Here's a list of activities that you perform in your day-to-day life. Tap to learn more about their impact along with their reduction tips.
Video calls & streaming
In early 2000s, experts claimed that emails were “dead” because of advent of social media channels. However according to statista, in 2020, 280 billion emails were sent and recieved every day.
Although the carbon footprint of email is seem low for an individual, but when seen as a whole sums up to be a massive amount. The footprint of an email varies dramatically, from 0.3g CO2e for a spam email to 4g (0.14oz) CO2e for a regular email and 50g (1.7oz) CO2e for one with a photo or hefty attachment.
Streaming video and audio are the biggest drivers of explosive data growth, making up 63% of global internet traffic. Streaming services like Netflix and Youtube have become a way of life for individuals, while there are still few things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint.
Video calls are indeed carbon intensive mode of communication. But still is far better for the environment as it replaces the emissions required during travel to reach meetings.
Global emissions from cloud computing range from 2.5% to 3.7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, thereby exceeding emissions from commercial flights.
While many companies claim to power their data centres using renewable energy, in some parts of the world they are still largely powered from the burning of fossil fuels.
We shouldn't be treating cloud as a limitless storage space where we could dump all our files. Instead, we should define a clear structure of our filing system and educate all our team members to follow it. Not only will it be easier for everyone to find what they need, it will also help reduce our carbon emissions.
The applications that you don't use anymore, still consume memory, power and bandwidth. Deleting them can allow your smartphone or your tablet to gain performance. It is advised to keep at least 1Gb of free space to ensure the proper functioning of your system.
Moreover, instant messaging applications, such as Messenger or Whatsapp, have become inescapable on our smartphone. They also take up space, even more if the messages contain attachments. Yet, it is not necessary to keep all the conversation history, spams, ads, etc.
From the games themselves to the way they're manufactured, shipped, and sold, they all contribute to a large carbon footprint. Even digital games can contribute to climate change. Most games are played online and require a lot of data usage, contributing to “internet pollution”, which accounts for almost 3.7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
To support these games, heavy specification devices are required which further contribute to internet pollution.
Anything stored on your computer consumes memory and power, hence producing CO2. The files can slow it down, especially if these files are stored on your desktop. Sorting, tidying and deleting will free up space on your computer and therefore also improve its performance.
The more space you conserve on your computer, the less it will slow down and the more you will be able to make the software and operating system updates required for it to function properly. Because the manufacturing footprint of hardware accounts for 78% of the carbon footprint, it is fundamental to find mechanisms to care for.
Internet searching is another tricky area. The average website produces 1.76g of CO2 per page view. According to Google's own figures, however, an average user of its services - someone who performs 25 searches each day, watches 60 minutes of YouTube, has a Gmail account and accesses some of its other services - produces less than 8g (0.28oz) CO2e a day.
Though it could be argued that online shopping is better for environment, it all comes down to our shopping habits that makes it unsustainable.
As new technologies improve the transport of goods and make it as fast as it had ever been before, more and more consumers request same-day and instant deliveries. A study from MIT found that traditional shopping has two times the carbon footprint if compared to online shopping. This, however, is valid only if one does not take the rushed online shopping into account. Indeed, when consumers opt for a fast delivery, the emissions far exceed those generated from in-person shopping.
A major reason for this is that delivery companies cannot afford to wait for all products to arrive before shipping them out. When dealing with a one- or two-day shipping window, they are often forced to send out trucks that are filled at half their capacity, generating more traffic and thus emissions.
But shipping is not the only issue. As more and more online retailers, big and small, offer the option to send back goods easily and often for free, return rates, especially of fashion items, have skyrocketed, exceeding 28% of all purchased goods. In Germany alone, every third online order is returned.
While it might seem far-fetched that every 'like', 'comment', and 'post' contributes to internet pollution, it comes down to a very simple reason: internet usage requires electricity, and electricity is still largely powered by the burning of fossil fuels, hence the considerable amounts of CO2 emissions.