It is no longer only for our work, it is also at home. Shall we meet with the gang on 15th? I don’t know what the weather will be the weekend. Who was the author of Robinson Crusoe?

In western countries, it seems more and more essential to have a computer handy and on. Nevertheless, many countries still don’t have this dependency.

The uses of PCs are being constantly multiplied, mainly after the arrival of the Internet. Today in western countries, they substitute quite often telephone, dictionaries and encyclopaedias, cinema or television, board games… Even on the Mediterranean area, there is a great disparity in the use of computers. In general, the countries of the Southern shore of the Mediterranean, do not have yet a dependency that may be even harmful (in Spain for example, there have been alerts because of the behavioural disturbance in young people “hooked on” computer chats). Either if we have a lot or few computers, let us prevent that the technology brings us farther than desirable.

How can we go about it:

  • We can think about if an abuse of e-mail or chats does not atrophy our ability to communicate ourselves with other persons, if for some tasks it is not better to work on paper that by means of a computer…
  • Let us appreciate all we can do without the invasion of computers in our lives. To spend time talking with other people, playing, doing things and projects jointly…

The constant coming up of new models which are quicker, or have more capacity or new features is part of the consumerism escalation. According to the entity of recovery of computers “Fundación Bip Bip”, in Spain are thrown away 42,000 tons of computer waste every year, and only an 8% is reused. We have a lot of means to use a computer without having to buy a new one.

How can we go about it:

  • If we need the computer for basic utilities, it is not necessary that it is of cutting-edge technology, one of second hand is the best option. In all the western countries there are many organizations and business that are offering them either by free or selling them and there are organizations that are sending them to developing countries…
  • Before changing our computer let us think about freeing up resources (programs that we do not use, visual effects, to keep data in an external hard disk…) or to increase its disk capacity or its memory.
  • In enterprises or schools it is possible to put a powerful server and to have a computer with less power (a terminal that is not necessary to have updated) at every working post.

Behind a computer there are many kilos of mineral and chemical substances, a lot of water (up to 1,500 litres to manufacture a computer) and a lot of power: chips are so tiny that they have to be manufactured in rooms where there is almost no particles at all in the air. Let us contribute as little as possible to this great consumption of resources.

How can we go about it:
  • Let us remember that in many cases a second hand computer is the best option.

The electronic circuits contain many heavy metals and other polluting substances. In some manufacturing plants it has been detected that its workers have more cancer than the average. Let us look for the computers more respectful with the environment.

How can we go about it:
  • The labels EU Ecolabel, Blue Angel and TCO are awarded to computers that limit the use of the most harmful components, the consumption of the computer and/or the emission of electromagnetic fields. The one with the most strict criterion is the TCO label, some Dell and Fujitsu computers have it.

The programs of computers are monopolized by a few companies. Let us use free programs, that provide more plurality and make it possible that we all can take the maximum advantage of the technological progress (you can find an explanation here).

How can we go about it:
  • For the most part of common utilities there are free programs, some of them can be seen here.
  • Instructions for installing the Linux freeware programs are here.
  • Dell Company can sell their computer with the Linux freeware already installed.

The computer and the peripheral if plugged in, are consuming even if turned off. The laptops consume less than the desktops and the flat screens less than CRT (of cathode ray tube, those which are deep) we have a lot of resources to reduce the electrical consumption of the computer.

How can we go about it:

  • If we stop using the PC for a while, let us hibernate it, suspend it or let us turn down the screen. If we work on Windows we will find how to do it at the Energy Administrator (at Control Panel). If we work with Linux and the property is not installed, we can find it in Internet, some links with more information here and here
  • Plug the PC and the peripherals in a strip with a switch to plug them out comfortably when we do not use them.
  • The screen protector does not reduce the energy consumption of the computer nor the screen.
  • Further information here.

Working for a long time with computers may cause several health problems, let us avoid them.

How can we go about it:

  • Training ourselves to work without forcing any muscle, having our arms and legs forming a right angle and the back and the neck straight, set the screen at the eyes’ level, stretch the legs and the sight (looking far away) every now and then.
  • To minimize the exposition to electromagnetic radiations, the screen has to be situated at least at 30 centimeters from the head, mainly if it is not flat.

Electronic waste is a serious problem. Much of it is exported to Southern countries and they cause health problems to labourers that scavenge them. Let us not contribute to this huge problem.

How can we go about it:

  • If we do not want any longer a computer that can still be useful, let us give it to somebody else, to entities that channel them to other users or let them enter into the second hand circuits.
  • If we want to throw away a PC that does not work any more, let us take it to the shop where we bought it, to a green point, or to a dump.