5 ways to reduce your digital footprint...
Did you know your digital footprint contributes to your carbon footprint? Early this year we discovered some shocking statistics about the environmental impact of our digital lives and, honestly, we had no idea of the damage! Judging by the responses, lots of you were as amazed as us, so we thought we'd delve a little deeper to find out the extent of the problem and try to find some ideas to reduce our impact...
According to We are Social, over 4.5 million people use the internet and over 3.8 billion now have social media accounts - that's roughly half the global population!
We found this chart from Statista, which shows the amount of data created on the internet, on average, every minute in 2020.
Crazy, right? The problem is that every email we send or message we exchange and every minute we spend watching internet based streaming services requires energy, which in turn contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Digital Cleanup Day:
The carbon footprint of the internet and the systems supporting it account to about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, which is similar to the amount produced globally by the airline industry. Some studies estimate that in a decade the internet network will produce 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.
So, to avoid being all doom and gloom, what can we do to help? Here are a few tips:
1. Clean out your inbox
The more messages you store, the more energy you use. Set some time aside to delete all those messages that have been sitting there for years and then make an effort to delete as you go. Unsubscribe from newsletters you don't read, and turn off email notifications from social media sites if you don't need them.
2. Delete apps you don't use
It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but we've all downloaded apps that turned out to be less useful or interesting than we'd hoped. Deleting them will free up storage space on your phone, requiring less energy for it to run. It might even improve battery life!
3. Keep emails brief, and to a minimum
Research commissioned in 2019 by OVO Energy found that over 64 million unnecessary emails are sent every day. This is mostly made up of 'thank you' emails. In fact, they said that:
Each UK adult sending one less ‘thank you’ email a day, would save over 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year - the same as 81,1522 flights to Madrid or taking 3,3343 diesel cars off the road.
It might not seem very polite (always a struggle for us Brits!), but they also found that 71% of people in the UK wouldn’t mind not receiving a ‘thank you’ email if they knew it was for the benefit of the environment.
4. Reduce your screen time
It seems obvious, I know, but too much time spent staring at your phone or the TV is not just bad for the environment, it's bad for YOU! There's so much to be gained from the internet (this blog post, for one!) but, as with everything, moderation is key. Set limits on the amount of time you spend on social media and be choosey about your streaming selections instead of blindly watching whatever's "recommended". Switch devices off if you're not using them instead of keeping them on in the background. Not only will it reduce your emissions, it'll help improve your mental and physical health, too.
5. Use an eco-friendly search engine
Ecosia is a search engine that uses the profits from search ads to plant trees around the world! You can add Ecosia to Safari (for free) or use their mobile app. If you're a business owner, you can choose to advertise via Ecosia too, click here for more info.
They've so far planted over 120 million trees and you can watch the counter go up on their website. You can also donate directly to their tree-planting efforts via their "gift a tree" shop.
You can find out more about how to have a "digital clean up" via the National Spring Clean website, which is where our journey started, too.