Earth Day was on Monday, which got us thinking. How can you make smarter, more sustainable choices with your business’s technology? Or, better yet, how can we show you some cost-effective ways to make environmentally conscious technology decisions?

For Earth Day 2019, we compiled a list of four small changes you can make that can help ease the impact your technology has on the environment.

1. At the End of the Day, Turn off Your Workstation.

It’s tempting to leave your workstation on when you leave the office. We know the story—it’ll be easier to get going when you’re back in the office tomorrow, right? You won’t have to wait for your workstation to power up, you won’t have to open all your applications again, and you’ll remember exactly where you left off. Leaving your workstation on overnight is convenient, but what’s the cost?

You probably spend more time outside of the office than you spend in it. If you get a break, doesn’t your hardworking technology deserve one too? Shutting down your computer when you leave saves energy and puts less stress on the hardware. In turn, less stress can help your computer last longer.

There are other reasons to turn off your computer when it’s not in use, including:

  • Performance. While you’re working, you probably have multiple applications running in the background: instant messaging apps, music apps, time tracking software, etc. These application processes can accumulate and really bog down your computer’s performance. Remembering to turn off your computer every day can help keep your list of running applications to a minimum.
  • Security. Do you manually install your own security updates? Or, does your computer run updates automatically when it restarts? If you’re not regularly cycling your computer’s power, you may be missing out on important software and operating system security updates. If you’re not getting the latest updates, then you’re leaving your system vulnerable to an attack. By enabling automatic updates and shutting down your computer, you can ensure you’re installing your security updates on time.
  • Efficiency. Nowadays, applications need to update often. Some of these updates are security patches engineered to help keep you safe. Others are feature updates that add new tools and performance enhancements. If you’re not regularly shutting down your computer, you might be missing out on these valuable software features.

2. If You Can’t Turn off Your Workstation, at Least Enable Power Management Features.

We know that you can’t always shut down your workstation. Other times, you might forget. When you enable power management features, you can help conserve energy.

Power management features allow you to set the duration of inactive time before your screen shuts off and set the duration of inactive time before your computer goes to sleep. According to Energy Star, “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends setting monitors to turn off after five to 20 minutes of inactivity and computers to sleep after 15 to 60 minutes of inactivity.” To enable power management features on your Windows 10 machine, navigate to Settings > System > Power & sleep. For a Mac, visit Energy Star for detailed instructions.

Furthermore, by enabling power management features, Energy Star points out that your business can save $10-100 annually per computer. Every little bit adds up when it comes to running a business. By making energy smart decisions, you can improve your bottom line and help make a difference.

3. Reduce Waste With Digital Downloads.

When was the last time you purchased new off-the-shelf software? How it was packaged? When you buy new software, it’s usually packaged as a plastic CD, wrapped in plastic or cardboard, with pages of installation and support instructions. After you install the software, where do all those packaging materials end up? More often than not, CDs end up sitting on the shelf or in the trash with the packing materials and guides.

Instead of purchasing hard copies of software, consider digital downloads. In addition to being environmentally friendly, there are many added benefits to downloading software, including:

  • Price. Oftentimes, digital downloads are cheaper than hard copies. Software companies can skip the manufacturing and shipping costs and pass the savings on to you.
  • Speed. When you download your software, you get it immediately. There’s no driving to the store, no waiting on delivery, and no fighting plastic clamshell packaging with scissors.
  • Durability. CDs scratch easy. USBs are small and easy to misplace. When you download software, you can save it in an easy-to-find place on your computer, and if something happens, it’s easy to get a new download. With hard copy software, if something happens to the physical copy, you’re usually out of luck.
  • Security. Many digital downloads are bundled with a subscription-based service model. With a subscription, you get regular security, performance, and productivity feature updates often missing from hard copy versions.

4. Recycle Your Old Hardware

hardwareEventually, you’ll have no choice but to replace some old hardware. What do you do with old equipment? Do you exile it to a storage room to collect dust? Throw it in a dumpster? Consider donating your old equipment to an organization in need.

New hardware can be out of the budget for many nonprofits and education programs. However, older equipment can often get the job done when it comes to simple tasks like word processing. If your local community doesn’t have a donation program, many retailers and manufacturers offer recycling programs.

Last September, High Touch teamed up with Quantum Credit Union to donate 11 workstations to the Kansas School for Effective Learning (KANSEL). Read the story here.

Note: Healthcare, financial services, and other compliance-based businesses must destroy data when recycling or donating hardware. It’s a good idea for any business to clear all data when recycling or donating hardware, but healthcare and compliance-based businesses have more at stake. These businesses can face expensive fines or jail time for not erasing sensitive data. If you plan to donate or recycle your hardware, be sure to acquire a data destruction certificate first. Many recyclers offer this certificate as part of the service for free or a nominal fee.

Are You Looking for an Environmentally Smart Way to Upgrade Your Business’s Technology?

High Touch can help you discover cost-effective, environmentally smart technology upgrades. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-326-6059 or get in touch.

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