At the start of the year, many people made resolutions in an effort to better themselves; kicking bad habits or improved dieting are common resolutions, with a greater focus on one’s career and working harder also coming up at the top of the list. The latter two often require an increased amount of time spent glued to the screen in order to achieve…
… but perhaps we should add the amount of gadgets which dominate our lives as one of the things we try to kick over the course of this year?
There’s no mistaking that modern technology can greatly enhance our day-to-day lives, but it’s easy to throw moderation out the window and let it become a detriment. As such, let’s take a look at some ways to reduce your time spent at a screen in a way that not only makes life a little more fun but also helps out the environment at the same time.
Bring Out the Board
The functionality and processing power of smart phones and tablets is incredible these days, especially given that video games which once required high-powered desktop computers to run are now being seamlessly ported over to handheld devices. A side-effect of this is that we’re not only locked into our own little bubble when concentrating on work, but we’re also in virtual isolation when we’re in recreation mode, staring into a small device while playing a game on the sofa.
This can give rise to whole evenings in which couples barely exchange a word, and parents with teenagers will testify that it’s more difficult to get conversation out of a kid locked into a game of Candy Crush than it is to get blood out of a stone.
So here’s a radical suggestion: play board games. Regularly.
If the idea of digging the old Monopoly board out of the attic fills you with tedium, know that there are hundreds of contemporary and refreshingly different board games being released with regularity, thanks to an upsurge of interest (in itself probably due to a new wave of people yearning for some good nostalgic fun).
And they are fun – if your kids have any misgivings over entertainment that doesn’t require batteries, they’re guaranteed to forget these within minutes of starting a well-chosen game.
Nothing brings a family together like a good board game, and you can also enjoy the added benefit of peace of mind – those few hours that you were immersed in quality time? They were a few hours during which you didn’t have the TV and a zillion other devices in your household sucking up power, saving you money and also benefitting the environment.
Cut Down on WiFi
When you’re out and about, a wireless signal can feel like a godsend. But when you’re at home and sitting within a stone’s throw of your laptop, consider plugging in.
This is more to do with protecting your own well-being than that of the planet, since it’s becoming increasingly clear that EMFs (electromagnetic radiation fields) created by WiFi routers and the wireless devices which use them can pose an unseen danger to your health. The side effects of exposure include migraines, nausea, exhaustion and a whole host of (even nastier) symptoms, all of which are being increasingly reported since the advent of portable WiFi devices.
As well as trying to reduce the amount of time you spend with a gadget (and therefore in harm’s way), make sure you connect to your Internet source directly to help mitigate some of the danger. And if you really can’t go without receiving your connection thought the ether, get yourself an EMF blocking device in order to substantially reduce this threat (or at least a smart reader to ascertain the scale of the risk in your home.)
Electronic Vs. Traditional Media
Just as board games are returning to popularity, other traditional media are also seeing a resurgence; in the digital music age, a lot of analysts were surprised to see a big increase in vinyl sales over the last few years, a medium thought to have long been in its death throes.
Again, this is probably down to a wide-scale pining for ‘the way things were’. Hardly surprising given that we humans are an incredibly tactile species. And it’s not just a tiny, vocal handful of traditionalists at work here – Amazon has deemed vinyl records commercially viable enough to open a dedicated section on the site, Etsy store owners make a killing off hand-crafted items, and even old-fashioned typewriters are springing up in odd places.
It’s arguable that digitalization is better for the environment, that if everyone switched form their eReader back to books we’d see an increase in deforestation (for instance.) but this can be easily countered by shopping for products that already exist, thus removing the need to manufacture resource-heavy gadgets in the first place.
In short, consider a trip to the thrift store to pick up some pre-loved, wonderfully tactile books and music. You’ll save some money in the long run, too.
Trade Commuting Hours For Screen Hours
A bad commute can set your entire day back; half an hour lost to traffic often results in spending more than that just trying to catch up, and a longer working day can have a considerable impact on your mental and physical well-being.
It’s not possible for everyone, but if you’re frequently spending more hours in the car as a result of traffic congestion try to negotiate shifting your hours either backwards or forwards by an hour to miss the rush hour on both ends of the day. Not only will the reduction in pressure mean that you can work more effectively and spend less time in the places you’d rather not be, but the planet will also thank you for the reduced carbon footprint of burning gas in traffic or burning the midnight oil at a fully-powered office.
Over to You…
Got any tips to help cut down on screen time without sacrificing quality of life, or ideas on how to turn our digital lifestyles more eco-friendly? Let your voice be heard in the comments below!