Responsible and environmentally friendly recycling of old or unwanted electronics limits the risk of toxins entering water and air through landfills.

Technology is essential to the modern classroom: computers, tablets, and eReaders give educators and students extraordinary access to interactive resources that connect, inform, inspire, and entertain. Unfortunately, technology can be expensive to operate, becomes obsolete quickly, and create mountains of eWaste if not disposed of properly.

The test for school systems is to maximize IT budgets while avoiding the downsides of essential technology upgrades. To pass it, purchasers should adopt “green purchasing” approaches, which means considering all stages of a product’s life cycle and buying electronics that are designed and manufactured to not only minimize their impact on the environment at the beginning, but also at the end. Readily recyclable electronics boost the recovery of materials such as aluminum, copper, glass, and plastic for use in new products, and recycling these devices diverts potentially toxic substances from landfills.

To save green, buy green

All purchasing choices affect the environment. The objectives of green purchasing are to assess a product’s total impact on the environment – from manufacturing to acquisition to disposal – and make decisions that curb pollution and waste. Selecting energy-efficient electronics reduces polluting emissions from power plants on a daily basis. Selecting fully and easily recyclable electronics also cuts pollution and conserves valuable resources as products reach the end of their useful life.

There are two tools available to help purchasers choose manufacturers that produce electronics with fewer hazardous materials, greater energy efficiency, and recyclable material. ENERGY STAR and EPEAT specifications help buyers compare the energy-saving and environmental features of thousands of available electronics products.

The ENERGY STAR label was launched to make it simpler for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products, thereby decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants resulting from the wasteful use of energy. More than 27,000 electronics products in 60 different categories meet ENERGY STAR specifications set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.