Holiday Shopping Guide for Finding Greener Electronics

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, many consumers have electronics at the top of their shopping lists. This holiday season, the average American is expected to spend over $230 (more than a third of their gift budget) on electronic products, up about 5% from last year.

Increasingly, shoppers are asking about green electronics; they want to use their consumer spending to support companies doing the right thing to make their products more eco-friendly. We applaud you who seek to spend your green on green.

“Greenish”

But we hesitate to say there are truly “green” electronics at this point.  This industry still has a long way to go (in finding safer chemicals, and using more recyclable materials and designs) before it can really claim to have “green” products. But still, it’s good to support the companies that are making efforts in the right direction, even if we are still at the baby-steps part of that long march towards green.

Luckily, there are some resources out there to help identify companies and products that are leading the way on key environmental issues, which you can find in our 2010 Holiday Shopping Guide For Finding Greener Electronics.

We wish we could tell you there was a single green label that would be a one-stop shop for finding truly greener gadgets. That was the idea behind the EPEAT label (currently available for business computers and monitors), but it’s simply too weak on key environmental criteria to be the only thing you look at, although we recommend EPEAT “Gold” rated products as one thing to consider.  Instead, we have combined a few different resources, report cards, and other tools to make this as user-friendly as possible.  Click here to see the shopping guide.

The shopping guide includes these resources, all in one handy printable reference:

  • A side by side chart of the latest rankings from the Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC, which includes CEH as a steering committee member) alongside the latest scores from Greenpeace, to give you a sense of what the top electronics companies are doing (and not doing) in the areas of chemicals, energy and e-waste takeback and recycling.
  • A list of products “free” of brominated flame retardants and PVC, that are available in the United States. PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are hazardous substances that pose human health and environmental concerns and are being phased out by leading electronics manufacturers.
  • NRDC’s Energy Efficient TV buying guide. NRDC has been a strong advocate for energy efficiency in electronics. Their new guide lists the 200 most energy efficient televisions available. NRDC also offers additional tips on how to minimize the energy use of TVs and some of the products connected to them (like video games and Cable and Satellite Set Top Boxes).

The greenest gift of all

Given all the dated computers, cell phones, printers, VCRs, and other electronics that we all have piled up in our closets, we know that the greenest gadget is the one you don’t buy. Or at least the one you buy used. While this won’t satisfy those craving the latest gadgets, for many of the rest of us, buying refurbished electronics will work just fine.  CEH’s website has resources for buying refurbished electronics and for prolonging the life of your existing products.

So if you’re wondering whether you (or your loved one) really need a new gadget, try extending the life of your current machines instead of buying, and think about donating the money you save to a great, green group! But if you’re determined to buy electronic stuff this holiday season, don’t forget to bring along our guide when you go shopping. In addition to the Holiday Shopping Guide, CEH’s website offers concrete steps people can take at home , at work or at school to improve the sustainability of their electronics.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted November 23, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    This blog is really nice giving information on green products like green electronics which are beneficial for your great holidays.

  2. Posted November 23, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Glad you like the shopping guide. Have you entered our contest to win a free refurbished lap top? If not, that could make a great holiday gift for you or a friend. http://bit.ly/fJqbiv

    I have another great holiday gift idea: How about offering to take your friend’s, family’s or neighbors’ e-waste to an e-Stewards Recycler! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like to have that mess gone from their drawer or closet. It is important that the e-waste only be taken to an e-Stewards Recycler as these environmentally responsible recyclers commit to: No export of hazardous materials to developing country, No landfill or incineration, No use of prison labor and protection of worker health and private data. To find an e-Stewards recycler: visit http://e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler/

  3. Posted November 24, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this post! It’s definitely important to keep the environment in mind during this busy shopping season.

    Also — keep an eye out for super efficient electronics.

    Northwest consumers in the market for new electronics should look for signage carrying a bright orange “Energy Forward” button, indicating electronics that are among the best made today — and that are also at least 30 percent more energy efficient than the ENERGY STAR threshold. For more information, check out http://www.energyefficientelectronics.org.