As consumers our top considerations when buying a new device are specs, performance, value for money, and design. We rarely think about the impact we and the technology we use have on the environment. The only time we probably ever do is when we need to dispose an irreparable phone or a dinosaur laptop. When that moment comes, we also don’t know exactly what to do or where to bring our old devices.
Fortunately there are companies like Dell that think ahead and consider the entire lifecycle of their products — from sourcing materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and recycling — and beyond. This approach is called a circular economy.
In a traditional, linear product cycle, recycling or refurbishing is thought of at the end of the product’s life, if at all. In Dell’s circular economy, the concept of waste is designed out of the system. This means sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. Here are some ways Dell is minimizing their footprint as a company while helping us consumers reduce ours as well:
Trade-in and recycling programs, not just for Dell products
Through Dell Reconnect, you can take that old computer sitting in your attic to a Goodwill store for recycling or refurbishing. The program also provides green jobs, and ensures that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to landfills.
If you’re due for an upgrade, the company can also recycle your old laptop for you, no matter the brand. You may also trade in any eligible piece of electronics, including smartphones and consoles, to earn a gift card that you can use to buy yourself a shiny new Dell laptop.
Packaging made of bamboo, mushrooms, ocean-bound plastics
To solve mountains of packaging problems we face after unboxing a new device — large fancy boxes, plastic, and foam — Dell has come up with the 3Cs packaging strategy, which stands for cube (size and shape), content (material choice), and curb (recyclability).
For Dell, wasted space inside any packaging is just that — wasted — so the company is continuously finding ways to minimize the amount of material needed to create packaging, as well as reduce box sizes so as to fit more products in storage and during shipping.
More importantly, Dell uses the best possible material to protect the product, and consider that which makes most sense for each region by using what’s locally available. In 2009, Dell was the first to use packaging made from bamboo. Not only is it a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived foams, the bamboo they used also grew near their manufacturing facilities.
In 2011, Dell developed cushion packaging made of mushroom, which has a smaller footprint compared to the usual protective foam, and is compostable. Recently, the company also started taking ocean-bound plastics back to the economy where they can be reused to make the trays found inside Dell boxes.
The company reuses boxes up to 7 times before they are recycled. So when you buy a new laptop and the box is not in its most perfect form, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain markets, Dell also rewards customers for returning packaging that can be refurbished and reused.
Ink made of smog
Here’s an unexpected way Dell is putting waste back into the economy and using locally available materials at the same time. Traditionally seen as a pollutant, the company is using ink made from smog in India to print some of its packaging.
A startup called Chakr Innovations developed the device called Chakr Shield which captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators. The captured soot is then turned into carbon black, which is used to make ink. Dell is the first to use the ink on a larger scale and it works just as well as regular ink.
Backpack made of recycled windshields
Dell doesn’t just make computers and printers, they also make a whole array of accessories, and some of them are made with sustainability in mind. The Dell Pro Backpack 15 is made with a more environment-friendly solution-dyeing process. It’s also water-resistant, which is made possible by a layer of coating that’s made from reclaimed windshields.
Jewelry made of used computers
In its effort to reduce waste dumped in landfills, Dell also reclaims gold from motherboards through its recycling programs, reuses them to make not only new motherboards, but jewelry as well. So that old laptop you’re going to trade in for a new one? Parts of it will end up on someone’s finger or ears at some point, not in a developing country that becomes a dumpsite for other companies and countries.
Vivian Tai, Head of Global Environmental Affairs for the APJ region says the company is integrating sustainability efforts not for Dell’s benefit, but to provide better value for customers. She says sourcing and bringing what many consider “waste” back to life is challenging but is important to the company. Just this year, Dell already reached two of its 2020 goals: recover two billion pounds of used electronics and use 100 million pounds of recycled-content, plastic and other sustainable materials, one full year ahead of schedule.
Next time you need to buy a new laptop, take sustainability into consideration, too. Technology plays a big role in making our lives easier, and the good that it can do should not end at that but also extend beyond its usual lifecycle. It’s not just big companies who benefit from minimizing our ecological footprint — it’s also us, consumers, and the generations that come after us.
macOS Monterey now available
Time to upgrade!
If you’re feeling left out with the release of the new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros equipped with M1 Pro and M1 Max, the next best thing is here and it’s free. macOS Monterey, the OS that comes with the aforementioned MacBooks, is now available as a free update for selected Mac models.
If you’re wondering which Macs are compatible, then we got you covered. This way, you know if you’re really already due for an upgrade.
- iMac — Late 2015 and later
- Mac Pro — Late 2013 and later
- iMac Pro — 2017 and later
- MacBook Air — Early 2015 and later
- Mac mini — Late 2014 and later
- MacBook — Early 2016 and later
- MacBook Pro — Early 2015 and later
To find out if your Mac still qualifies, simply click on the Apple logo on the top-left corner of your device, and select ‘About This Mac’. From there you’ll know what kind and what year your Mac falls on. There are also other ways to check which you can look at here.
As for what exactly you’re getting with macOS Monterey, watch this video for the best features!
Can’t watch? Here’s a quick rundown.
Initially introduced on iOS, Shortcuts is essentially a way to cut down the time you spend to execute tasks you repeat regularly. There’s a rich gallery of pre-built actions designed just for Mac like being able to instantly share files, make animated GIFs, and more.
Shortcuts is integrated throughout macOS, including the menu bar, Finder, Spotlight, and even hands-free with Siri. What happens to automator now? Users can easily import existing Automator workflows into Shortcuts and be up and running right away.
For Apple users with multiple devices, Universal Control will be a godsend. This lets users work with a single mouse and keyboard and move between Mac and iPad for a seamless experience, with no setup required. Users can drag and drop content back and forth between devices like it’s nothing.
Safari adds a new tab design, including a redesigned tab bar and Tab Groups, so users can browse the web in new ways.
A new tab bar takes on the color of the webpage and combines tabs, the tool bar, and the search field into a single compact design.
Tab Groups offer a new way to easily save and manage tabs. They also sync across Mac, iPhone, and iPad, so users can continue their project from anywhere and easily share tabs with other Apple users.
Other improvements and features
SharePlay — Works similarly to the one on iOS where you can have a listening or watch party via Apple Music and Apple TV with people you’re in a FaceTime call with.
Shared with You — Makes it easy to locate and enjoy all the great content that’s shared through Messages, including photos, videos, articles, and more, right from a Shared with You tab within various Apple apps.
Live Text — Uses on-device machine learning to detect text in photos, including phone numbers, websites, addresses, and tracking numbers, so users can copy and paste, make a phone call, open a website, and easily find more information
Privacy — Mail Privacy Protection let users choose whether emails can collect information about their Mail activity, and the Mac recording indicator now shows which app is accessing the Mac’s microphone.
Accessibility — Lets anyone add alternative image descriptions right from Markup, and improved Full Keyboard Access and new cursor customization options provide more flexibility when navigating Mac.
Windows 11 not working properly with AMD chips
A fix is coming
Microsoft recently opened the first wave of Windows 11 updates. The first desktops and laptops are starting to get the major update. However, if you’re next in line for the update while sporting an AMD chipset, you might want to hold off on getting the update for now.
AMD has officially confirmed that its processors are having some issues with Windows 11. Currently compatible processors will experience performance dips especially with some program and games. The company notes “applications sensitive to memory subsystem” and “games commonly used for eSports.” Though the report does not include the names of such games, any eSports-focused games will certainly suffer from a 10-15% dip in performance. Most affected apps, however, will only experience a 3-5% dip.
Both AMD and Microsoft have already acknowledged the bug and are working on a fix. An update will reportedly come out later within the month. Unfortunately, without the update, AMD recommends staying with the most updated version of Windows 10 for now.
The delay shouldn’t be that much of an issue, though. Because the update is still new, only a handful of devices should receive Windows 11 for now. Early adopter FOMO probably won’t set in for the first month.
Windows 11 is finally here
Here’s how to install the new update
Windows 11 is finally here. After months of beta testing and teasing, Microsoft has officially launched the major operating system update today. Of course, as with most updates, it will roll out to eligible devices gradually, not at once. Whether you’re a part of that esteemed first adopter group or still waiting for your turn, here’s how you can check if you can install Windows 11 already.
In your Windows 10 PC, go to Windows Update. Once the window opens, check for new updates. If your PC is eligible for the update, a banner for the update should pop up, prompting you to install the update when you can. The on-screen prompt will help you throughout the update process.
Naturally, before you install the update, double check whether your PC can actually handle the update or not. Also, back up your data before installing, just in case something goes wrong along the way.
Besides a plethora of performance updates, Windows 11 will bring a major UI refresh for the operating system. For one, the Start button and pinned icons will move to the center, rather than its traditional spot on the left corner. The update also introduces a new widget system and ways to organize information.
As always, Microsoft is prioritizing new laptops before rolling the update out to a more widespread audience.
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