills online, but make sure to also select the “paperless" option if the merchant provides one, to avoid the need for paper bills.
    4. Use recycled paper in your printer, so that when you do print, you’re still saving resources. And, always print on both sides of the paper.
    5. Use Notepad on your computer instead of sticky notes and notebooks. Not only does this save paper, but it lets you easily take your notes with you, allows you to “copy and paste" from them, and keeps your work space neat.
    6. Read the news online, and stop buying newspapers. This saves paper as well as money.
    7. Download eBooks and audio books online, which saves paper and all the other chemicals involved in the printing of traditional books.

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    Tip #2: Do It Online and Save Fuel Resources and Reduce Air Pollution

    Paper isn’t the only thing you can help save using your computer. Next time you’re about to get in your car, think if there’s a way you can get the errand done online instead.

    1. Shopping online is not only convenient, but saves gasoline vehicle emissions.
    2. Telecommute to work whenever possible. More and more companies are providing this as an option, sometimes even on a full-time basis.
    3. Watch a DVD on your computer, instead of driving to the movie theater. This not only saves gas and vehicle emissions, but watching the DVD on your computer as opposed to your large screen TV also saves electricity. Listening to music on your computer and unplugging your stereo also saves electricity.
    4. When you do have to use your, use your computer to help you find the most efficient route before you leave, so that you are not wasting gas by driving further than necessary.

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    Tip #3: Use Your Computer in an Energy-Conscious Manner

    Even when you are already using your computer to help save paper and fuel, there is more you can do to help save electricity:

    1. Make sure your computer is set to go to sleep after a period of inactivity, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
    2. If you’re not planning to use your computer for an extended period of time, such as when you go to bed at night, shut it off.
    3. Unplug your power adaptors, or invest in an efficient power strip that stops unused electronic devices from continuing to draw electrical current even when they are turned off.
    4. Make sure the monitor you are using is energy efficient. Older monitors, especially large ones, use much more electricity than current models.

    If those aren't enough, find out more about using computers to save the environment and the meaning of green computing.

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    Tip #4: Getting Involved Online

    • Use your computer to stay up to speed on environmental news by frequenting environmental news sites, or subscribing to RSS feeds.
    • Participating in environmental blogs is a great way to interact with others who are concerned about the environment.
    • Donate to environmental causes online.
    • Ad clicking is sometimes used by charities to raise funds. By creating an account at an Internet charity site, your Internet browsing can actually help raise money for your favorite environmental cause.

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    These tips are just the beginning, and have probably gotten you thinking about other ways you can use your computer to help save the environment. They may seem like small things, but if everybody did them, it would make a big difference.