Earth Day Turns 40 as Technology Gets Greener

As countries across the globe celebrate Earth Day, now celebrating its 40th year, studies show major corporations, as well as cost-conscious businesses, are making an effort to employ more environmentally sensitive technologies.

In the 40 years since Earth Day was first established, fears over climate change, global warming and the harmful effect human beings were having on the planet has grown. However, so has recognition that treating the planet with respect and consideration is a worthwhile cause: Working with 20,000 partner organizations in 190 countries, Earth Day Network has launched a global campaign to catalyze and connect millions of people and thousands of Earth Day activities.
The weekend of April 24, in major cities around the world, hundreds of thousands of citizens are expected to celebrate Earth Day's 40th anniversary. The National Mall in Washington, D.C., is home to the annual flagship event. Rabat, Morocco, and several other cities will host official events featuring musical talent, speakers and eco-villages where attendees can learn how to adopt green practices in their daily lives.
Not only has the world at large become more aware of these issues, but businesses ranging from Mom-and-Pop shops to major corporations such as AT&T, Xerox, Microsoft and others. More important than just recognizing a single day of support, many industries, such as the printing and imaging market led by HP, Ricoh and Canon are highlighting a focus on energy-saving features and components.
While the importance of "thinking green" has been viewed as a cynical marketing strategy, constantly rising energy prices lends credence to the notion that these features can save cost-conscious businesses real money. Epson's Stylus C110 business inkjet printer, for example, consumes 60 percent less energy than its predecessor Epson Stylus 87. Most printers now come with efficient sleep or standby modes, also offering reduced energy consumption.
And while the global recession has left many companies feeling the budgetary pinch, a 2009 Gartner survey found most organizations would maintain the priority of green IT projects. Gartner also asked organizations that had a specific capital expenditure budget for green IT (22 percent of respondents), what proportion of total IT capital expenditure this represented. Overall, more than one-third of respondents (46 percent in Europe, 38 percent in Asia/Pacific and 36 percent in the United States) anticipated spending more than 15 percent of their IT capital budgets on green IT projects.
The research and analysis firm also singled out green IT as one of the top tech trends to watch in 2010: Gartner cited common green initiatives including the use of e-documents, reducing travel through virtual communications and conference technologies as well as teleworking. "IT can also provide the analytic tools that others in the enterprise may use to reduce energy consumption in the transportation of goods or other carbon management activities," the report noted.
For example, package delivery company UPS recently announced a "green" pickup option called Smart Pickup, aimed at small to medium-size businesses (SMBs). Part of the company's Decision Green initiative, Smart Pickup automates the process of having drivers stop at customer locations to pick up packages. The service uses UPS technology to ensure that a UPS driver stops at a customer location to pick up a package only when a package is being shipped.