If you are looking to reduce your environmental footprint, one place to start might be looking at your TV. Technological advancement in consumer electronics has made us more in touch with happenings around the world but, increased our energy usage and taste for shopping while creating a looming environmental problem with landfills.
1. Increasing Energy Usage
Once representing a tiny percent of household electrical usage, with bigger, better and more electronic gadgets in our homes, their share has skyrocketed.
A Deloitte Study, Media Predictions- TMT Trends for 2008, found that:
The proliferation of technology in the living room is creating its own carbon footprint and this is expected to grow…The Energy Savings Trust has predicted that total power consumption for all information, communication and entertainment devices could reach as much as 50% of a household’s total power consumption by 2020.
How has this happened?
Several different actions come into play. Televisions are getting bigger and using more power. Larger sets and plasma versus more eco friendly CT sets are more common. An average plasma TV screen uses about three times as much power per square inch as a CRT screen and the bigger the screen, the greater the usage. So, too is the proliferation of sets in each home, 2.1 per household , impacting our energy usage.
And then there is just the sheer magnitude of electronics in most homes: TV, VCR, DVD player, CD player, perhaps 2 or 3 of each? Game player, projection TV and don’t forget computers and all of their assorted peripherals. Each of these uses energy even on standby, that is, plugged in but not turned on. The complexity of these devices incorporating more and more processors, just increases their electricity usage on or off.
2. Creating a Culture of Consumerism
A British study recently revealed how much the excessive number of hours kids today watch TV, (average 2-3 hours per day) impacts their buying habits and creates a culture of consumerism. Youngsters are exposed to about 10,000 advertisements every year on television, in addition to hundreds of “pop-ups” on the internet. The average 10-year-old is aware of between 300 and 400 different brands.
Advertising creates a “culture of cool” where children are pressured into having to wear the right labels and look a certain way to fit in, according to the findings. As a result, parents have become victims of pester power, especially at Christmas, and feel forced to spends large sums of money on the latest toys and fashions.
3. Filling up landfills
As prices on newer digital sets have dropped more and more Americans are ditching their old analog sets in favor of newer digital receivers. An FCC ruling expected to go into effect in February 2009 could make things worse. By that date the FCC will require U.S. broadcasters to stop transmitting analog signals over the air. Cable companies do intend to continue broadcasting in analog but many will give up their old TVs in favor of newer, better models. With over 21 million analog-only sets still in U.S. homes, this could spell ecological disaster.
Several manufacturers sponsor recycling programs under the Electronics Recycling Shared Responsibility Program. Many states too have set up some form of recycling program for old electronics but the effort is not national, not well publicized and often not well know. Sets (the majority of them today) not recycled will end up in landfills emitting a variety of toxins including mercury, lead and cadmium. Consumer Reports offers several suggestions on what to do with your old set and where to find recycling centers to prevent them from contaminating landfills.
So, if you were considering reducing tube time in your home, you have 3 more good reasons to try to cut down, if not eliminate it completely.