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How to Reduce our Tech Footprint
August 3, 2020 · Aaron Burr

How to Reduce our Tech Footprint

The footprint of tech, as we’ve learned, is a little bleak.☹️ Bleak because of the massive impact our devices have, and also because of the seemingly innocent aspect that data centers, cloud storage, and networks have. Which are only going to get worse if we aren’t careful.

So now that we know about all that stuff, what the heck can we do?!

Where the other article was focused on learning, this article will be focused more on action. We’ll be going over ways to reduce our footprint such as:

  • Tech cleanses
  • Buying fewer, but higher quality devices
  • Buying more sustainably and ethically sourced goods
  • Buying refurbished
  • Voicing our concerns

Tech Cleanses

tech cleanses

Many devices and even many apps now are featuring screen time monitoring.📊 This way you can track how much time you’re spending looking at a screen, and what apps specifically.

As many of us know, screen time and social media use impact our mental health quite a bit. But now we also know the more we are online and sending things through the interwebs, the more energy, space, and resources we are demanding.

This is why it’s a great idea to take scheduled screenless time during the day or week. By setting screenless time during the day we are not only helping our health, but the planet as well.

If you are looking for a more communal aspect, as well as ideas on what to do without a screen, The Minimalists encourage Screenless Saturdays. Every Saturday they go without looking at a phone, computer, tv, or anything with a screen.📱

Buy higher quality devices that last longer

Buy higher quality devices that last longer

This pertains, not only to our tech devices, but really all the things we buy. Devices like phones and computers have such a potent footprint which makes them extra important to buy higher quality so we don’t have to replace them as often.

Higher quality usually means more expensive, at least up front.💵 And it may require us to save up for a little longer before we can truly afford it. But this is better than purchasing a cheap product.

Not only will we end up spending more money in the long term, the true cost is shifted more onto the planet since we will be replacing our device more often than if we had bought one of higher quality. 

Buy more sustainable and ethically sourced devices

Buy more sustainable and ethically sourced devices

This one gets a little tricky. Because of the nature of our devices, or rather the nature of their materials, it’s difficult to get much more sustainable. Or at least it seems that way. Beyond that, the footprint knowledge of devices isn’t easily accessed by the public.

👣Some companies are doing more than others to minimize their manufacturing footprint. This could look like sourcing more eco-friendly materials or running their manufacturing energy off of more renewable energy while also eliminating waste.

Here is one of the more detailed articles on the sustainability (or the lack thereof) of laptops.

As for phones, the data is also complicated. But it could possibly come back to how the company as a whole is approaching sustainability. That being said, there is a really cool, low footprint, and super repairable phone called fairphone. Check it out here!

Buy refurbished or used 

Buy refurbished or used

🛍No matter how sustainably made or repairable a device is, it doesn’t really matter if we don’t need something that is brand new. Or for that matter, if we don’t need to replace anything at all!

Much like shopping at thrift and consignment stores, buying used can be a great way to spread a device's footprint out even longer rather than creating a brand new footprint all together.

Voice our concerns

Voice our concerns

📢Luckily, we are beginning to see new companies spring up like Fairphone to fill the demand of sustainable technology. However, there is still a status quo that is rather hard to escape from due to price, convenience, or accessibility.

This is why it’s important that (even if we don’t have much for other choices of products) we voice our opinions to our companies about what we want to see from them if they want our continued business.

A business's goal should be to solve a problem that the consumer has. And if our problems or demands change, our products ought to change with them.

Voice our concerns

🚙Much like driving a car, we aren’t left with many easy options when it comes to completely eliminating our technological footprint. However, unless we are in a position to drastically change our use of these things, we can have an impact. And we can do it relatively simply: by keeping our over-consumption in check. 

We’ll never be perfect, but that’s never been the goal. The goal has always been to reduce our unnecessary waste, our unnecessary consumption, and to eliminate the harm we inflict on people and the planet.💙

Written by Aaron Burr 

A writer dedicated to working solely with companies on a mission to help the earth and people on it.