Alexandre Laval, of ecommerce research company Cleanfox, recommends quick ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint.
Did you know?
- If the Internet were a country, it would be the 6th biggest polluter in the world.1
- One email generates about 10g of CO2 per year, consuming as much energy as a 7W bulb lit for 3 hours.2
- Each year, the unread emails of British internet users emit an average of 2 million tonnes of CO2, as much as 1.3 million cars.3
Digital pollution is a tricky one. We can’t see it, and therefore most people wouldn’t know about it. Someone points at a plastic bag floating through the street – yes, that’s quite clearly polluting. Someone points at your overflowing email inbox – that doesn’t pollute! But in fact, it does.
Although the world energy mix is getting better, it is still primarily reliant on fossil fuels. And data centers account for about 45% of the Information and communication technology (ICT) sector’s carbon footprint.
To put it in perspective, the Internet’s carbon footprint is four times bigger than that of the UK (GreenIT) and it’s growing about 9% every year (The Shift Project) – that’s quicker than any other industry in the world.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! A number of tools can help reduce our digital carbon footprint on an individual and commercial scale:
FileVert: An eco-friendly file sharing service! We’ve all heard of WeTransfer and Dropbox; FileVert takes that same service and turns it green by offsetting their footprint with the Good Planet Foundation. Super handy for those quick file transfers.
Ecosia: You’ve likely heard of it – it’s the most popular eco-friendly search engine out there. For every search you make, Ecosia plants a tree. Who doesn’t love trees? The planet certainly does!
Cleanfox: It’s estimated that storing one email holds the carbon footprint equivalent to a single plastic bag – that’s shocking if you think about the thousands of unread emails sitting in your inbox! This free tool helps identify the spam and newsletter emails in your inbox. It then gives you a nifty swiping system or bulk unsubscribe option to clean it out once and for all.
Besides these apps, there are many other options out there. There are even simple actions you can make without moving a finger. There’s no need to send that email that has just a simple “Thanks,” or “See you later.” Have a VPN active in the background while you’re surfing the internet – that means websites won’t track your actions, so there won’t be all that added energy targeting your computer with specific ads and information. Or even delete the online accounts you never use!
It’s difficult to limit the growing use of the Internet, but it is possible to limit its impact through simple actions. Digital technology is a great springboard for raising awareness amongst Internet users, there’s no denying that.
2 Cleanfox, eGrid
3 Cleanfox, Odysee-Mure, European Environment Agency