Green Computing seems to be somewhat a contradiction of terms. We find ourselves in the unusual position of being both passionate about computers and passionate about the environment.
Computers are made of poisonous materials like lead, chromium, cadium and mercury. If computers are buried in landfill, they can leach harmful chemicals into waterways and the environment and if burned release toxic contaminants into the air we breathe. Computers consume energy and no-one has come up with a practical solution for the potential environmental disaster of millions of obsolete computers hitting landfill sites around the world.
Computers can also be harmful to your health because toxic chemicals evaporate in a computer room, are absorbed by your body through your lungs. http://www.svtc.org/cleancc/greendesign/flame_retard.htm and the radiation that is emitted from computer monitors can pose a serious health risk especially to those with long hours of exposure.
However, so much of what we use in our modern society, is harmful both to us and to the environment. This is because modern science has allowed us to create chemicals that are synthetic. This means that they do not biodegrade. Another word for biodegrade means to break down into soil. Plastic will not biodegrade for hundreds of years and if you eat a piece of plastic, it will either pass through you or store up in the fatty tissue of your body. In the same way many harmful chemicals do not break down, and simply pass from one organism to another. Animals high in the food chain, have high levels of toxic chemicals that has accumulated by consuming other chemically contaminated animals. Chemicals are used in the production of almost every consumer product and even natural products are often treated with synthetic chemicals in their growing, manufacture or finishing. Our modern environment - both the air and soil that sustains us is contaminated with toxic chemicals and modern medicine uses the same chemicals to treat diseases and ailments that for hundreds of years were either unknown or treated with natural medicines. Animals are treated with hormones and anti-biotics to increase their weight, food is produced with pesticides, cows are feed grass that has been treated with synthetic fertilizer which then passes into the meat and milk that we eat, cotton is sprayed with toxic chemicals, and our city water supply is flouridated with the waste material from the production of phosphate fertilizers. All these chemicals accumulate in our environment (they are created faster than they can break down) and interfere with the natural cycles of decay and new growth.
Computers however can have many positive attributes. They can reduce the amount of paper we consume and the pollution caused by travelling for work. With increasing security of the internet and applications being held on powerful, centralised servers the need for formal office space will diminish. Low powered computers will not become obsolete because the applications will be run on powerful servers. Computer resources will be better managed. People will be able to do their work from home, banking from home and business can be better organised to minimize waste, pollution and energy consumption. Cities can become decentralized meaning that people will not need to travel as far and pollution from cars will be reduced. Working from home, also means that there is opportunity for people to become more self-sufficient and grow their own fruit and vegetables, thus further reducing the impact of transporting and packaging goods.
The internet is a unique opportunity to promote environmentally sustainable choices and bring heightened public awareness and education in the hope of facilitating change. The problem with the environment is consumption and poor management of natural resources. We need environmentally sustainable agriculture and environmentally sustainable business. People need refer to themselves as custodians rather than consumers. The present level of consumption is unsustainable, and the generations to come will inherit a world polluted by the economic rationalism of this generation.
Green Computing involves minimizing waste by purchasing only what you need, sharing computers and printers, turning off your monitor and computer when not in use, refilling inkjet cartridges with soy or non-petroleum based inks, printing only what is necessary, recycling office paper waste, giving away your computer to charity, family or friends, choosing computers that minimize energy consumption (laptops consume 1/10 energy of a desktop and inkjets consume 80% less energy than laser printers, smaller monitors consume less energy, energy consumption varies from model to model) and participating in computer recycling programs.
Green Computing is also about finding ways to minimize paper waste - like a dynamic website from Passion Computing that allows you to add, edit and delete pictures and text on your website. An up to date website will reduce the need for catelogues and bulky brochures. It's about using the internet to communicate, and computers to organise your business that will not only save you money, but minimize the pollution to the environment caused by unnecessary travel and badly organised delivery runs.
Passion Computing is committed to the conservation of our natural environment. The business minimizes the impact to the environment by careful consideration of resources.