Challenge #31 ~ Tech FOR Sustainability

Read the blog post on the September Theme – TECHNOLOGY

Photo by Andre Koolme on Flickr

We need to be mindful about how we use technology sustainably, but technology can also be used to help us be sustainable in lots of ways. Now that Challenges 27-30 help us use technology more sustainably, here are a few examples of using Tech to be more sustainable – in other words, in addition to practicing Green IT, using IT for Green!


Telecommuting is a great way to save on transportation costs and environmental impacts, not to mention time. Many of us are lucky to work in a job that we can do from home with a laptop and an Internet connection. We can ask our employer to let us try telecommuting one day a week. Like many other things we can do to be more environmentally sustainable, working remotely has other benefits, including improving productivity, being beneficial to health, decreasing costs, and reducing employee turnover.


Doing our banking and paying our bills is increasingly possible electronically.  helps by removing the need for transportation to an office, saving energy, and eliminating the need for physical statements and bills, saving paper and energy to transport it. Here in Qatar, electronic transactions have been widely embraced, so many of us are using this capability without even thinking about it. We need to continue to encourage this trend by opting to receive everything we can electronically, even including the sales flyers from our favorite grocery stores.


Now that we’ve opted to receive important documents electronically, we need a place to securely store them. Fortunately there are a number of free and low-cost cloud storage options available. Using free cloud storage to store downloaded copies of electronic bank statements, official documents, and more, not only reduces paper use, but also makes them accessible from anywhere at any time (doing a quick Internet search of ‘free cloud storage’ provides many choices). Just be sure to pick a good password and use 2-factor authentication (if available) to keep those important documents safe.


Another popular way to use technology to reduce resource use is with electronic books. While eReaders, like the Kindle or Nook, are a popular option, downloadable books can also be read on a computer, tablet, or phone, requiring one less device to read them. 2019 has seen a large number of Public Domain books become available, so our options keep increasing. We can even download eBooks from the Qatar National Library at no cost using the Overdrive app.


Finally, there are a number of smartphone apps that can help us be more sustainable. We can use our phones to identify plants, evaluate our driving efficiency, save water, check air quality, and shop smarter. We can even order household recycling with an app here in Qatar!

Of course, all of these solutions require energy, making it critically important that we support and encourage alternative, renewable energy sources. However, because energy costs are a big factor in these companies’ bottom line, they are motivated to cut their power bills, and so have been at the forefront of developing and deploying new energy solutions. Many of the big tech companies have announced strategies to become carbon neutral.

This challenge supports Sustainable Development Goals 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and 13: Climate Action.

You too, can help the environment, one electronic solution at a time.