When you think about technology, you probably think about how it makes your life easier. However, have you ever considered the possible environmental benefits technology might have? While there hasn’t been a device invented that curbs pollution or reverse the effects of climate change, there has been some innovative thinking in technology, which is helping our conservation efforts. Here are four ways technology is reducing waste.

Water treatment

Water is a necessity for life, even more so than food. That’s why it’s so alarming to hear about lead in water in communities like Flint, Mich. An alarming one in nine people in the world does not have access to safe water. With that in mind, it’s reassuring that new avenues of conserving water and treating wastewater are being explored. These range from eliminating contamination with natural treatment systems to implementing nanotechnology. Water is a seemingly simple and common concept, but it should not be taken for granted.

Civil engineers

Civil engineers are largely responsible for the overall functionality of a city. Ever wonder why a fire hydrant on your street is in front of your house and not your neighbor’s? That’s because a civil engineer determined it belonged there. Civil engineers also need to keep budgeting in mind. Therefore, it’s in their best interest that materials not be wasted. Civil engineers can work with developers in advance of projects to ensure that their proposals are completed with the most regard possible for waste reduction. The best part is that today you can even get an online civil engineering degree, making it a very accessible career path.

Smart fridges

Food waste is a puzzling and unfortunate reality. Why do we buy so much food that we end up throwing out? Some of it can be blamed on poor planning, such as purchasing perishables in large quantities with a short window of time before they go bad. Other parts of it can be pinned on regular fridges not keeping food as well as they could. Smart fridges like the Family Hub use cameras. So you can know what’s in your fridge even if you’re away from it. Adjustments in the fridge’s temperature can mean your food stays good longer than it would otherwise.

Eco-friendly electronic waste

While many electronic gadgets are made of plastics that are seemingly easy to recycle, there are other components which aren’t so often recycled. Case in point: circuit boards. These are recyclable, but the overwhelming majority wind up in landfills and can be toxic. Rather than try to ensure everyone recycles their circuit boards, researchers have designed circuit boards that are somewhat biodegradable. That is, they can be dissolved in water.

Technology like cars and disposable goods might be causing waste, but innovative thinking can also help reduce waste. If you are someone who sees a problem with waste, you probably won’t be able to get all people to stop their bad habits. However, if you use your brain, you might be able to land on a powerful solution.