My original plan for the sustainability challenge was to reduce my meat consumption. However, over the last week I realized that I wouldn’t really be changing much or having much of an impact with that as my goal. I already don’t consume a lot of meat and I always buy organic, local meat. I did notice that I tend to leave my chargers plugged in consistently. Therefore, I decided I am going to amend my original goal and instead of consuming less meat, I will be unplugging my chargers.
A study conducted by Heikkinen et al., showed that the actual recharging of phone batteries only consumes 40% of the total energy used by plugging in a charger. The main consumption comes from chargers that are unnecessarily plugged in- either phones that are fully charged and left on the charger anyways or because they just don’t get unplugged when the person is done using it. Leaving in unused chargers consumes 55% of total energy. An interesting point I noticed was that iphone users are more likely to leave their phones “idle.” This means that their phones are left plugged in after the battery has already been fully recharged (Heikkinen, 2012). As an avid iphone user I definitely contribute to that statistic.
Over the past week, I noticed that I tend to leave my chargers in because I am usually in a rush to go somewhere. I will unplug my phone or computer and run out the door. The same went for my curling iron. Once I noticed this, I started thinking more about it and trying to remember to unplug before I left. It was hard though. I tend to wake up as late as I possibly can to get to class and because unplugging is not habit yet, I found myself consistently forgetting. I would remember part way through the day and it would bug me until I could get back to my room and make sure everything was off.
One suggestion someone made to me was to use a power strip so all I have to do is flip a switch. I already have a power strip with my desk lamp connected, but I hardly ever flip it to off unless I’m leaving for a break. I never thought about how much energy is being used by even just having my lamp constantly plugged in. Furthermore, I have an extension chord that I use to charge my phone when I go to bed so I can use it as my alarm. Thinking about it, even just having the extension chord plugged in, I am using unnecessary energy. However, I think unplugging the extension chord will be a hard habit to form because the plug is under my bed and slightly difficult to get to. I can tell this is going to be a lot harder than I originally thought.
Heikkinen, M., Nurminen, J. Measuring and modeling mobile phone charger energy consumption and environmental impact. IIEE Wireless Networking Conference, 2012. P. 3194-3198.