Shrinking your Digital Carbon Footprint

With every step we take and every tap we make into the digital world, the environment around us is constantly changing at a rapid rate. We must make the conscious effort to sustain it and tailor our digital carbon footprints to one that leaves the right print on our planet.

Why does our digital presence matter?

The internet and the electricity used to power its mass has a huge impact on our planet. Back in 2015 the internet was estimated by the GreenIT.fr to represent 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year, that’s as much as the world’s total civil aviation! (1) To save electricity and the amount of energy being used to power our world wide web, there are steps that can be taken to improve your digital carbon footprint and, play a more ecological role as we go through our daily life.

A digital carbon footprint is a measurement of CO2 emissions caused by data and the use of digital devices (2). By tracking the way we make our digital mark, step by step we can help sustain the planets future.

Step by step..

Avoid overconsumption of video streaming

A video here and a video there and before you know it, you’re streaming constantly and in more than one place! Streaming causes the most collateral damage to your digital carbon footprint because it is one of the biggest consumers of energy regarding our internet usage. When streaming a video there needs to be a transfer of real-time data which is often viewed in high-definition, and this generates high energy consumption. By reducing the use of streaming through watching fewer videos and monitoring your streaming load, you can reduce the internet’s energy consumption.

Be reasonable with online storage

Storing your digital data can be good, but like anything, too much of it and it can cause more damage than good. Just like streaming, online storage such as, ‘The Cloud’ can cause a lot of energy consumption. Did you know that each photo or piece of data that you store online must be permanently preserved on a server that needs to be powered? This means that every time you want to access this data, you have to exchange more data with this server – consuming more energy from your terminal and the network. To reduce the amount of energy being used, don’t store all your data online/in The Cloud. Facilitate local storage to reduce the energy consumption related to your internet use.

Think before you search

The number of times you’ll find yourself searching for answers online, but not be able to find the answer you’re looking for, is very common. But that build-up of data on the system means more energy needs to be used to power it. Simply making a more conscious, thought-out decision about what we’re looking, can minimise the number of searches that we make overall.

Managing your assets further

Managing your online assets can account for a couple of things; managing your emails and deactivating old accounts you have that you no longer need. With emails, it’s the writing phase and the mail transport phase that have the most impact on the environment, rather than deleting them. To reduce the amount of energy used in these phases some steps you can take include:

  • Writing emails in text format rather than HTML and not printing them
  • Taking care in sending fewer emails
  • Avoiding attachments and email signatures

As for old accounts, the pile of accounts that you no longer use/ need can only get bigger over time, which slows down the use of the internet and requires more energy to power it. By deactivating old accounts, it will help keep your digital footprint cleaner, whilst benefiting the environment.

Keeping your digital devices for longer

Digital devices are consumed in vast amounts so that we can be connected to the internet and the online world. Through buying these devices we also discard them at a rapid rate which, without a doubt, isn’t the greenest gesture for our environment. By limiting our consumption of these devices and maximising the life of them, we can keep them for longer and reduce the weight they put on the online and real world.

 

Taking these steps won’t make the damage made to our planet heal overnight, but that’s more so the reason we must take an avid step to incorporate them into our everyday lives, so that we can sustain our unique planet.

 

(1) https://youmatter.world/en/reduce-environmental-impact-internet/

(2) https://www.myclimate.org/information/faq/faq-detail/what-is-a-digital-carbon-footprint/

Priya Patel

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