Monday, October 2, 2023

10 Ways Technology Can Help Decrease Your Environmental Impact


Technology, while not without blame for increasing emissions itself, can also be an incredible tool to help us live a more sustainable life.

If you’re someone that’s always looking for ways to mitigate the impact you have on the environment, you’re not alone. The importance of caring for our planet has never been clearer, as the long-term implications of modern life become more evident every day. It is as crucial for individuals as it is for businesses and governments to take ownership of their role in keeping the planet healthy for future generations.  

woman phone
Are social media ‘scroll holes’ as bad for the planet as they are for our mental health? Keren Levand | Unsplash

It’s not always easy to know the best ways to protect the planet on an individual basis; there’s such a lot of debate around the best ways to do things and so many options you need to think about.

How to use technology to reduce your environmental impact

With so much information, it can feel impossible to even know where to start. Fortunately, a lot of the changes you can make are simple and easy, made even easier by the use of technology.  

1. Invest in an EV 

An electric vehicle is one of the best ways to help reduce your personal carbon footprint. Fossil fuel-powered vehicles are one of the biggest causes of emissions, and there is a significant push from many governments to encourage drivers to switch to electric, including tax incentives.

recycling ev batteries
Courtesy Tesla

EVs can be pricier than conventional vehicles when initially purchasing, but you’ll get great benefits in the long term as fueling costs are significantly lower. Look into the different makes and models available to find the one that could suit your lifestyle best, being mindful of the driving range each offer.  

2. Install A smart thermostat 

A smart thermostat can be an excellent addition to the home; it can help you manage the heating throughout your home and reduce your energy consumption significantly.

Smart thermostats are also handy for managing the temperature of your home on the go; you can turn up the heat before your commute home on a cold day or warm up the kitchen before getting out of bed in the morning. Smart thermostats will also offer insights into your energy use and help you develop schedules for your heating to minimize waste.  

3. Get solar paneling installed 

Solar paneling is one of the most popular pieces of green tech around. Harnessing the sun’s rays to create energy for your home is an effortless way to reduce your carbon footprint and show that you’re serious about taking care of the planet. Many countries even have the option to sell back any excess energy you produce to the grid – a real win-win for both eco concerns and your wallet.

4. Reuse and recycle 

To be truly eco-conscious, you’ll need to break out of the habit of buying and replacing, instead choosing to reuse and recycle tech when you can. There are electronic stores, both digital and physical, that specialize in refurbishing second-hand devices into perfectly functional machines – even, in some cases, better functioning. You could look at ways that you can reuse your own devices or find suitable places to recycle them once they have reached the end of their life cycle.  

5. Decrease your computer storage use 

You’ll also need to use your tech in a way that maximizes its efficiency if you want to improve sustainability throughout your life. Laptops and computers are used daily, so they are a good starting point for making sustainable change.

Computers, courtesy freestocks | Unsplash

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of minimizing the storage you use on your computers and devices to make them more energy efficient. If possible, you could also reduce your reliance on cloud storage which itself creates emissions. Compressing your files, like PDFs and JPEGs, can go a long way to freeing up storage space and keeping your computers running smoothly and efficiently. Smallpdf has a great tool to help you keep all your essential documents stored on your computer at a reasonable size.  

6. Setting your tech on a timer 

Many people leave technology and electronics plugged in even when they’re not being used. This can lead to unnecessary energy consumption that is bad for the environment and your finances.

A smart and simple option if you don’t want to go through the house turning things off at the end of a day is to use a timer. You can set the times that you use these devices most often and have them automatically shut off between times. This is most effective for anything that normally remains plugged in overnight.  

7. Download your media 

Many people download music, TV shows, and films to enjoy on the go, but you might not realize that this is not just convenient – it is good for the planet. Downloading your media uses up the same energy as streaming it once, but no more for subsequent plays. Of course, you’ll be limited by the size of your device’s storage, but it is definitely worth downloading anything you play regularly.  

8. Increase the lifespan of your tech 

The tech we use is valuable, and anyone that doesn’t try their best to prolong the lifespan of their devices will end up paying more over time – to say nothing of the impact on the environment. You can prolong the lifespan of your devices simply by taking proper care of them; you might be surprised to know how many laptop and computer owners don’t know the simple fundamentals of their care. These include: 

  • Regular cleaning 
  • Handling with care 
  • Keeping out of reach of children and pets 
  • Unplugging when charged 
  • Antivirus scanning 

9. Turn your devices off for a while

It’s important to find balance in all things, and this applies as much to the use of technology as it does to other areas of our lives. As much as tech can do for helping us live greener lives, it is important to take regular breaks from devices to give our minds a rest. Try going into Monk Mode for a bit and see if that gives you a refresh.

a tv in the forest
E-waste | Courtesy Tom Wheatley via Unsplash

This time off of devices can also be invaluable to help prolong the lifespan of our devices and cut back on unnecessary energy use from charging them throughout the day. You could consider setting yourself set screen-free time throughout the day – maybe an hour or two to start, then increasing over time.  

10. Share and inform to build awareness 

It is everyone’s job to learn and be aware of how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. When possible, it can also be invaluable to show others how and why being green is so important.

Technology offers us an incredible platform to educate others within our social circles and beyond – you can inform your connections on social media about the ways they can be more eco-conscious or simply lead by example by showing your latest personal green initiatives.  

Related on Ethos:


The Complicated Ethics of Eiderdown, the World’s Most Expensive Feathers

Yes, they're warm, but are eiderdown feathers ethical? What's the difference between eiderdown and other down feathers? The world's most expensive down, explained.

Parley for the Oceans Gives New Life to Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s L’Arc de Triomphe Wrapped

Two years after it debuted on the Champs-Élysées, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's final artwork, L'Arc de Triomphe Wrapped, is being recycled for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Saudi Arabia Joins Electric Car Manufacturing Race with Lucid Group

Saudi Arabia has welcomed its first car manufacturing facility, which will produce Lucid Group's award-winning electric vehicles.

Why We Need Sustainable Reporting On Scope 3 Emissions

Current reporting is falling short on Scope 3 emissions data. But for this significant progress marker in meeting climate goals, we need tools that can drive a sustainable future.

The Climate Crisis Is Causing Algae to Overproduce. Here’s Why That’s a Big, Toxic Problem.

You may have heard about the giant 5,000-mile-wide algal bloom that recently hit Florida's coast. It's just one of a growing number of toxic algae blooms threatening the oceans and human health.