Going Green - Cut down on the use of electronic toys and green your tech

Urge to use your mobile phone less (photo: Adobe)
Urge to use your mobile phone less (photo: Adobe)

Latest article from Angela Terry

Green Green campaigner and consumer expert, Angela Terry, separates climate change facts from fiction and here she explains how you can take simple, practical steps to help save the planet. Follow @ouronehome & visit https://onehome.org.uk/ for more advice.

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    Q. I keep hearing that computers, smartphones and the Internet are bad for the environment.How do I green my tech?

    A. Brilliant question!

    Too few of us think about the carbon footprint of our personal devices.

    And yet, it’s a huge problem.

    Globally, people ditch 58 million tonnes of electronic waste each year – more than the weight of the Great Wall of China.

    In the UK alone, it’s estimated we have over 55 million unused mobile phones lying around.

    When you consider all the emissions that went into their manufacture – as well as the precious metals mined for their components – it’s a crazy situation.

    Thankfully, there’s lots you can do.

    Here are my tips:

    Extend the life of your device

    The easiest thing is to extend the lifespan of any computers, phones, tablets or games consoles you currently use.

    Save money by not replacing them with the latest, shiniest gadget.

    When your phone company says you can upgrade your handset, you don’t have to.

    Keep using your existing phone until it stops working.

    Similarly, try and use any home computers, laptops and tablets for as long as possible. Have an IT specialist clean up your PC or Mac – to keep it running faster and longer.

    Buy refurbished tech

    When your old device finally gives up, buy refurbished, second-hand tech.

    In many cases, refurbished gadgets operate just like new.

    Just make sure to check that you’ve not only got a decent price, but also a good returns policy and warranty.

    Second-hand goods bought from online retailers are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which allows for 14-day returns and repair or replacement if the gadget can be proved to be not “fit for purpose” within six months.#

    If you buy from an individual, you won’t have these rights.

    Apple Store offers a refurbished section.

    CeX, Back Market and Amazon Renew are some of the other main retailers.

    Curb your online habits

    Every time you perform an activity online a few grams of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere, because of the energy needed to run your devices and wireless network.

    Even more emissions are released to power the data centres and vast servers that support the Internet globally.

    Considering that 63 per cent of the world’s population – 4.9 billion people – now use the net, it all really adds up.

    Try and use the Internet when it suits your needs rather than scrolling endlessly through social media.

    Go for a walk or talk to a friend instead!

    It’s better for your health too.

    Celebrity Spot

    Football pundit and former England star Gary Linekerissued a stark warning on social media to his followers that heatwaves are no cause for celebration but a sign that our world is overheating.

    Raising green awareness, Gary Lineker (photo: Getty Images)

    In a tweet, he said: “Another heatwave over Europe and elsewhere. Records broken year on year.

    We’re like a cancer patient who knows there’s a tumour, but prefers to ignore it and hopes it goes away, even though it gets larger everyday.” He’s also doing his bit by switching to driving an electric mini.

    Green swap

    Instead of disposable makeup-remover wipes, use washable pads or cloths – preferably made from a sustainable fabric – in conjunction with your favourite cleanser.

    Urge to use ecological reusable washable make-up remover pads to cleanse skin (photo: Adobe)

    Anything disposable – even if it claims to be biodegradable – isn’t the best environmental option.

    How do you prepare your home for heatwaves?

    As the world warms, heatwaves are becoming more common.

    Globally, the seven hottest years on record have all been since 2015.

    We need to adapt our homes accordingly. Here are some ideas:

    Avoid air-conditioning

    Installing air-conditioning units is counterproductive.

    They require lots of energy to run and emit wasted heat.

    Both contribute to climate change, which is what’s making everything so hot in the first place!

    Work your windows

    It might be tempting to fling open your windows, but you need to keep the hot air out during the day.

    This means keeping windows closed and covering them with blackout blinds or curtains.

    At night-time, when the temperature’s dropped, you can open them and give your house an airing.

    Insulate

    Insulation is usually associated with keeping the heat in during winter.

    However, in the summer months it works to keep heat out, too.

    It’s a year-round investment and one that’ll help reduce your energy bills, whatever the weather.

    Switch off appliances

    A lot of heat is generated from household appliances, so switch them off.

    Don’t leave them on standby.

    Make sure the backs of fridges and freezers have plenty of ventilation space, as they can pump lots of unnecessary heat into a room.

    Use water and nature

    Setting out bowls of water can help cool hot air.

    They can be particularly effective in a bedroom at night.

    Similarly, plants act as natural air conditioners and pump moisture into the atmosphere, so consider investing in houseplants. Trees in the garden can also provide shading.

    Fan efficiently

    Sometimes it’s just so hot you end up resorting to an electric fan.

    Since heat rises, the coolest air in your house is going to be at floor level, so set your fan on the floor and point it upwards. Position it so that it points towards the opposite wall.

    This will bounce the cooler air off the wall and back into the room, mixing with the warm air to cool the overall temperature. Place a bowl of cold water in front of the fan makes it even more effective.

    Install awnings

    If you have bi-fold doors or south-facing windows that are turning your home into a greenhouse, consider installing awnings or wooden shutters.

    They’re popular in Mediterranean countries for a reason! Awnings can cost around £4,000, but a well-positioned sun parasol is a cheaper alternative.

    Fact or fiction

    Heat pumps only work in new builds.

    False!

    Heat pumps can be fitted in all kinds and ages of flats and houses. It’s just a question of first ensuring your insulation is up-to-scratch and you’ve no ill-fitting windows or doors.

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