HOW TO REDUCE YOUR DIGITAL CARBON FOOTPRINT

Posted on 28 June 2020

If every civil servant in the UK sent only 10 emails a day that would account for 330,000kg of CO2e* released into the atmosphere over a working week. That’s equivalent to driving an average car 465,000 miles!

So, what can you do to make a difference?

1)   Consider hanging on to your devices for a bit longer. In the UK, we’re upgrading our smart phones every two years on average and replacing our computers way before the end of their lives.

"Even before you turn it on, a new iMac has the same footprint as flying from Glasgow to Madrid and back"
Mike Berners Lee

2)   Unsubscribe from junk e-mails. This is a good one because they’re also really annoying and mostly just waste time, so this is a win-win. Ten minutes is all it takes to unsubscribe from 20 accounts, and this could save you receiving ONE THOUSAND e-mails a year! This saves 20kg CO2e.

3)   Consider if the video you’re streaming is really worth it. The carbon footprint of YouTube is equivalent to that of Greater Glasgow2. There's some amazing content out there, but there's also some drivel. Cut the drivel.

4)   Use social media, and all the platforms you can, to shout about climate change. From inspiring individuals to make a difference, to pressurising corporations and governments, there is so much that can be done using the power of the internet.

5) Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, don’t stop using the internet! If you think the figures here are bad, you should see the amount of CO2e printing creates. The average email has a footprint just 1/16th the size of the average letter.

* CO2e stands for Carbon dioxide equivalent. Carbon dioxide is the primary baddie in global warming pollution, but other greenhouse gases are important. For example, methane (CH4) is released in smaller quantities but is 75 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide (N2O) and refrigerants are respectively 300 times and thousands of times more potent. All these gases are taken into account, and expressed as CO2e.

  1.  Berners-Lee, Mike, "How bad are bananas?", Profile Books, 2010, p15
  2.  www.environmentjournal.online/articles/smarter-web-design-could-slash-youtubes-carbon-footprint/
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