THE POWER OF GREENER ELECTRONICS

Recycle Keyboard

How many times do you use electronic devices on an average day? Nielsen Surveys estimates that the average American adult spends 11 hours each day with some sort of digital media. Worldwide, there are over five billion cellular phone subscriptions, 1.4 billion television sets and 1 billion computers. These statistics prove that people across the globe have not only embraced electronics but are dependent on them.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the processes used to manufacture electronic devices are energy intensive, water intensive and chemical intensive. The creation of a 0.07 ounce microchip uses 66 pounds of raw materials including water and substances such as flame retardants and chlorinated solvents. Nearly 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals and 1.5 tons of water are used in the production of one computer monitor. And, electronic equipment is part of an increasing and complicated waste stream that poses challenging environmental management problems.

The electronics industry has made some strides toward the creation of more sustainable devices. The amount of power required for high-definition gaming devices, for instance, has decreased by 50 percent since 2006. Computer energy efficiency has doubled every 1.57 years and is expected to continue at that pace for the foreseeable future. Some companies have phased out environmental contaminants such as PVC, phthalates, lead, mercury and arsenic in their products, and they have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and are using renewable energy sources in their production processes.

There are still barriers in the sustainable electronics market, though. Certain manufacturers have abandoned the green features of their products in favor of design and cost considerations. Although it has been enacted in the European Union with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, government legislation on the use of harmful materials in the manufacture of electronic equipment has yet to gain momentum in the United States. The Environmental Design of Electrical Equipment Act was introduced into Congress in 2009 and was intended to regulate the use of certain substances in electrical products. However, the resolution never passed.

What can you do as a consumer to green your electronics?

The most sustainable electronic device is the one that you do not purchase. Electronics retailers are consistently developing and marketing the latest and greatest models of popular devices, so consumers are constantly seduced by upgrades that render products fashionably obsolete before they are practicably obsolete. In fact, the 140 million cellular phone users in the United States own at least two devices and discard their phones for a new model every 14 to 18 months. However, a cellular phone can last for an average of four years with proper care and maintenance. Additionally, there are many versions of similar products on the market. Reduce the costs and wastes associated with electronics by employing all of a single device’s features such as its camera, alarm clock and music player and by refraining from the purchase of multiple products that complete that same tasks. And, use a single device as long as possible.

When you purchase an electronic product, consider a used or refurbished item to extend the life of the device and save money. If you must purchase a new electronic item, consider a greener device. Greener electronics are more energy efficient, can run on renewable energy, are designed to be durable and reliable, and are manufactured with more sustainable, safer materials. Avoid the purchase of electronics that contain harmful substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ether. These chemicals, often used as solders and flame retardants, present numerous health concerns. Purchase electronics with the Energy Star or EPEAT certification to save energy.

In devices that require batteries, trade disposable alkaline batteries for rechargeable batteries, and learn to charge your batteries properly. Lithium ion batteries should be stored with full or partial charges, and the batteries should be used periodically. Nickel metal hydride batteries perform best when they are used on a full drain-full recharge cycle. For more information on proper battery care, visit Green Batteries.

Choose renewable energy chargers that use solar, wind and even kinetic energy to power your electronics.

Save energy by powering down and unplugging electronic devices when they are not in use. Forty percent of the energy used to power electronics in your home and office is consumed when your devices are turned off.

When an electronic device is obsolete, consider a buy-back or trade-in program. Major retailers such as Best Buy and Target as well as Internet sources such as Gazelle, Amazon and NextWorth offer buy-back and trade-in programs. Or, sell your device yourself or donate it to a charity.

When an electronic device has truly reached the end of its useful life, recycle it. According to Nokia, only three percent of cellular phone users recycle their obsolete phones. Electronic waste recycling is important, though, because electronics contain valuable recyclable materials such as plastic, glass and metal. Electronics also contain chemicals that can leach into the environment if they are not discarded properly. Furthermore, computers and televisions are banned from landfills in North Carolina. The Fort Bragg Recycling Center accepts personal electronics at the facility in Building 3-1240 on the corner of Butner Road and Reilly Road. For other electronics recycling facilities in North Carolina, visit ECycling Central.

SELECT THE IMAGES FOR PRINTABLE POSTERS!

Greener Electronics

E-Waste

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Greenpeace International Guide to Greener Electronics

Green Electronics Council

EPEAT

Greener Gadgets

Energy Star

10 Ways to Trade Your Electronics for Cash : Buy-Back Programs

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FASHIONABLE TRASH

Textile Waste

Even when Mother Nature still calls for swim suits and shorts, advertisements for Back to School sales have already inundated consumers, and the first fashions of fall have already appeared on store shelves. And, even in the dead of winter, florals and cheerful colors bloom from fabrics long before they bloom from the soil. Retailers are swift to unveil their latest offerings well in advance of impending shopping seasons, and while the anticipation of new clothes can be exciting, the environmental impacts of the apparel industry can be concerning.

The worldwide demand for mass-produced clothing, especially trendy and affordable fast fashion, has increased exponentially in recent years. This demand, though, has also generated tons of waste. Annually, less than 20 percent of clothing is recycled, and almost four billion pounds of textile wastes are discarded to account for nearly six percent of the entire municipal solid wastes stream. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste, every American disposes of 68 pounds of clothing and textiles each year.

Demands for clothing have caused increases in production and have thus raised the needs for cheaper, synthetic fibers such as polyester, vinyl and nylon. These fabrics, however, are hardly environmentally sound. Many synthetic fibers are manufactured from petroleum. Furthermore, the production of synthetic fibers is an energy intensive process that releases emissions containing volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, acidic gases and chemicals into the air, land and water. Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the EPA considers synthetic textile manufacturing facilities to be hazardous waste generators. Many man-made textiles are not biodegradable and thus contribute significantly to the waste stream.

Natural fibers, though, also have their share of environmental issues. Cotton is one of the most pesticide laden and water intensive crops. Farmers in the United States spend over $4 billion on pesticides every year, and 25 percent of those pesticides are used on cottom. The cotton required to produce one shirt requires 257 gallons of water during the growing process. Rayon, a fiber made from wood pulp, is manufactured with chemicals such as sulfuric acid. If the pulp is not sustainably harvested, rayon production can also contribute to the depletion of forests. Insecticides are commonly used on sheep that are raised for wool. And, materials such as leather, wool, fur and silk have raised animal rights issues.

Both synthetic and natural fibers are often treated with chemicals once they are turned into garments. Polyvinyl chloride and harsh solvents are used to render garments waterproof or water resistant, and crease resistant and flame retardant cottons can contain formaldehyde, a proven human carcinogen.

In addition, the rising costs of labor in the United States have prompted many apparel brands to locate production operations in developing countries. Long hours and low wages create dismal working conditions for laborers, and the transportation costs required to import clothing from foreign markets are enormous.

Furthermore, the care of clothing can cause a strain on resources. An estimated 60 percent of the energy used in the life cycle of a cotton shirt is related to post-purchase washing and drying.

How can you ensure that GREEN is not merely a color in your wardrobe?

Purchase clothing from environmentally and socially conscious companies. Research the environmental policies and production methods of your favorite apparel brands or visit Green America. The Responsible Shopper program provides company environmental profiles and compares the environmental impacts of clothing retailers. National Green Pages has a directory of sustainable products and services.

Consider the ecological impacts of your clothing. Ecologically conscious fashion is often produced from organic, sustainably harvested and minimally processed virgin materials or from textiles made from recycled materials. For instance, active apparel retailer Patagonia sells fleece clothing created with post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The company estimates that the process has saved over 86 million bottles from the waste stream. The production of sustainable fashion is also less energy intensive, water intensive and chemical intensive. Levi Strauss and Company recently introduced the Water<Less production process for denim, which reduces the amount of water used in garment finishing by up to 96 percent for certain goods. The clothier has saved an estimated 770 million liters of water since the process’s launch.

Be wary of greenwashing. Bamboo, for example, is commonly touted as a sustainable fabric, but some manufacturers use harsh chemicals to turn the raw material into a usable fiber. Research green claims thoroughly prior to purchase.

Shop for locally-produced clothing, and shop from locally-owned stores to support the economy and reduce transport costs.

Create your own clothing.

Buy less, and buy high-quality garments that are designed to last. Avoid fast fashion.

Gently care for your clothing. Wash clothing in cool water, when possible. Allow clothing to air dry to save energy. Also, avoid dry cleaning chemicals such as perchloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene.

Wear clothing as long as possible. Mend or repair damaged clothing, if possible.

Sell gently used items to a consignment shop or donate them to a charity. Or, organize a clothing swap with friends and family.

When clothing has reached the end of its useful life, repurpose worn clothing or try “upcycling” the fabric.

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Fashionable Trash flier

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Sustainable Fashion News from Tree Hugger

Ecouterre

Fibre 2 Fashion

Green Choices

National Institutes of Health: Waste Couture

Natural Resources Defense Council: Clean by Design

Make Do and Mend

Upcycle That! Fabric

Upcycled Fabric Projects on Pinterest

More Upcycled Fabric Projects on Pinterest

TRAVELING GREEN

Backpackers couple walking hand in hand

Summer is approaching, and the beginning of summer usually heralds a season for traveling. The travel and tourism industry can have a major impact on the environment, though. According to the United Nations, for instance, carbon dioxide emissions generated directly from the tourism sector of the global economy account for five percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions throughout the world. A study conducted by independent research firm STUDYLOGIC found that only 40 percent of travelers practice energy conservation and only 20 percent of travelers practice water conservation.

Do you need to travel to remote, exotic or extreme locales to travel sustainably? No! Essentially, you can travel green anywhere you go by remaining mindful of resource stewardship and by choosing businesses, goods, services and transportation methods that maintain and preserve the ecological integrity of the environment and contribute to local community development.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL …

  • Plan travel more efficiently. Travel less often, and travel for longer periods at a time.
  • Research the environmental policies and practices of airlines and hotels prior to your trip. Choose airlines and hotels that operate sustainably, if possible. Also, consider a privately-owned hotel to support the local economy of your destination. Learn more at Trip Advisor.
  • Research the language and customs of the region to which you will be traveling so that you can communicate with and be respectful of the locals.
  • Request electronic versions of tickets, confirmations, receipts and boarding passes to reduce paper waste.
  • Pack lightly. Decreasing your load increases your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and, if you will be traveling by air, your baggage fees.
  • Choose reusable containers that can be refilled each time you travel for toiletries such as shampoo and soap. Avoid expensive, disposable toiletries that are discarded after one use to reduce waste.
  • Conserve energy in your home before you embark on your journey. Unplug appliances and electronics, and set your thermostat at a higher temperature in the summer and a lower temperature in the winter. Do not leave lights on. Instead, use lights with a timer for security purposes.
  • If you will be enjoying a road trip, ensure that your vehicle is in top form before your trip. Inflate your tires properly and perform any necessary maintenance to maximize fuel efficiency. Also, pack only what you need and remove any extraneous items from your vehicle. Unnecessary weight diminishes gas mileage.
  • Use refillable water bottles instead of disposable plastic water bottles. If you will be flying, though, ensure that your bottles are completely empty before you reach airport security.
  • Pack a supply of healthy foods to avoid the often unhealthy options along the way.

WHEN YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR DESTINATION …

  • If you will be staying at your destination for several nights, use the same towels and bedding throughout your stay to conserve water and energy.
  • Save water at your lodging facilities by shortening your shower and by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth and shave. Save energy by turning off the lights, air conditioner, television and other electronics when you leave the room.
  • Reduce waste by recycling as much as possible and by returning brochures, maps and other printed publications after you use them.
  • Limit the use of rental cars. Travel the local region by mass transit. Or, walk or cycle around the area to reduce vehicle emissions and stay fit.
  • Travel like a native, not a tourist. Embrace and honor indigenous traditions, and spend some time with the residents to learn about and indulge in the culture and cuisine that are unique to the area. Avoid tourist traps, and explore the best-kept secrets and the roads less traveled. Instead of purchasing cheap souvenirs, visit locally-owned shops and choose goods that are crafted by local artisans. However, be vigilant to avoid the purchase of endangered plant or animal products.
  • If you will be visiting a natural area, take only photographs and leave only footprints. Do not disturb any native flora or fauna, and always dispose of trash in a proper container.

FOR MORE INFORMATION …

Responsible Travel Report

Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Travel from National Geographic

Sustainable Travel International

EcoTourism Tips from Green Global Travel

How to Travel Sustainably

Over the River and Through the Woods: 7 Sustainable Travel Tips

30 Tips for Sustainable Travel

Global Sustainable Tourism Council

Sustainable Couch

The Ethical Traveler

Going Green at the Office

Staff Report, Fort Bragg Environmental Management

(Scroll to the end of the post for a printable poster!)

Many Americans spend much of their days in an office, and for the 144 million members of the work force, the office can be a “home away from home.” By incorporating sustainable practices into the operations of the office, one can save natural resources, conserve fiscal resources and turn a “home away from home” into a healthy, efficient environment.

Recycled Content Post-It

Here are some easy ways to “go green” at the office …

ENERGY CONSERVATION
– Use task lighting and natural lighting when possible.
– Use the power saver feature on electronics such as copiers and printers.
– Set office thermostats in accordance with Army regulations: 68 degrees (+/- 2 degrees) in the heating season and 78 degrees (+/- 2 degrees) in the cooling season.
– Power down computers and other electronics at the end of the duty day.
– Unplug electronics and appliances when the office is to be unoccupied for a long period of time, such as a deployment or holiday.

SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION
– Arrange a carpool with colleagues.
– If possible, consider cycling or walking to the office.
– Consider the Fort Bragg Sustainable Shuttle when traveling on post.

WASTE REDUCTION
– Circulate office notices electronically.
– Distribute, review and store files electronically when possible.
– Request publications such as newsletters and magazines to be delivered electronically.
– Use both sides of the paper when printing and copying.
– Reuse office supplies as much as possible.
– Replace disposable items with reuseable items.
– Always recycle paper and other recyclables!

RESPONSIBLE PURCHASING
– Complete a thorough inventory of office supplies prior to ordering to avoid waste.
– Purchase paper and other products with a minumum of 30 percent recycled content.
– Purchase non-toxic and less-toxic versions of materials such as cleaners and inks.
– Purchase energy efficient and water efficient products.

INNOVATION
Consider innovative ways to be sustainable and resource-conscious at the office. Does your office present any unique opportunities to “go green?” Share your ideas on Facebook.

WANT TO POST THESE IDEAS IN YOUR OFFICE? SELECT THE IMAGE FOR A PRINTABLE POSTER!

Green Office Week Poster

Tossing Your Electronics in the Trash is SO Obsolete! Recycle Them Instead!

Did you receive new electronics for the holidays?

Recycle your obsolete models at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center!

Recycle Keyboard

Electronics contain many recyclables including plastic, glass and metal. Electronics also contain heavy metals, chemicals and other materials that can potentially harm the environment and public health when they are not properly discarded. Furthermore, certain electronics are banned from disposition in landfills in North Carolina.

The Fort Bragg Recycling Center accepts personal electronic equipment that runs on batteries or cords. Accepted items include televisions, computers and monitors, computer peripherals, keyboards, printers, scanners, cables and wires, telephones, cellular phones, video games and game systems, CDs, DVDs and small kitchen appliances with the exception of refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers and other white goods.

If you wish to recycle a computer, please first remove the hard drive.

The Fort Bragg Recycling Center is located on the northwest corner of Butner Road and Reilly Road, across from the Fort Bragg Veterinary Clinic and just prior to the entrance to Pope Army Airfield. Hours are Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM until 4 PM.

The Fort Bragg Recycling Center does not accept government issued items. Government issued electronics should be relinquished to Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services.