Buying a new gadget can be a real time-suck for environmentalists. A computer, for example, can no longer just be judged by its cool features. Instead, you’ve got to look at the toxicity and cradle-to-cradle potential of the materials used, the carbon footprint of the product-making processes, the labor practices of the manufacturers, the length of the computer’s lifecycle and its inevitable planned obsolescence, and the quality of the end-of-life recycling programs the manufacturers have in place.

All that can be really, really daunting, especially if you’re not that tech savvy to begin with. Luckily, it seems tech geeks must be clamoring for info that makes the green research process a bit easier because every techy publication seems to be coming out with a helpful guide.

>> CNET Green Electronics Guide is now going to be my first go-to spot when shopping for major electronics, simply because the guide’s easy to understand while still very thorough. Instead of simply recommending products, CNET puts together more comprehensive guides that cover not only what to consider when buying a gadget, but also how to use that gadget greenly after you get it.

The Guide to TV power efficiency, for example, first explains how technology and size affect TV efficiency, with a note on Energy Star 3.0 standards. Then, the Guide gives you a megalist of 150 HDTVs, charting their size and power consumption, overall energy ratings, and annual cost — which will force the would-be shopper to consider not just the initial sales price but the lifetime energy costs of the TV. The third part of the guide gives you tips for reducing your TV-related energy use (last tip: Watch less TV). Guides are also available for laptops, desktops, monitors, and cars.

>> The PC GreenTech Approved seal will help you when you’re ready to get more details on specific products. The seal is given to greener products after PC’s rated “their energy efficiency, recyclability, and the certifications they have earned, as well as their benchmark test performance.”

So far, desktops, laptops, HDTVs, LCD monitors, hard drives, optical drives, cell phones, and headsets can get the seal. Find out more about what methodologies PC uses, to see if the jive with your own. Then check out the products in the category you’re interested in to see which approved product best meets your needs.

>>PC Electronics Recycling Superguide. If you need to get rid of your old gadget before getting a new one, this guide will have all the details you need for disposing your ewaste properly — and maybe even making money off your unwanted stuff.

Green tech guides
Need help picking out a new laptop or TV? New green tech guides will help you pick out the greenest gadget that fits your needs.