How To Minimize Your Digital Eco-Footprint

Ever wondered how you can reduce your digital carbon footprint? Here's how!
August 22, 2022
4 minutes

Despite a company’s best efforts to create a more sustainable work environment in the office to not only lower the costs but also motivate employees to live a more earth-friendly lifestyle in the era of eco-awakening, there is still one thing that may be preventing you from staying true to your sustainability pledge: your digital carbon footprint.

In reality, digital technology uses 7% of global electricity and contributes more than 2% of global emissions. This is almost as high as the number of fuels burned by the aviation industry. What’s even more surprising? Every single Google search release between 2 to 7 grams of CO2 emissions! Now, if we consider that Google processes 3.5 billion searches a day, it accounts for about 40% of the internet’s carbon footprint.

As it turns out, our online presence is severely impacting the environment in ways we never think of. That’s exactly why reducing the environmental impact of our technology is so important. Below are some easy ways to minimize your digital carbon footprint starting today!

6 Ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint

1- Turn off your devices

It’s no secret that all devices continue to use energy even in “sleep more”, so make sure to turn off your electronics if you aren’t planning on using them.

2- Clean your inbox regularly

For most people, emails, promo messages, and documents seem pretty harmless. However, every little bit of information is still stored in data centers, which consume massive amounts of energy to not only power but also keep cool. So, make sure to delete your emails when they are no longer relevant or useful and unsubscribe from newsletters that do not interest you.

3- Minimize your emails’ carbon footprint

An average email with attachment of 2.5MB emits 50g of CO2. With the addition of images such as large-scale files and signature photos, this number multiplies by a lot. However, there is a simple way to get on top of the issue. Carbon Capper, the first Chrome extension, gives you a ‘planet-friendly prompt’ every time you are ready to hit “send". Also, it tracks your word count, flags emails under four words, and allows you to minimize your digital carbon footprint easily. The carbonalyser browser extension is another great way to really understand your digital impact.

Additionally, there are plenty of Gmail host alternatives like Kolab, Posteo, Tutanota, and Runbox that rely on renewable energy to power their servers.

4- Use eco-friendly alternative search engines

As we mentioned earlier, Google consumes a great amount of energy while releasing tons of CO2 emissions. So, if you want to reduce your digital carbon footprint, opt for Ecosia, which donates 80% of its profits to plant trees, or Ekoru which donates 60% of revenue to reforestation, climate action, and conservation projects. These eco engines use renewable energy entirely and absorb our CO2 emissions. Plus, you can bookmark your favorite sites to avoid having to use search queries to access them.

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5- Lower your brightness

According to Harvard Law School’s energy manager, if you switch your monitor’s brightness from 100% to 70%, you can save up to 20% energy and help your eyes in the process.

6- “This could have been an email” - or an in-person meeting

Yes, emails release carbon dioxide, however, streaming or videoconferencing has an even bigger impact. For every hour, up to 1,000 grams of carbon dioxide get released and 2-12 liters of water are used to power up your video interactions. It would be best to either communicate via long-form emails or, better yet, in person to minimize your digital carbon footprint efficiently.

These simple yet effective ways to decrease your carbon footprint can be applied both on a personal and a company level. Remember, greener offices often mean healthier, more productive employees - and that includes both office spaces and online presence.