With technology traditionally being viewed in opposition to the environment, with its reliance on power, batteries and mass manufacturing, the term green technology may sound like something of an oxymoron.
However, sometimes technology can reshape society in surprising and unexpected ways, being used for different purposes than that in which the product or service was originally intended. In this way, certain technologies are being used to mitigate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment, reducing our carbon footprint rather than increasing it.
This rise of green technology is an interesting time for employees working in technology and development, allowing them to use their tech skills to help create positive change.
Here are 5 exciting examples of green technologies changing the world for good.
One of the ongoing problems of traditional power outlets is their continual need for power, even once a device or appliance has been switched off.
This continual use of power is often referred to as “vampire power” with its blood-sucking power consumption draining both the environment and your electricity bill.
To combat this waste of energy through vampire power, green power outlets have been designed that allow you to cut off all power to your appliances with one easy turn of a dial, increasing your energy efficiency and reducing environmental impact.
Did you know that many electronic devices can be harmful to the environment if they’re not disposed of correctly?
With approximately 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronic waste (or e-waste) being disposed of every year, e-waste is a huge problem for the planet.
As well as being harmful to the environment, electronic waste can also cause health issues for individuals. The tiny parts that go into your mobile phone, computer and TV can contain mercury, lead, cadmium and other dangerous metals inside. While dismantling and salvaging products for gold and copper, e-waste can pose a risk to people in developing countries tasked with this dangerous job.
However, the good news is that tech companies can now take care of their e-waste responsibly, through companies who will directly pickup and process e-waste and ensure none ends up in landfill or in the wrong hands.
With the exciting world of 3D printing continuing to grow, there have been some inspiring arrivals in the green technology sphere.
For example, Australian scientists are one step closer to making a cheaper and faster way to print solar cells onto plastic. Once available, this technology could be used to power laptops to rooftops, allowing you to run your home responsibly on power from the sun.
Green technology could also see the invention of a home 3D printer able to produce solar cells from easily available materials, with the capacity to provide remote areas outside of the power grid with cheap and reliable electricity.
With many people in developing countries living beyond the energy grid, electricity is a precious and valuable commodity.
In Africa, with half of sub-Saharan Africans living without power, many households rely on kerosene lamps – which are not only expensive to run but produce toxic smoke into the atmosphere.
Recently, the introduction of tiny solar lights, generating just a handful of watts, have made reading or working at night possible. These solar lights, being free to run and safe to use, have opened up possibilities for education that were previously unimaginable to many Africans.
Computers are a continually rapidly growing source of carbon, contributing to approximately 2% of global emissions, with that figure likely to double within a decade. Is there a way for the IT industry to continue without the huge drain on power from fossil fuels?
Green IT products focus on providing consumers with more environmentally conscious hardware, such as energy-efficient laptops and servers. There are also software options on the market that can power down our desktop when it’s not being used, or run in the background of your operating system and tune up your computer's own energy-saving hardware.
The use of these technologies holds promising hope for the future, with innovative products and services enabling individuals and communities to reduce their carbon footprints and impact on the planet. It also offers an exciting time ahead for those working in the technology industry, allowing you to use your tech skills to help change the world for good.