Balancing Technology and the Environment

For all the opportunities that technology presents for improved collaboration, efficiency and communication, there are also environmental downsides to consider: the churn of ever-evolving gadgets and devices that more often than not end up in landfills, the energy required to produce, run and charge them, and the materials required to make them.

For foundations and nonprofits that embrace environmental sustainability as part of their missions or organizational values, balancing technology needs and their impact on the environmental can be a challenge. Not only due to cost considerations, but also because the whole idea of green technology seems to be relatively new. To date, not many resources have been available to help nonprofits learn about and evaluate their options for deploying technology in a more environmentally responsible fashion.

All that is starting to change. Last month, in conjunction with Earth Day, TechSoup announced a new GreenTech Initiative to connect nonprofits to green technology information and resources. Check it out at www.techsoup.org/greentech, along with the results of TechSoup’s March 2008 survey assessing the availability of green technology information and services, current knowledge of green practices, and the level of nonprofit interest in green tech and services.

Foundations can also find a lot of great resources and ideas for greening their operations in the Environmental Grantmakers Association’s Green Beyond Grants toolkit. EGA also has a Green Co-Op, through which it negotiates with vendors to provide its members with volume discounts on “green” products ranging from office supplies to gift baskets to rental cars.

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