When Earth Day comes around, many people picture planting trees and picking up trash. But taking action to protect the planet goes beyond the physical realm.
The internet and all its connected devices have a larger impact on the environment we often realize because it is not something that is physically seen. The volume of carbon dioxide emissions created from the internet, computers, phones, and smart devices is comparable to that of the airline industry.
Large data centers host the media we interact with daily, and these centers–often as big as football fields–contain rows upon rows of servers. Most of the energy used to run data centers comes from fossil fuels, which emits carbon dioxide.
They produce carbon dioxide in correlation to device use, and data storage requires the servers to run uninterrupted. They constantly run air conditioning to keep the environment cool to prevent the servers from overheating.
That sounds like a lot of energy!
According to the International Journal of Green Technology, data centers currently use an estimated 651 terawatt hours of electricity. That is nearly equivalent to the amount of electricity Canada produces annually.
These astounding numbers are just the beginning as the data revolution gains traction and more smart technologies continue to be developed and utilized globally.
While these numbers are daunting, there are some steps you can take to help reduce your carbon footprint and the energy required to support your device usage.
Make an impact protecting our planet
1. Remove apps that you have not recently used
Extra apps not only take up space on your devices, but they also slow them down and consume unnecessary energy, even when they are not in use.
2. Declutter your photo gallery
Reduce the amount of storage used on your device and in the cloud by deleting photos and videos that are unneeded, blurry, or duplicate.
3. Move photos, videos, and files to external hard drives
Another way to reduce the amount of data you have stored in data centers is to move photos, videos, and files onto external hard drives and off of the cloud.
4. Unsubscribe from email subscriptions that don’t benefit you
A 1 MB email emits 20 g of CO2, which is equivalent to having a lamp on for 25 minutes. You can minimize CO2 emissions by deleting email threads that are no longer relevant and unsubscribing from newsletters and email marketing that you do not read.
5. Stop sending unnecessary emails
While it is polite to thank people, the Let’s Do It Foundation argues that, “If each British adult would abstain from sending out a ‘thank you’ email, we would conserve more than 16,000 tons of CO2 per year – equal to 81,000 flights from London to Madrid.” Wow!
6. Avoid using search engines when you can
If you know the website’s address that you are trying to reach, it is better to directly type in the address rather than searching for the site. Google alone is responsible for 40% of the internet’s carbon footprint.
There are simple steps you can take to start reducing your carbon footprint and begin practicing greener habits while interacting with everyday technology. If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at these resources below!