It’s easy to believe that changing our energy source is the only way to solve all of our problems. We continue to have discussions about how to reduce our global carbon emissions. Which is by moving away from fossil fuels like coal and towards greener, renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
That is an important part, but it also raises the question of what we can do to reduce our energy consumption. While the majority of our energy still comes from coal. And how might we change our habits to require less energy overall?
The energy surrounding our online presence is one area of possibility that is sometimes disregarded. It is simple to forget that every action we take—clicking on a link, asking a question, streaming a file, sending an email, or saving a photo—requires the transmission of messages to servers. Including storage of those communications in data centers and, of course, the operation of machines. That consumes enormous amounts of carbon energy in order to operate as smoothly as possible.
12 Ways To Reduce Your Technology Carbon Footprint
We apologize for being such a downer, but there is a bright side to realizing that our actions matter. Our work has consequences! These 12 ways will help you reduce your digital carbon footprint RIGHT NOW!
- When you know you won’t be using your electronics for two hours or longer, turn them off. This is advised by the U.S. Department of Energy since electronics consume energy even when they are in sleep mode.
- Regularly clear up your inbox. Emails that you won’t need again should be deleted or archived. Including most of your correspondence as well as calendar invites, receipts, promotional messages, shared documents, and anything else you can access online. Data centers, which require a lot of energy to power and maintain cool, are where all of those emails that are sitting in your inbox are kept.
- Avoid leaving your electronics plugged in for longer than is necessary for charging. (That’s your chargers for the night!) Your phone won’t overcharge. But if you leave it charged to 100% all the time, your charger will start up again. And continuing to charge your phone to 100% can eventually wear out the battery (Source: Time). Furthermore, it keeps using energy needlessly. Charge your phone before going to bed. Leave it in Aeroplane Mode or Do Not Disturb overnight, and then plug it back in while you’re getting ready in the morning if you like to wake up to a fully charged phone.
- Disable AutoPlay. Netflix and YouTube account for half of all Internet traffic in North America during peak hours, making video streaming one of the main drivers of data growth and energy use (Source: Climate Care). Reduce the amount of energy you waste by not playing videos that you aren’t really watching.
- When at all possible, try not to rely on navigation. As everyone knows, utilizing navigation to travel from point A to point B consumes data. Although it’s really useful for getting instructions to a new location, a lot of us also rely heavily on it for locations we’ve been to previously. Not only is pushing yourself to recall directions an excellent method to save energy, but it also benefits the health of your brain! According to a neuroscience study conducted at McGill University, those who do not use GPS have more grey matter in their brains and more functional hippocampi than people who do.
- Unsubscribe from any newsletters that you don’t want to receive or read. An email with a lengthy attachment can consume up to 50 grams of CO2. Which is a lot of energy for something you probably won’t read (Source: Climate Care). The average email consumes 4 grams of CO2.
- Only respond when absolutely required. You can use the same idea while communicating through messages. Think about if the material is truly necessary for every recipient before sending it to them all.
- Save bookmarks for websites you visit often so you don’t have to constantly use your search engine to find them. You waste more energy each time you search Twitter rather than visiting Twitter.com directly. “Using search instead of just visiting the website transmits data from your browser to the search engine servers for processing before returning a list of search results to your browser,” states Mozilla.
- Make the switch to the cloud and pick a service that relies on renewable energy sources. One of the best ways to save energy is to save your important information on the cloud. Especially if your company needs a lot of storage. Select a cloud services provider such as Apple, Google, Box, Rack space, Facebook, or Salesforce, all of whom have made a commitment to using only renewable energy sources to power their data centers (Source: Climate Care).
- Regularly clean out your photo albums, documents, email, and other data. Emails that you won’t need again should be deleted or archived. Including most of your correspondence as well as calendar invites, receipts, promotional messages, shared documents, and anything else you can access online.
- When listening to audio on the mobile, download files rather than stream them or turn on the radio or CD player. The emergence of music streaming has significantly reduced the quantity of plastic utilized in the production of physical albums. It has also led to a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emissions linked to streaming. Reduce your production by downloading whenever possible or going analog by visiting your neighborhood record store to buy second-hand CDs or vinyl.
- If you stream videos or spend a lot of time on screens, think about imposing boundaries. In case it wasn’t evident, virtually every action we do with our gadgets consumes energy. Which frequently contributes to carbon emissions. Even while we are aware that it is not practical to completely avoid it, many of us have significant flexibility in how much we use. Furthermore, we are aware that making this decision most likely benefits our bodies as well.