If you're ready to move beyond the old economy's bailout woes by investing in the green infrastructure, what better jump start than a new green computer? The old one you're using to read this post may have taken as many resources to create as an SUV: 1.8 tons of water, fossil fuels and chemicals, according to Wired. And to run, it could require as much electricity as a fridge, reports Consumer News. You've probably already got a fridge and don't need another big power- and pocket-drainer, and everyone knows that SUVs are, in this gas market, obsolete. Here are some earth-friendly alternatives.

Plenty Magazine Issue 24 featured Dell Computer’s new Studio Hybrid computer, a nifty little desktop made from recyclables with high electricity efficiency. The Hybrid is Dell's smallest desktop, coming in at 81 percent smaller than any of their other products, and it uses 70 percent less electricity than the average desktop PC. Energy Star gives it a thumbs-up and the Hybrid even earned a Gold rating from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). At $649, the Hybrid is easy on both the planet and your wallet.

Mac users are not left out. Apple recently released the MacBook Air, the "world's thinnest notebook." It uses the least amount of energy of the whole Mac family, and also earned an Energy Star nod and an EPEAT rating of Silver. Apple boasts that the MacBook air is free of commonly-used toxins such as arsenic, mercury, brominated flame retardants, and PCV plastic, and comes in an easily-recycled aluminum casing. But be aware, the MacBook Air doesn't meet EPEAT's criterion for usage of postconsumer recycled plastic or renewable/bio-based plastic material, and at $1799, it's not exactly a bargain.

However, Apple's pledge to eliminate brominated flame retardants, a family of chemicals known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) linked to reproductive and neurological problems, still puts them at the top of our list. The Environmental Working Group has a list of PDBE-free computers with links to manufacturers' websites. EPEAT also has strict standards for the presence of flame retardants in their certified products. Check out these sites and Energy Star for full, detailed lists of eco-happy computers.

And don't forget to responsible recycle your old one!

Story by Rachel Brown. This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.

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