Eco-Friendly Computing: 11 Ways to Make Your Laptop More Environmentally Friendly

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The climate crisis affects all of us, and we recognize that in order to limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C, we must significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing the climate crisis necessitates breaking it down into small actions that collectively yield a substantial impact. We can all take simple steps to reduce our carbon footprint, including making mindful choices when purchasing essential items like laptops.

Here are 11 ways to optimize your laptop usage and minimize your carbon footprint:

1. Know Your Carbon Footprint: Familiarize yourself with your carbon footprint, which quantifies the greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and others, generated by your daily activities. Utilize tools such as to calculate your carbon footprint, providing a starting point for identifying areas where you can reduce emissions. Many laptop brands offer information to compare the carbon footprint of various models, aiding in sustainable purchasing decisions.

2. The Power of Recycling: Recycling is not only an environmental responsibility but also a climate-conscious choice. For instance, a recycled aluminum can has a carbon footprint 95% smaller than one made from virgin aluminum. Before acquiring a new laptop, explore options for responsibly returning, refurbishing, or recycling your existing one. Several laptop brands now offer recycling programs, with some even collecting old electronic devices, regardless of brand or condition, for eco-friendly disposal.

3. Repair Before You Replace: Repairing products is essential for prolonging their lifespan and reducing landfill waste. When considering a laptop purchase, evaluate whether the product is designed with repair and recycling in mind. Brands like Dell provide customers with easy access to resources, spare parts, and support for self-repairs, promoting sustainability.

4. Upgrade Smartly: Before buying a new laptop, investigate whether you can upgrade components such as memory, storage, graphics cards, or the CPU. Upgrading can instantly extend your device’s lifespan, reducing the need for a complete replacement.

5. Consider Refurbished: If you decide on a new laptop, consider purchasing a refurbished one through an official refurbishment program. This option offers peace of mind with a warranty and ensures responsible recycling practices.

6. Choose Sustainable Materials: When buying a new laptop, inquire about the materials used in its construction. Sustainable laptops are made from recyclable and renewable materials, including tree-based bioplastics, reclaimed carbon fiber, post-consumer recycled plastic, and bio-based rubber feet from castor bean oil.

7. Prioritize Energy Efficiency: Evaluate the energy efficiency of your laptop, as it can significantly impact your electricity consumption. Look for devices with energy-efficient features and certifications like the EPEAT rating, which assesses overall environmental criteria and helps you make informed choices.

8. Beware of Energy Vampires: Reducing energy usage is an effective way to reduce your environmental footprint. Household devices, including laptops in standby mode, can account for a substantial portion of your electricity bill. Ensure you switch off your laptop at the mains when not in use and avoid overcharging.

9. Consider Packaging: Take packaging into account when making your laptop choice. Opt for companies that use sustainable packaging materials, such as reclaimed plastics and bamboo, which can be recycled or composted.

10. Future-Proof Your Laptop: Protect and extend your laptop’s lifespan by regularly updating its software, maintaining the battery, and keeping it clean. Software tools like Dell’s SupportAssist can help optimize performance and reduce the need for replacements.

11. Maximize Multifunctionality: Make your laptop serve multiple purposes, such as work, school, and entertainment. Consider its suitability for your specific needs, whether it’s gaming, productivity, or other tasks. Repurposing old tablets or phones for various functions can also minimize electronic waste.

As consumers, our choices can influence companies to prioritize sustainability. By supporting brands with strong sustainability initiatives and providing positive feedback through social media or other channels, we can contribute to decarbonizing the economy and advocating for climate change solutions. Whether at the ballot box or the checkout, our decisions send a powerful message about our commitment to a greener future.

By Chris Buchanan, Client Solutions Director, Dell Technologies South Africa