Tech Companies Are Going Green - Will The Face of Technology Change?

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By Phoebe Grace Aseoche 
Published May 21, 2021

History of Technology

Since the nineteenth century, what was called the Technological Boom, prototypes of what is now considered a lightbulb, electricity, sewing machines, and industrialized tools made a lasting impact on the world today. Compared to the first automobile created by Carl Benz, our generation as twenty-first-century millennials have owned Teslas, Ferraris, and more. If you didn’t know how to use a phone book or how to look at a map instead of the internet, life would be a lot more complicated. Despite all of these amazing inventions, we need to think about the environmental impact that new technologies have. A common problem that pops up a lot is pollution or global warming. Teens nowadays are more infatuated with technology and getting the latest models. Turns out that a lot of companies are focusing on the recycling trend. Let’s dig deeper into that thought….

Microsoft On Lessen Water Consumption

Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company. It develops, manufactures, licenses supports, and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. Microsoft’s current CEO is Satya Nadella and has held that position since 2014. In order to become more environmentally friendly, They have just announced their plans to: 

  • Decrease its carbon use by 2030 as well as its Water use through partnering with other companies. 

  • Taking responsibility for their land footprint and spreading awareness by “initiating measures and managing ecosystems on a national and global scale.” -  Microsoft

  • The Planetary Computer: A new complex type of computer platforming that is able to process incredible amounts of data and collect statistics on machines, earth, and even outer space.

 

Apple Event and Launching 2021 Tech 

Apple is an American multinational technology company with its headquarters in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. We know Apple from their cellphones and computers. Its current CEO is Tim Cook. Recently they hosted a virtual apple event broadcasted on YouTube to promote the new products coming in 2021. In order to become more environmentally friendly, they have just announced their plans to:

  • Make products out of recycled materials (aluminum, clean energy, and reformed chargers that are beneficial to the environment). 

    • 100% reused aluminum instead of using carbon. 

  • Decrease its carbon use and want to be carbon negative by 2030.

    • The new iMac desktop is designed to not use carbon as one of the materials but still able to work faster and more efficiently using the M1 Chip. 

  • Increase Energy Efficiency: They are using energy in an efficient manner through their warehouses,  stores, retailers, and manufacturing sites. Trying to avoid releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

  • Rely on Renewable energy: Going 100% energy harnessed from solar, wind, and other renewable products. Apple has also taken steps in forest/ecosystem restoration. 

  • Apple stopped selling new boxes for chargers and just providing the wires.

Samsung Environmental Impact

Samsung is a Korean Electronics company that provides smart technology, phones, TVs, laptops, and appliances with technology. The current CEO is Kim Hyun Suk, Koh Dong-Jin, Kim Ki Nam. Samsung’s goal is to manufacture products that have more environmentally friendly disposal. 

  • Samsung Electronics performs Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): The assessment oversees the potential environmental impacts on product manufacturing, distribution, product use, and the phase of disposal.

  • Samsung products are conducted to be more sensitive to environmental factors. (More about their experiments and journey to becoming more aware of the negative effects on the environment in the link below this diagram) 

This diagram breaks down the usage of natural resources and how each product contributes to global warming. As you can see the most contribution is through usage and pre-manufacturing.

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“In order to gain the public’s confidence in the assessment system, we have adopted the certification criteria of Eco-Label, the certification given to environmentally conscious products by the Ministry of Environment of Korea, the United States’ Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Certification, and the United States’ Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) Certification.” - Samsung


Google Already One Step Ahead

Google is a American multinational technology corporation that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, a search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. We use Google in our everyday lives: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, and more! Many students and classrooms use these appliances in their everyday lives. The current CEO, since 2015) is Sundar Pichai. Google has stated that their mission is helping people make a lasting and better impact on the world.

  • Have partnered with nonprofits, research organizations, governments, and businesses to build custom technology and tools to accelerate meaningful change.

  • Going 100% energy harnessed from solar, wind and other renewable products.

  • Google has partnered up with many organizations helping to create a greener and resourceful world. 

  • In order to tackle climate change, Google has given 2 million dollars to supporting communities and  possible customised post-grant support for Startups Accelerator to help make their ideas reality. 

  • Carbon Neutral since 2007. 

 

Amazon’s Everything Store Plans 

Amazon is an American multinational technology corporation based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. From Amazon Prime, a streaming service for movies/tv shows, to shopping for food or clothing, Amazon has created a more affordable and diverse environment. Amazon’s CEO and Co-founder since 1996 is Jeff Bezos, who has been labeled the richest man in the world numerous times. In order to become more environmentally friendly, they have announced their next steps:

  • The Climate Pledge: a commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement (international treaty for climate change).  Funding is over 2 billion dollars. 

  • 100% Renewable energy - by 2025 (in 4 years) 

  • Shipment methods and reducing the amount of carbon used through packaging and delivery. 

  • Amazon has purchased 100,000 electric delivery vehicles, which is the largest amount ever asked. Instead of gasoline and burning fossil fuels. Electric Cars have been proven to be more environmentally friendly, yet still contribute global warming and pollution. 

  • Amazon has invested $100 million in reforestation projects and climate mitigation solutions.

POV From Both Tech and Environmental 

When people think of technology, they think of devices like phones, computers, laptops and even cars. How have tech companies tried to change that assumption? Now during the pandemic, we are constantly using technology for work, school, or anything needed to replace physical interaction. Different known tech companies and their plan to make the world greener and preserve the natural resources. How technology might be the solution to lessening the impact on global warming or environmental problems. Tech companies have polluted and used earth's resources in non beneficial ways which points to how most of the environment's issues are human caused.  We take advantage of the resources around us and it is catching up with us. Here at TYWLS we are proud to be one of the Apple Distinguished Schools and are big advocates for technology through our Robotics club and STEM Programs (Computer Science Program & Software Engineering). 

 

Emily Fields, the STEAM Director and CS Teacher at TYWLS, has had much experience with technology throughout college and entering into TYWLS as a computer science teacher. She has hosted the Hackathon event which encourages the young women at TYWLS to pursue male dominated careers and really take action on their talents for coding (wanting to solve community issues through technology). The Hackathon is an annual event that challenges the minds of software engineers, coders, designers and more in a competitive project. Fields has also guided the Robotics Team in partnering with the facilities of Cornell Tech and other opportunities provided by the Leadership Network. In fact, she was a part of a program through Pratt University where she got to learn more on embedded blended learning. Meaning, using technology in classrooms and making education a lot more efficient.  She was glad to share her perspective on if technology is really the cause of negative effects we have assumed over the years.

 

Although Emily has been more involved in the tech community, she is still doing her part in not contributing to plastic pollution saying, “How do I buy fruit without getting a plastic container? Trash has made me really annoyed.” Fields believes that technology and the idea of innovation shouldn’t be categorized as one negative cause in environmental factors. When asked about the impact of technology on the environment, she responded, “there are different aspects of it like hardware.” She later explains how things made in the past were made to last, such as the first refrigerator or automobile made. However, the present day has made things to last for a more limited amount of time.  The making of technology can be wasteful; technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that we are disposing of more than we are using.

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Fields mentioned an article she recently read about the comparison between electric cars and regular burning fossil fuel cars. According to Urnmeft, Elon Musk, business magnate, industrial designer, and engineer as well as the founder of SpaceX (and much more), has predicted that electric cars will be in high demand in the near future. Elon Musk is one of the masterminds of the famous electric car, Tesla, which came out in 2008 costing the company more than 30 million dollars to develop.  

 

Fields' love for technology and her current profession hasn’t stopped her from appreciating the earth more when she says, “the environment is a beautiful thing that needs to be protected which can seem overwhelming.” Technology hasn’t always had the best record on reusing resources and replenishing them but we are starting to see the changes that they have slowly begun in order to maintain the world we all live in. With one final quote Fields noted that, “technology is thinking more about the ethics and the environment. The government isn’t regulating the tech companies on environmental outcomes which now the tech companies have taken matters into their own hands.”

 

To balance out the points of view, I also had the pleasure of interviewing Yangchen Gurung who is a fellow Junior and a member of the Environmental Club, also known as The Green Team, at TYWLS. She recently hosted a town hall on Earth Day introducing the Environmental Club and spreading awareness of the important social issues that need to be justified. Although she is an advocate for protecting the environment, she was able to share her unbiased opinion based on past experiences. Gurung first mentions her point of view about the environment and the causes that she has taken pride in contributing to. She feels as though the earth is something we are provided yet we take advantage of it saying, “everyone should care about it, I find it absurd that some people don’t seem to care about it.” 
 

Although Gurung has mentioned many negative aspects of the existence of technology, she can relate to how much technology has become a lifesaver. Especially during the pandemic, if not for laptops, computers, phones, zoom, and more, we wouldn’t be able to learn virtually and safely. Interactions with people around us aren’t minimized to the point of no connection but being able to catch up because of amazing advancements! “It is definitely a privilege” she claims to talk about how she wouldn’t know what to do without her phone and how she has used it to connect with her family back in her own home country.  It is important to maintain our communication with those who are halfway across the world. She hopes that the future of technology will become greener and reformed.  She notices and is amazed that now “People are becoming more educated on this topic and spreading awareness.” She is witnessing how much technology has improved and how some sort of understanding has come between two controversial topics. 

 

Now with the Green Team/The Environmental Club, she has a platform and is bringing the messaging to others in order to stand up for the injustice that the environment is experiencing. The Environmental Club’s main focus for this year is “educating ourselves to educate others (activism and speaking on environmental injustices'' through Teach-ins and Town Hall or even starting from your own house and your own life. Yangchen Gurung ended the interview with an amazing quote “Change starts from your own house, you know? It starts with you and then your family members, and then your friends and everyone else. Hopeful from family to family, We will be able to create or maintain an environment that is a lot safer for the next generation.”

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Sept. 2020, www.theverge.com/2020/9/14/21436228/google-climate-change-pledge-2030-renewable-energy

“Environment.” Apple, www.apple.com/environment/#:~:text=Officially in the green.,operations are carbon

neutral, too.

“Environmental Sustainability: Microsoft CSR.” Environmental Sustainability | Microsoft CSR,

www.microsoft.com/en-us/corporate-responsibility/sustainability?activetab=pivot_1:primaryr3

“Environmental Technology: Impact of Technology on the Environment.” Edinburgh Sensors, 28 Oct. 2020,

edinburghsensors.com/news-and-events/impact-of-technology-on-the-environment-and-environmental-technology/. 

“Environmentally Conscious Products: Environment: Sustainability.” Samsung Levant, 10 Dec. 2020, 

www.samsung.com/levant/aboutsamsung/sustainability/environment/eco-conscious-products/

“EVs To Drive Increased Demand for Nuclear & Uranium.” URNM, 

urnmetf.com/posts/electric-vehicles-drive-demand-for-nuclear-uranium.   

Google Sustainability, sustainability.google/. 

“Microsoft Will Replenish More Water than It Consumes by 2030.” The Official Microsoft Blog, 22 Sept. 2020,

blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/09/21/microsoft-will-replenish-more-water-than-it-consumes-by-2030/. 

Qureshi, Annie. “How Green Tech Companies Lead The Way To An Eco-Friendly Future.” Blue and Green

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