Have you Ever Stopped to Think About your Digital Carbon Footprint? 21 Tips to Reduce Yours!

I’ve written a lot in the past about recycling e-waste, repairing electronic items so they last longer and how to responsibly dispose of WEEE. But this week I’ve been busy unsubscribing from newsletters I no longer read in a bid to reduce something that is invisible, yet very real – our digital carbon footprint.

Are you aware that you are indirectly responsible for damaging the environment each time you send an email, each time you post a tweet, or each time you decide to watch an episode on Netflix?

It wasn’t until I read this blog post by Viessmann – who supply energy efficient heating systems – that I thought much about it. In their post they share the hashtag #TheCoalTruth to get us all thinking about our surfing habits and it’s certainly had an impact on me. If you prefer to watch something rather than read, this short video sums up their findings:

I’ve brainstormed a list of things we can all do to reduce our digital carbon footprint and I’d love you to help me add to the list:
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters you are no longer engaged with. As a list owner myself, having people on the list costs me money, so I would much rather we parted ways, you’ll get less stuff in your inbox and together we’ll reduce our impact on the planet a bit!
  • Do you store stuff in the cloud? Perhaps you use dropbox or another form of cloud storage. Clear out the clutter on a regular basis, just as you do with physical items.
  • While you’re at it, go through your photos, apps and videos on your smartphone – they are taking up valuable space. If your device works more slowly, it’s taking more power to run it.
  • Find yourself spending hours watching inane videos? Turn off autoplay on YouTube, so you only watch the things you really want to.
  • I only turn Skype or messenger on when I have a call booked. Keeping these messaging services off also gives me more headspace because I’m interrupted less.
  • Were you bought up to turn off the TV when you leave the room? Do the same with Netflix! Many people leave it all streaming, so again, watch what you want to, then turn it off.
  • Turn off the animated screen saver – an old fashioned plain screen will make it easier to find your icons and knock a bit off your digital footprint. And how often do you actually look at your screen saver anyway?
  • Turn off push notifications – these are annoying anyway and disrupt your flow of thoughts, plus they’re contributing to your digital footprint.
  • How many pointless emails do you send? Be honest! I admit to getting really fed up of the ‘Ok thanks!’ emails. They’re not necessary, right?
  • Get rid of any unused email accounts. They’ll most likely be getting spam which is upping your digital footprint.
  • How many selfies or holiday photos do you post on Facebook? Just like a physical photograph album, share the best ones and keep the rest to yourself.
  • Talking of social media, do you have unused accounts? Archive what you want from them and then delete.
  • It’s the same with blogging. There are many people who write a blog for a few weeks then decide to leave it. Delete your content from the ‘net.
  • Which Friends character are you? Can we guess your age from answering these three questions? It’s clickbait, you know it is, it won’t enrich your life and it’s costing you clicks!
  • Turn down the brightness on your screens. It’s probably better for your eyes anyway, and it’s certainly better for the environment.
  • Talking of brightness, hotly debated research is asking whether a dark background on your search engine can reduce your online footprint. Switch to Blackle and let me know what you think. The jury is still out, but even if it serves as a reminder to do other things to reduce that footprint, that’s a good thing – right?
  • Be a savvy surfer. If you visit the same sites regularly, then bookmark them. This saves you having to search for them and reduces a click – every little click counts from now on!
  • And choose your searches wisely. There aren’t some magic fairies waiting to send information to you – every time you do a search, your query is sent to thousands of servers found in huge data centre buildings across the globe. These data centres use masses of electricity to send back your results and the more queries you make, the more electricity used and the more emissions generated.
  • Have you just sent an internal email to a colleague 100 feet away asking them to meet you for lunch? Instead of emailing, go to their desk – your body will love you for it and so will the planet.
  • Switch to a search engine like Ecosia that plants trees every time you browse.
  • There’s a petition for everything these days. So why not use some of your clicks to join GreenPeace in asking Netflix to go green?

What about you – what would you add to the list?


21 ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint

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Rachelle Strauss

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