Most of us own a computer (laptops are more common these days, and some people only surf on their phones). Like electricity, computers can be used for good or bad. They can be used to educate and inspire, find lost pets, create and find jobs or sell artisan wares. Or they can be used for child pornography, comparing stuff with others to make your life seem empty and meaningless, and also for cyber bullying and even cyber terrorism. This post looks at speeding up your computer, recycling techno-trash and eco alternatives like Recable (above).
Is It Time for a Digital Detox?
A digital detox does not mean going offline forever, but it may help your sanity for a bit, to get offline. Or better yet, take a whole day, week or month off the computer, to see if you feel better. Obviously you may have to go online to work or order shopping. But you could give up social media, receiving pointless emails and stop surfing the news and Pinterest.
The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World is a wonderful book by writer Christina Crook, who decided to go without the Internet for 31 days, after hearing of a Vicar blessing a Blackberry (the phone, not the fruit). Deciding the world had finally gone mad, she wanted to know what she could learn from missing out on Internet and social media for a month. Although now back online, she found we have to be discerning in our use of the online world.
- Download Adblock Plus to remove online ads. Once used, you’ll never go back. It takes seconds to remove annoying ads and pop-ups, they simply disappear – whoosh!
- This Chrome extension removes sidebar videos. If you watch a YouTube videos, this stops ‘suggested videos’ popping up.
- Check online news once daily (maximum). Or get weekly in-depth news from Byline Times. Get informed, then move on with your day.
- Don’t reply to spam mail, you’ll just get more. Install free MailWasher to preview before reading.
- Delete unwanted files, clear browser history, empty your recycle bin and disk clean. WiseCleaner is free and scans/deletes unwanted files in seconds including translation files you never need and Microsoft help files (who reads them?? This also helps secure privacy, and there is another download to recover lost files, if you need it.
- f.lux software (based on location) turns your screen to a colour more akin to daylight, if you find that screens hurt your eyes (staring down at a laptop daily also can cause facial jowls and sunburn ageing). The Dragonfly is a portable bamboo laptop stand that stops this, by keeping your head upright (preventing neck/back/shoulder pain).
How to Clean (and speed up) Your Laptop
Often slow laptops are not broken, they can be ‘fixed to factory settings’ for £50 by taking it into a laptop repair shop for a professional clean. Always install recommended updates too and let your laptop have a rest to cool down (too much heat can damage the battery).
- Use compressed air to blow out dust and crisps, this can sometimes remedy a slow laptop (dust stops laptops cooling down). You could risk doing the same with a cool hairdryer, but it could damage the computer.
- Proton Mail is a good free privacy-safe email from Switzerland. Set one up then you can delete old emails that send you junk mail (also delete old blogs and websites, check you are no longer paying for them). It’s also good to uninstall unwanted installations on your control panel.
- pCloud can store files on your laptop, in case you need a clean-up or to buy a new one, then add them back when done. Strict Swiss privacy laws means your files are safe and private.
- Stop Spammers is a great free plugin to stop spam mail for blogs and websites. We got loads, then installed this and it disappeared in seconds. You have to disable Jetpack spam settings for it to work (it has a few negative reviews, but most are good).
How to Prevent (and recycle) Techno Trash
This refers to the huge amount of e-waste like clunky desktop computers, printers, scanners, cables etc. What do you do with it? Don’t send it to Africa or Asia, that’s what. These continents don’t want all our rubbish. Ghana’s main ‘digital dumping ground’ at Agbogbloshie is where most of the world’s e-waste ‘goes to die’. Yet melting parts down to sell copper and metals results in toxic waste and fumes (even the food there is now contaminated by fumes from melted electronics).
Recable (Germany) offers a sustainable conflict-free cable which is fairly-made and you can fast-charge with your phone. You can repair 90% of the parts, and they donate a day’s worth of food to wild birds, for each one sold. Held together with a grass paper belly band and printed with eco inks, this is made with green electricity, and shipped in a cardboard box.
The Restart Project holds regional ‘repair parties’ to teach people how to repair broken electronics, and rethink how to consume them in the first place. The UK is the world’s second-highest producer of e-waste per person, with appliance failure rates growing.
You can donate unwanted computers to charities (business can recycle at Weee Charity). Order a Terracycle Box (there is a one-off charge to collect and recycle a whole community’s e-waste in one go). Learn how to wipe clean your hard drive (for security bank details etc). Donate ink cartridges (money goes to the small charity of your choice).