Go green

Inspired by Gore? Want to do more? Read on to learn how to compute in an environmentally friendly way.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  February 1, 2008

When doing this, also consider setting printers to output in monochrome (black and white) mode, by default. Generally speaking, a lot of the time users print in colour when they don't need to. Changing this will reduce the number of colour toners or ink cartridges you get through, bringing down your print consumable spend in the process.

• Teach yourself, and family members and colleagues, how to print web pages properly - i.e. by outputting a web page's ‘print version' (when available) rather than the wasteful, ink-heavy version you originally see on-screen. A useful software app to help you print only what you need, and thus not waste ink and paper, is Green Print - found at www.printgreener.com.

• Demand your company buys and uses recycled printer paper in the first place. (Note: you'll still need access to premium quality paper for outputting marketing and client-facing materials however.)

• Make the most of your printer vendor's consumable recycling scheme. Many of the major printer vendors offer ‘return to recycle' schemes that apply both to their empty inkjet cartridges and laser toner packs. For example, HP's ‘Planet Partners' printing supplies return and recycling program offers just this. Postage-paid, pre-addressed labels or envelopes are included within the boxes of most HP printing supplies, so ask your IT team or fellow printer users to keep these near the printer - so they're close at hand when a cartridge finally bites the dust.

4. Buy right

• When buying computers, monitors and printers, try to purchase ‘Energy Star' compliant models (Energy Star 4.0 is the latest version). Devised by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the ‘Energy Star' rating simply signifies that such systems go easy on energy and can be programmed to automatically power-down to a low power state when not in use.

• Buy LCD monitors rather than energy-hungry, old-school CRT models. And only buy a monitor that's as large as you need; a 17-inch CRT monitor for example uses 30% more energy in active mode than an equivalent 15-inch screen.

• Buy networkable printers and share these between users over a local area network, rather than giving lots of users their own printers.

• Instead of simply dumping your old PC, which will potentially use up landfill space and/or energy when it's broken down, why not sell it or give it to a school or charity? Start by calling your local government office to find out if they run such a give-back scheme (several in the UAE do).

In charge?

If you run an office, consider making these your policies...

• Digitise as many forms and documents as possible and only print when required;

• Have staff turn off their PCs and office lights during lunch breaks;

• Ensure recycling bins are within easy reach of all staff;

• Devise a way of rewarding departments for shutting down the AC and lights in rooms when not in use;

• Encouraging the use of ‘efficient' forms of communication (those that use hardly any power and don't add to your costs), such as MSN messenger, to keep in touch with colleagues and customers in other offices.

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