personal

How Long Do We Keep Our Devices?

It is difficult to get reliable data on how long we hold onto the 19+ billion edge devices attached to the global ICT infrastructure. Diverse device types and cultural practices complicate the issue. So do changing purchase and lease plans.

Personal Solar for Devices in the Backcountry

I don't go into the backcountry device-free. A smartphone, with backcountry GPS software, and a digital camera are always with me. Planning for an 11-day rafting/hiking trip through the Grand Canyon in April raised the issue of how to power my gear. I decided to go solar to minimize battery consumption. A February week in the Mojave desert (right) gave me a chance to sort out candidate devices and to configure a compact but workable system. Here are reports from the Mojave and Grand Canyon trips.

Conflict Minerals and the Hidden Cost of e-Devices

Our e-devices contain all sorts of exotic materials, many of which, like tungsten, tantalum, and tin, are refined from ores that originate in Central Africa. Called "conflict minerals", they fund warfare in the Congo and neighboring countries. More people are said have been killed here than any conflict since World War Two. Progress is being made, but legal setbacks and weak laws are slowing efforts. The latest critiicisms focus on proposed EU regulations.

Apple in China

were critical of Apple's environmental stance a few years ago, saying that the company was positioned to be a leader rather than a a foot-dragger. Since then, the company has made significant strides, such as improvements to its take-back recycling programs*. On the downside, issues about its Chinese contract manufacturing operations have been slow to be resolved. Recent actions toward addressing labor issues need to be matched with ones addressing environmental issues. Factory pollution takes a toll on both workers and neighbors and a July 2013 report alleges problems still persist. Yet Apple continues to improve its environmental position in China - producing solar power is its latest initative.

Finding the Greenest Notebooks

The EPEAT Gold database includes 389 models for the US. This represents a drop of ~30% over a year ago. The biggest drops came from Toshiba (-47%) and Samsung (-76%), the companies that offer the most models a year ago. Toshiba is still a model count leader, along with HP and Apple. The latter two companies increased their models counts in the past year.

Most Printer Cartridges Still Not Recycled

Workplace social site Cafe Quill has published GreenHab the Office infogrpahic (below). It has many good practices; we're were particularly glad to be reminded of one of the more mundane but still important aspects of Green ICT. And the reminder came with a shocking statistic!

ecoATM Continues to Increase Device Reuse/Recycling

We wrote in 2012 about the ecoATM, "…an automated self-serve kiosk system that uses patented, advanced machine vision, electronic diagnostics, and artificial intelligence to evaluate and buy-back used electronics directly from consumers for cash or store credit." In 2013, we noted the EcoATM concept had been accused of facilitating the theft of e-devices. Now, we note ecoATM appears to be thriving and has received an international sustainability award.

We Need Gamers to Support Green ICT

We are constantly on the lookout for ICT-intensive communities who appear under-engaged in global Green ICT awareness. More active participation from these communities could do much to advance ICT sustainability. We identified American higher education and global ICT4D advocates as two communities where more effective embrace of Green ICT has significant potential. Console gamers comprise another such community. This is important because research firm IHS has marked game consoles for production growth in 2014.

Companies Reveal Prop 65 Chemicals in ICT Products on Amazon

Consumers and businesses shopping for ICT gear and accessories can see which products contain potentially hazardous chemicals. This is due to a state of California (USA) law requiring such disclosure. Shopping on Amazon illustrates how this works.

Household Electronics Energy Use Outweighs More Efficient Appliances

Traditional household appliances have become more energy efficient in the past forty years, but households have not. The growing use of electronics plays a major role in the failure to benefit from more efficient appliances.

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