Ditch your Answering Machine and Switch to Voice Mail

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Although not an idea that jumps right to mind, experts are showing in study after study that by using voice mail, less energy is consumed and results in less hazardous waste than the use of answering machines.

In the same way that power plants are responsible for producing considerably less pollution than if everyone ran their own fossil fuel-based generators (or by using electric cars in place of the commercially common gas-powered ones), centralizing voice mail into large servers requires far less electricity than by everyone using their own dedicated machines.  These machines must be on and active 24hours a day, seven days a week.  Such electronics are responsible for 25% of home energy use, according to Energy Star, the corporation responsible for rating electronics and appliances based on the energy that can be saved by their use, and these electronics directly contribute 2% of the U.S.’s output of overall global warming gases.

The Green Book, an ecological conservation group, reports that should all answering machines currently used in U.S. homes was to be replaced by voice mail, the annual energy savings would be nearly two billion kilowatt-hours.  This is more or less the equivalent of taking 250,000 cars off the road a year.

An added benefit is that voice mail can be stored indefinitely via electronic media like thumb drives and only printed out or transcribed when necessary for legal purposes.  This is also benefit because the paper normally required when a secretary or other person needs to take a message manually can be dispatched by using the electronic media, instead.

Another problem to take into consideration is that when an answering machine breaks, becomes outdated or is no longer needed, it becomes part of the growing problem of so-called e-waste.  Although containing parts like plastics and even trace amounts of precious metals like gold that can be reused, according to EPA sources the vast majority of things classifies as e-waste (including outdated or broken computers, cell phones, fax machines, TVs and so on) is not recycled, and is responsible for 70 percent of the toxic heavy metals, like lead, mercury, and cadmium leaching from landfills into groundwater and contaminating the soil, much like other poorly disposed toxic substances that are currently causing untold problems for American families.  The breakdown of plastic products and flame retardants in various components are also commonly found in e-waste, and will contaminate soil and water, as well.

While it is not yet available in all areas, it is estimated that 95% of Americans will soon be able to drive 20 miles or less to drop off any electronics for recycling.  And fortunately, more and more municipalities are getting on the bandwagon every year.  The e-waste recycling program, managed by the Waste Management Company, is currently offered free of charge for any Sony products, or based on small disposal fees for all other brands.  This program will insure that a significantly higher amount of electronics, both the home and business variety, will go for the manufacture of new equipment, rather than end up in the landfill.

The use of voice mail won’t totally solve the e-waste problem, but using it certainly cuts down on the amount of e-waste generated by Americans and makes it easier to recycle the smaller amount of equipment that is needed when it is centralized.

Related posts:

  1. Stopping Junk Mail
  2. The Green Solutions to Keeping Electronics Out of the Trash
  3. Get a Front-Loading Washing Machine
  4. Don’t hit Print too quickly
  5. Energy Efficiency Tips for Going Green in Your Home Office
  6. Green Living Tips for Living Life

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