The $150 billion consumer electronics industry has been booming, despite a slowdown in the economy overall. But all those cell phones, computers and iPods have a big impact on the planet, in terms of energy use, resources needed and disposal issues.
As organizer (and Inhabitat founder) Jill Fehrenbacher said at the Greener Gadgets Conference in New York City, it's true that many of us who are writing, speaking and learning about and trying to live by the principles of sustainability also spend many hours a day surfing the Internet, chatting on our cell phones and so on. That's why Fehrenbacher and others are helping to focus attention on the growing movement to green up our gadgets.
Speaking in his (somewhat faded) South African accent, Vice President and General Manager John Solomon of Hewlett Packard told the Greener Gadgets audience that environmental issues have become front and center for the whole tech industry. "The IT industry is based on innovation, and it's through innovation that we believe many environmental problems are going to be solved," said Solomon. "HP has made the environment a core of our business, instead of just a checkpoint. As a company you ignore the environment at your peril."
Experts explained that some of the ways industry is leading the way toward sustainability include increasing improvements in energy efficiency; providing ways to charge devices directly with renewable energy; eliminating mercury, cadmium and other toxic materials from products; beefing up recycling efforts; reducing packaging materials; cleaning up manufacturing processes; offsetting greenhouse gases; and so on.
So from the Greener Gadgets Conference, here are facts you didn't know about electronics and the environment:
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.