04/22/2014 02:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

I'm a Millennial, Not a Hippie: 4 Ways I Go Green With Tech

Like most people, I remember to be eco-friendly when it's brought to my attention, such as on Earth Day, but I'm not going to completely alter my lifestyle to go green. No, I'm not going to walk five miles in the rain to work, and no, I'm not so devoted to the planet that I choose to shower with cold water. Hate me or love me, but I use a cell phone; I use a microwave; I buy plastic water bottles; I eat food with questionable origins; and I eat it with plastic silverware.

From the outside, it's rather embarrassing, considering my generation grew up in one of the most eco-conscious times. I actually remember visiting recycling plants on school trips and for oddly enough, vividly remember watching those cheesy early-90s afterschool movies urging us seven-year-olds to be more environmentally friendly. When we grew up, it was second nature to switch off lights, walk or ride bikes when possible, and recycle cans and bottles (which, by the time college came around, became a much-anticipated event as it paid a good portion of the monthly bills).

But as I have evolved to a city-dwelling 20-something in which half of my meals are eaten out of take-out boxes, and rewarding myself for going to work with $5 cardboard cup coffee every morning has become a stable, my concern about how I'm contributing to the environment has slowly been faded into the background. (This isn't without exceptions to the rules, as I do know some city-dwelling 20-somethings who treat the eco-friendly lifestyle like a cult I should feel guilty for not joining.)

Like any good Gen-Y'er, I have a plethora of excuses. I tell myself once (or if) I ever move into an actual house with a driveway, I'll buy that blue bin and recycle more often. Once I make enough money, I'll eat only organic or farm-raised produce. Once I have an actual kitchen, I'll bring lunch to work instead of eat out of Styrofoam boxes daily. And once I actually stay in an apartment for more than 12 months, I'll of course install a nest thermostat and smart LED lights.

Bottom line is, yes, I do care about the environment, but it's hard to do so when you live in a city, on a budget. As an alternative, I turn to tech to do so for me. Instead, of becoming obsessive, I simply choose to go eco-friendly using technology -- a method that doesn't completely tamper my lifestyle.

4 Ways Millennials Use Tech to Be Eco-Friendly

1. Repurpose Tech, Rather Than Recycle

This is admittedly a little geeky, but there are some ingenious uses for old tech devices I've seen (and copied) over the years. If you search online you can find I-wish-I-thought-of-that ways others have repurposed all types of old tech, from old video game counsels to empty CD holders, and more.


(Bagel Holder, Image Source)

2. Trade-In Tech, Rather Than Trash It

I don't care if half the keys are missing on the keyboard or the screen has water damage; I'm finding some way to get money for my old tech. I wouldn't even think about throwing a laptop or cell phone I the trash, simply because I want a payout for it. Plus, if they're in good condition, I can sell them to newer online electronic buy-back companies, sometimes for hundreds in return.


(, Image Source)

3. Shop Online for Sustainable Clothing Brands

Yes, I have my go-to favorite brands, but, if for no other reason than entertainment, I do make an effort to check out sustainable clothing brands online and opt-in to their newsletters. Sites like Given Goods, Everlane, indigenous, and Zady actually have some unique products I can't find elsewhere and reel in a good amount of "Where'd you get that?!" compliments.


(, Image Source)

4. Replace Standard Parts With Green Gadgets

For some reason, it doesn't seem as tree-hugging if it has a tech angle to it. No, I'm not going to install sensors in my house, but some of the green gadgets out there are nearly identical to non-eco-friendly products except they have some kind of eco-friendly component, such as being powered by sunlight, water, heat or cold.

(Epiphany onE Puck, Image Source)