This week at TreeHugger: Working from home or telecommuting definitely has its benefits (beyond working in your underwear), but a new bill introduced to the US Congress would also have some added cash benefits, too. We introduce the guide for How to Green Your Electronics, proving once and for all that being green with electronics doesn't mean living in a teepee listening to truckers squawk on the old shortwave. We discover that a laptop is a truly global product, containing over 20 substances that come from over 10 countries. Lastly, climb on the solar bandwagon and take your mobile phone off the grid.
Sure, there are benefits to telecommuting: less pollution, less time wasted in traffic, more flexibility and getting to work in your underwear are just a few. Some countries, like Japan, have offered tax incentives to employers who institute telework programs for a while now, but a bill recently introduced into the US Congress may give Americans the same opportunity. The bill, introduced by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Representative Lee Terry (R-NE), is called the Parents' Tax Relief Act of 2007. There are a few interesting parts, including a vastly simplified home office deduction ($2,500 or the profit from your home-based business, whichever is lower), and a telecommuting tax credit for employers of up to $2,400 per telecommuter. In addition, employers that provide computers and broadband access equipment can write it off, making such equipment tax-free. Cross your fingers and watch our democratic process in action for the results.
Yes, electronic devices are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives, especially as they get smaller and smaller. We use them as tools and toys to communicate, work, enjoy media, and be expressive. Introducing How to Green Your Electronics, our guide for doing those things and being a little greener. Being green with electronics doesn't mean living in a teepee listening to truckers squawk on the old short-wave. Greening your electronics is a matter of knowing what tech to get, how to use it best, and what to do with it when its useful life is done. Many of these best practices aren't things you'll read in the instruction manual, either. In this guide we'll tell you how to stop wasted energy, what gizmos are greener than others, and what to do about e-waste and electronics recycling. Check it out for a sneak peek at some of the newest green gadgets coming over the horizon.
Laptops are a truly global product, with each machine containing over 20 different substances from more than 10 different countries. Obviously, the impact on the environment for this is a little hard to calculate, with all these parts being shipped all over the world; why don't we leave it as "a lot." What does that mean for TreeHuggers? While buying locally produced electronics isn't an option for just about anybody, it does bring into question whether buying locally manufactured electronics would be the proper thing to do. Would you buy a local mobile phone instead of one made in Japan?
Lastly, it might seem trivial, but taking your mobile phone off the grid could really add up. Consider that there are already nearly 2 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide, and that 90 percent of the world's population is expected to live in an area with mobile phone coverage by 2010. While individual mobile phones do not consume a great deal of energy, most of us consume more energy than is necessary by leaving our phone chargers plugged in. On average, only 5 percent of the power consumed by phone chargers is in fact used to charge phones, while the other 95 percent is consumed by the charger when no phone is plugged in. If unplugging your charger all the time requires too much bending down, we recommend the solar bags produced by Voltaic Systems. Happy charging!
TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.