Green Computing -- From Fad to Fixture

Green technology, an expansive field that is rooted in finding the balance between nature and man-made processes, encompasses everything from how technological devices are built to how they are destroyed and consume energy in between.

In practical terms, it could mean purchasing energy-efficient products made with recyclable materials. Or it could mean how technology tools are disposed of—researchers estimate 70 to 80 percent of electronic waste ends up in landfills. 

Rich Kaestner, who has worked in and around technology for decades, heads the Consortium for School Networking’s green computing initiative, an online clearinghouse of news, tips, and resources for K-12 leaders. He acknowledges talk of green technology has come and gone, but believes it’s finally gaining traction.

“It’s reached its critical mass and become a real issue and not a fad,” he says. “Too many people have recognized something needs to be done.”

Recently, the Government Accountability Office released a scathing report, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of turning a blind eye to the export of old electronics to other countries, which don’t always use safe practices to dismantle the hazardous waste.

Kaestner says surveys have shown that, despite growing awareness, there hasn’t been a lot of incentive for people to take action, particularly in schools.

“The thing that’s holding this back is no one is taking the initiative on this, no one’s taking charge,” he says. “Schools have a responsibility to set an example to the community at large as well as to students. They have a political and ethical responsibility to address green initiatives.”

The tide may be changing, however.

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