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When Computing and Printing

All electronics should be disposed of properly with electronic waste.

Power Management

  • Set your computer to automatically enter energy-saving modes. Set your screen to go into sleep mode after five minutes of inactivity and your computer to go to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity. Visit this site for instructions from EnergyStar on how to enact these settings for various operating systems.
  • Don't use screen savers. Screen savers were originally used to prevent monitor-damaging phosphor burn. However, today's monitors are not susceptible to such damage. Screen savers don't save energy and actually can use up to twice the energy of a computer screen in normal use.
  • Reduce the brightness setting on your screen. The brightest setting on a monitor consumes twice the power used by the dimmest setting.
  • Only turn on your computer when you are actually using it. We are often in the habit of turning on our computers when we are in our rooms or offices, whether or not we are actually using it. Kick the habit!
  • Shut down your computer when you won't be using it for a few hours. Although sleep settings reduce power use, when you won't be using your computer for a long period of time (such as overnight), it is best to completely shut it down.
  • Unplug peripherals such as printers, chargers, and speakers when not in use. Ensure that these potential energy thieves don't draw "phantom load." Another option is to plug them into a power strip that you can switch off when not in use. "Smart" power strips detect when devises are off and shut off power to those outlets. See more information about energy loads of appliances in this document [pdf] .

Printing

  • Read and annotate PDFs on your computer rather than printing them out. If you want to digitally annotate or highlight a PDF, use Adobe Acrobat Professional or Foxit (available at http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader). In Word use track changes. 
  • Use less paper when you print by:
    • Printing double-sided. To change print settings on campus printers, click on the "Properties" button on PCs or switch to the "Layout" menu on Macs. ITS charges the same per page, no matter how many sides you print on.
    • Printing on scrap paper (one-sided documents) whenever you don't need a professional or final copy. Duplicating charges half-price if you bring in one-sided documents for reuse when making copies or flyers!
    • Reducing font size.
    • Reducing paragraph spacing. Try 1.5-spaced instead of double-spaced.
    • Reducing document margins. This increases the amount of text that can fit on a page and reduces pages needed to print a document. The setting is often found in Word under File > Page Setup or under Format > Document.
    • Print two or more pages to a sheet of paper. When printing pdfs or other documents, try printing two or more pages to each side of paper - with two pages per sheet and double-sided, that's using 1/4 of the paper!
  • Go paperless in class. Use Sakai to turn in assignments and Microsoft Word Reviewing/Track Changes tool to provide feedback electronically.
  • Have a printer in your office only if you need it and if you do have a printer of your own:
  • Opt for paper with high recycled content and sustainability certifications. Buying post-consumer recycled paper truly closes the loop by reusing paper recycled by consumers (as opposed to pre-consumer content, which is basically mill scraps from the factory). Processed chlorine-free (PCF) means no hazardous chemicals used to bleach the paper (and then released into the environment). Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification verifies that the paper products and trees were produced in a sustainable manner.
  • Refill ink cartridges or purchase remanufactured. This will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste, and toxic pollution, but can cost 20-60% less than purchasing a new cartridge!
  • Consider using vegetable-based inks. Vegetable-based inks substitute vegetable oils for petroleum. This significantly reduces the amount of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) released during printer. See www.soyprint.net for some options.

Purchasing a New Computer

  • Only buy a new computer when necessary. Technology today progresses so quickly it is hard not to feel like you need a new computer every couple years. Rather than toss the old computer, upgrade you current one and keep it in good shape. This helps cut down on waste, which can release heavy metals and toxins into the environment if not disposed of properly, and also reduces demand for virgin materials needed to manufacture computers.
  • Opt for a laptop instead of a desktop. Laptops use between one-fifth and one-half as much energy desktop computers. They also require less energy to manufacture, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. They also require fewer materials to manufacture.
  • Opt for an Energy Star certified model. Energy Star appliances meet strict energy-efficiency requirements, set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). They typically require 70% less energy than conventional models.

Laptop Batteries

  • Keep it cool. One of the most important ways you can extent your battery's lifetime is to not let it overheat. Here's how:
    • Use a cooling pad when using your laptop on your lap. A cooling pad sits under your laptop and allows for more airflow, usually with a motorized fan. 
    • Avoid putting your laptop on a soft surface. Your computer's fan cannot function properly when it is on a soft surface, such as a pillow or a blanket. 
    • Keep your desk clean. A messy desk can lead to dust in your computer's vents, which clogs the cooling fan. 
    • Don't store your laptop above 80 degrees.
  • Do not fully discharge your battery every time. Unlike nickel-metal hydride batteries, lithium ion batteries (the kind used in most laptops today) do better when they are not fully discharged each cycle. Instead, it is better to only discharge partially before recharging. A full discharge is only needed about every 30 charges.

Waste Disposal

  • Old computers and larger computer accessories (printers, etc.): Throwing away old computers can result in the release of toxins and heavy metals into the environment through landfills or incinerators. Either bring your old computer to ITS and they will dispose of it properly or put it in one of the appropriate dumpsters in the parking lot behind Mudd-Blaisdell.
  • Peripherals and smaller computer accessories (mice, keyboards, etc.): These can be recycled either at the Recycling Center near the mailroom area or in the white dumpsters in the parking lot behind Mudd-Blaisdell.
  • Ink cartridges: Recycling ink cartridges keeps toxic materials out of landfills and saves energy, because they can be remanufactured. Return them in the packaging provided with the replacement product, or dispose of in the appropriate bin in Smith Campus Center near the mailroom.