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How can I minimize my computer's impact on the environment?

On this page:


Avoid wasting electricity

  • Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.

    Note: At Indiana University, computers in campus offices may be set to receive updates while you are not using your computer; check with your IT Pro for options before changing your current practices. However, it is always safe to turn off your monitor when not in use and, with older (CRT) monitors, can make a significant difference in energy use.

  • Use power management settings, available on most newer computers. Power management settings determine when the computer and monitor shut off, or go into sleep or hibernate modes, which use less power than regular operating mode.

    Note: Power management settings are different from screen savers. Screen savers use more energy than allowing the monitor to go black, and are unnecessary on all but very old monitors.

  • Turn off peripherals, such as printers, scanners, speakers, external drives, and gaming systems, when not in use.

  • Fight phantom power, the power electronics use when they are in standby mode, which accounts for up to 10 percent of the power electronics use. Plug all your electronics into one power strip, and turn the strip off when you are finished.

  • Use a laptop instead of a desktop. Laptops typically consume less power.

  • When buying a new computer, consider energy efficiency. The Energy Star label indicates that an appliance is efficient compared to similar products. For more, see the Energy Star home page.

The IU Energy Challenge invites members of the IU Bloomington community to compete to conserve the most electricity and water in three divisions: residence halls and apartment complexes, Greek houses, and academic buildings.

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Avoid wasting paper

Print only what is necessary. Share information electronically, and read on the screen when you can. If you need a hard copy, finish editing first rather than printing early drafts, and print on the fewest number of pages possible. For more, see At IU, how can I conserve paper in the STCs? Recycle any unwanted paper; at IUB and IUPUI, recycling bins are available in most buildings, and all Student Technology Centers and Residential Technology Centers.

Note: At IUB, as part of its No Waste initiative, the IU Office of Sustainability (IUOS) has started a desk-side recycling project, providing weekly desk-side recycling pick-up in various administrative buildings and academic offices. For details, see the IUOS Desk-Side Recycling @ Indiana University Bloomington page.

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Dispose of old equipment responsibly

Computers, monitors, and other peripheral devices frequently contain toxic materials, such as lead and mercury; thus, you should never throw old equipment in a landfill. In addition, Indiana law prohibits the disposal of electronics in the trash; see Indiana Regulations Affecting Electronic Waste.

At IUB and IUPUI, IU Surplus Stores will dispose of departmental electronics that can no longer be used at the university. At regional IU campuses, departments should contact their IT directors for disposal information specific to their campuses. See At IU, how should my department dispose of old computer equipment?

IUB students, faculty, and staff can take their unwanted personal electronics to the Monroe County Indiana Solid Waste Management District's Hazardous Materials Facility, 3400 South Walnut Street, Bloomington. The facility accepts any item that requires an electrical cord or battery to operate.

Note: Some items are accepted free of charge; others require a $1 per-item fee. You can take items that are free of charge and in working condition to any of The District's five Recycling Centers. You must take any item that requires the $1 fee to the South Walnut Street facility.

For information about specific items, fees, locations, and hours of operation, see:

If you have questions, call the Monroe County Indiana Solid Waste Management District (The District) at 812-349-2020 or submit the Hazardous Materials Contact Form.

At IUB, many residence halls and buildings on campus have ways for you to recycle cell phones, used toner cartridges, and old batteries. Several of these programs allow for the items to be remanufactured and used again, extending their lives and avoiding the landfill altogether. Campus housing residents can ask their center desks for information.

For more, see the US Environmental Protection Agency's eCycling page, including the guide to donating or recycling computers and electronics.

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Specific actions for IU instructors

At IU, instructors can reduce resource use both in and out of the classroom:

Save paper

  • Accept and grade assignments electronically, using Oncourse.

  • Share information electronically. Keep class resources on Oncourse or on a web page for students to access, or email documents to students.

  • Encourage students to print only what is necessary. Consider carefully whether students need hard copies to meet learning objectives before asking them to print materials. When students must print, encourage them to use print settings that minimize paper use (e.g., setting margins to 1 inch instead of the default 1.25 inches, and using duplex printing if acceptable).

Save classroom projectors

  • Turn projectors on when you need them, not at the beginning of class. Bulbs cost a lot of money, and burn electricity even when they aren't visibly shining.

  • Log out of the system, and power the projector down at the end of class.

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This is document erth in domain all.
Last modified on April 03, 2014.

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