Green shopping for the holidays: Buying a new computer

While Apple may have a nature-friendly name, it may not be the best purchasing option for consumers looking to provide their friends and loved ones with great gifts that aren't only exactly what they want, but also what the environment needs. However, to determine this conclusively, shoppers will need to conduct research before heading to their local electronics stores this season.

Before purchasing a computer or eco-friendly products to go along with it – such as cases, hard drives and other accessories – consumers who want to make sure their money is well spent can go online to determine the materials that go into each company's computer. HP, Apple and Dell are a few of the companies that post this information. For example, on HP's website, shoppers can find a detailed breakdown of the percentages of each material that make up a given computer.

Apple's website, on the other hand, details how it has elimated or is working to reduce the levels of harmful chemicals such as polyvinyl Chloride, arsenic, mercury and cadmium from its products, and provides information on the minerals and chemicals it still uses. But, to further help the environment, computer shoppers may want to pick up some essential accessories away from the store.

For example, extra power chargers, cables and accessories can often be found from secondhand stores. By buying these items at consignment locations, consumers are helping to increase awareness about how recycling can reduce the mining and other harmful processes that go into making these essential computer tools.

Still, the best gift addition may be for green consumers to package their gift with some tips to reduce the computer's energy use. By reminding the recipient that they need to turn off their PC, turn off power strips and save ink and paper when printing, consumers can satisfy their friends and family while also proudly displaying their commitment to a greater cause.

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