5 steps to save the planet, Earth Day, Apple special

Apple has loudly rejected the flawed logic of climate change denial, putting its weight behind Earth Day, but every Apple user can take a few simple steps to join this struggle.

[ABOVE: Narrated by Apple CEO, Tim Cook, this is a commitment to corporate environmental responsiblity.]

Switch it off

Apple's newly updated environmental responsibility pages tell us iMacs use 0.9 watts of electricity in sleep mode, in contrast to 35 watts used by the original iMac.

That's significant, but millions of Mac users can make a big impact by simply turning their computer off when it isn't being used.

If you leave your iMac in Sleep mode for ten hours a day, you save 9 watts of electricity by switching it off -- that's 3,285 watts per year. If we assume 70 million active Mac users (and for the purposes of this illustration pretend they all run modern iMacs, which they don't) that’s a potential saving of 229,950 megawatts of power each year.

The Palo Verde plant in Arizona (the biggest such plant in the US) generates 3,937 megawatts.

If every Mac user switches their machine off when they aren't using it, the combined difference to global energy needs would be equivalent to the production of several power stations.

5 steps to save the planet, Earth Day, Apple special

Disconnect

Battery powered mobile devices use much less power than PCs, but need recharging. Many iPhone, iPad and other device users leave battery chargers plugged in when they aren't in use. They use little power when left in this state, but with perhaps 1.1 billion mobile devices in use today, that small amount of wasted electricity is significant. Yes, the cost savings to you are minimal but if you multiply that small drain by a billion users then the figures add up. The electricity used annually by 170 million iPhone 5's would power all the homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a year. Not only this, but think of the money being handed over to greedy electricity firms for the convenience of leaving your charger plugged in. It's free money for them at little cost for you, but what's the global cost?

Standby

Just how long does it take you to walk to your printer, television, USB hub or external hard drive to switch it on or off? These consume power in standby mode -- not always a lot, but multiply that waste by millions of computer users and the numbers add up. Switching off electrical devices when not in use can shave a dollar or two off your utility bill, which is nice, but the consequences on global energy supply are incalculable.

Shop responsibly

  • When purchasing electrical equipment check the label. Does it tell you how much electricity the device requires in normal use in a clear and intelligible way?
  • Does the manufacturer offer any public statement explaining its environmental commitment?
  • Does the manufacturer of the device you're considering offer recycling support?

Recycle

Recycling schemes exist. Some even pay you for your old electrical devices. Don't just throw these things in the trash for an inevitable journey into landfill -- check with retailers, manufacturers and local services for recycling facilities.

5 steps to save the planet

[ABOVE: A partial scan of a full page Apple pro-environment ad on the back page of a newspaper this morning. "Some ideas we want every company to copy".]

Aware

Each of these steps makes little difference in isolation, but there are many millions of computer users on the planet. The potential difference to global energy demand made by millions taking these few steps is significant. Taking these simple steps will also help encourage other consumer electronics firms to do what Apple wants them to do and the Earth needs them to do: "Benchmark"  its commitment to greener IT.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

FREE Computerworld Insider Guide: Five IT certifications that won’t break you
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies