Have you heard about Digital Pollution? What can Consumers and Companies do to Reduce their Impact?
What is digital pollution?
It’s amazing how the world wide web and “the cloud” have transformed our lives. Using technology daily allowed us to be near to our friends and family, work more efficiently due to the proximity to our teams and the possibility of sharing information with our colleagues, easily access our favorite music and the latest movies and series on demand.
Basically, allowed to have the modern lifestyle we consider indispensable today. But everything comes at a cost: it takes a lot of energy to feed our digital world.
There’s a carbon footprint inherent to all our digital activity, and that is Digital Pollution, which includes the energy consumption of data centers or the transmission networks, but also the production of the devices that we are so familiarized with and use daily, for several hours. Each of the hundreds of actions that we carry out daily on the Internet, spontaneously and almost without being aware of it, has a specific carbon footprint.
As the digital pollution impacts grow, there’s been a huge pressure on leading internet companies to end dependence on fossil fuels like coal and drive the uncontrollable growth of our digital lives with renewable energy but we, as digital consumers, also have a path to walk towards digital sustainability.
What can we do to reduce our digital carbon footprint?
As users, we can ensure that we are aware of the environmental impact and the level of responsibility and transparency of the companies from which we purchase our equipment, besides:
1. Buying terminals with the correct power for their intended use
2. Grow some good habits such as always turning off the equipment when it is not being used, set your computer and smartphone to energy-saving mode, unplug sockets when they are not in use, put your phone on aeroplane mode at night, choose your smartphone and tablet over your computer, which consumes more energy.
But as consumers, aren’t we all some kind of content producers? If so, there’s some other responsibilities we must face and act on.
As content creators, one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint is:
1. Ensuring that we get our electricity from sustainable energy sources.
2. Optimize the energy consumption of a website through good design and optimized programming. A website with clean code and a balanced design will not only load faster than a website full of banners, pop-ups, unsized photos and external programs, but will also require less energy consumption.
Digital pollution is a growing problem largely related to electricity consumption by the information technology sector, which accounts for approximately 7% of world consumption.
That is why there is an urgent need for the transition of this sector to clean energy and in 3 major areas:
1. The manufacture of the equipment we use to access the internet, such as computers;
2. Data centers, which store and host web pages;
3. Access networks, cabling, and antennas that carry the data.
Bearing all this in mind, we can’t forget that digital transformation is crucial for a more sustainable economy and society. Digitalization can contribute to the planet’s decarbonizing, but as the digital platforms are not completely inoffensive, we still have a role to play as consumers, as sustainability leaders, as contributors for a more sustainable and balanced world.
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