What have you done on the internet so far today?
- Checked emails?
- Read some news?
- Messaged a group chat?
- Downloaded an app?
- Played games?
- Streamed a video?
- Listened to music?
When you think about it, it’s incredible how much time we all spend on the internet every day. But do you ever stop to think about the impact your internet usage has on the environment?
How does internet usage impact climate change?
Climate change is arguably the biggest challenge facing the planet right now. Governments, organisations, and individuals are making efforts to combat it. And it’s easy to think that reducing consumption and finding sustainable energy sources are all we can do.
But every moment you spend online causes a few more grams of carbon to be released into the atmosphere as a result of the energy required to power it. Now, the actual amount of carbon per internet search or download is obviously tiny. But with over half the population of the world going online several times a day, it all adds up.
In fact, according to some estimates, the internet and associated systems are responsible for 3.7% of greenhouse emissions globally. That’s about the same amount as the airline industry!
This realisation has prompted some users to try to limit their internet activity in an effort to reduce their data footprint and environmental impact.
But with varying degrees of energy efficiency across the globe, geography affects an individual’s output. And many companies now use renewable energy or have processes in place to off-set their carbon emissions.
How to reduce your internet usage to help combat climate change
One thing you can do is upgrade your equipment. Modern devices and hardware are more energy efficient – although the energy used to manufacture and transport them can outweigh the benefits in some cases.
The way you use the device can also affect your impact on the environment. The footprint of an email can be anywhere between 0.3g CO2e for a spam email to 4g (0.14oz) CO2e for a regular email and 50g (1.7oz) CO2e for one with an image or large attachment.
Based on these figures, the average business user probably produces email emissions every year equivalent to driving 200 miles in a family car. One simple way to reduce email emissions is to make full use of every message. Ask all questions that need to be asked, provide full answers, anticipate obvious queries, and address them in your first email – and avoid unnecessary niceties like replying with a smiley face.
Another simple tip is to replace attachments with links to articles or documents.
Move to more sustainable solutions like cloud-based collaboration tools
Or why not try to cut out emails as much as possible with a cloud-based software solution like Retable?
Retable is the ideal platform for collaboration and data sharing. You can download it for free and grant access to each page or document as required. All users then receive real-time updates and can add, edit or comment directly into the document. Think of it as emailing spreadsheets between team members but without all the confusion, missed messages, human error, and carbon emissions. Find out more and sign up to Retable for free here.