Digital devices such as smartphones and tablets have made a big difference to the world and the way we live our lives. They are also helping people to be more eco-friendly, often without even realizing it:
Reducing The Use Of Paper
As more and more transactions and communications are carried out on digital devices, less paper is used. Payslips are now often sent electronically, as are household bills and bank statements. Those are just things that affect us as individuals but many of the world’s businesses are becoming paperless. This, in turn, means we need to cut down fewer trees, which should help to leave the rain forests and other huge areas of forest intact. This will help reduce both our carbon footprint and deforestation.
Making sure rules and regulations are followed is an important part of keeping endangered species safe. Now, with smartphones, inspectors are much better connected and this has enabled them to catch more poachers. All the laws are readily accessible no matter where they are so it is no longer a case of returning to the office, or lugging around heavy guidebooks to prove they are right and the poacher is wrong.
Supporting an Environmentally Sustainable, Shared Economy
With companies like Uber at the beck and call of your smartphone, you don’t need to own a car. Airbnb helps to fill spaces that would not otherwise be used, and you can stream live from your smartphone or tablet, avoiding the need to purchase DVDs or CDs. It’s also possible to interact with people without going outside at all. Playing online games, for instance, or visiting an online casino can all be done from the comfort of your favorite armchair. When it’s sure to rain or be freezing cold, how much nicer is it to stay in the warmth and play live roulette with a human dealer? And when it’s cold or you just feel like staying in, you don’t have to be bored! Online gaming is becoming a popular, environmentally sustainable way to pass time without driving a car or requiring a local establishment to be open.
Are there Environmental Downsides to Smart Devices?
Using less paper, improving monitoring of threats to endangered species, and the sharing economy lets us use fewer natural resources and improve efficiency. That’s all good news for the planet, but is there harm done to mother-nature by our new addiction to digital devices? According to Greenpeace, there is:
In the last 10 years, 7.1 billion smartphones have been produced. The problem seems to be that, on average, they are only kept for two years. Generally, they are not being replaced due to faulty hardware, but because a new model has come out – increasing electronic pollution unnecessarily. Over their lifetime, they estimate most people have as many as 29 different phones. When we have finished with them, very few are sent for recycling, which, in itself, is a problem. Even when they are recycled, recycling is a difficult process as they have to be shredded before smelting. Very few of the materials in them are recovered for reuse.
Eco-Friendly Solutions are Coming
Tons of metal ores and precious metals are used in the manufacture of these devices. The mines and facilities that extract these are powered by a mix of fuels, but they are predominantly fossil fuels, which have a negative impact on the planet. Many of these problems are already being addressed and the tech industry – which is well known for quickly reacting to problems. Therefore, hopefully it won’t be long before our smartphones are as environmentally friendly as all of the cool technologies they support.