Holiday Shopping Guides for Green Electronics

Energy-efficient TVs and products that use fewer toxins are touted.

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A couple of organizations have made my job a lot easier this holiday season. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have released holiday guides to shopping for greener electronics and energy efficient TVs—sorta, kinda.

“We hesitate to say there are truly ‘green’ electronics at this point,” writes Judy Levin on the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s blog. “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.”

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Ho ho ho?

The Electronic TakeBack Coalition’s green electronics guide was compiled with the help of Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and includes Greenpeace’s ratings on electronics companies (gulp). Gee, this is almost like finding Santa in your living room and having him tell you that sugar plums are bad for your teeth.

But I jest. This is a great service if you’re looking for green (or green-er) electronics. Just don’t expect a cool layout with all kinds of big, shiny stuff. This guide is all business: Just a chart of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition’s and Greenpeace’s latest rankings of electronics companies, based on their takeback and recycling programs and on their policies on toxic chemicals, recycling and climate change. Several companies you know and love earn lumps of coal. (Though not to burn; that wouldn’t be green.)

“While these ratings do not capture the companies’ full sustainability efforts, it gives you a place to start when choosing between companies and their products,” states the guide. The ETBC recently released a report card of electronics manufacturers’ recycling efforts.

There’s also a lovely chart on some IT and consumer electronic products in the United States without polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). (Both bad, very bad.) No mentions of partridges in pear trees, but this is very useful info, too.

Energy Efficient TV Guide

Again, this thoughtful guide from the NRDC is not much in the way of a cool holiday bling with nice pics and snazzy subjective writing and all. It’s a just a simple table with the brand, model number, screen size, estimated annual energy consumption in kilowatt hours, and estimated energy costs over a 10-year period. It could be very useful if you’re looking for TVs without hidden energy hog costs. Kill a tree, print it out and take it to your local big box store. Better yet, see if you can download it to an iPhone, iPad or smart phone. But one that’s BFR, free, please.

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