How to Leverage Technology to Lower Your Carbon Footprint

How would you describe your typical day? Do you start by listening to a podcast or some tunes while cooking breakfast, then send a few emails to your colleagues or chat with your friends on social media? Then to wind down in the evening, do you play a video game to help switch off from work or watch some box sets on a big screen TV?

These are simple things that many of us do almost every day as we live in an increasingly digital world. We clearly can’t imagine our lives without gadgets. Even though technology has made our lives easier in numerous ways, we can’t ignore the fact that our digital carbon footprint is taking its toll on our planet.

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How does a digital carbon footprint work?

As of January 2022, around 4.95 billion people are using the internet. We surf the web and check the news on our phones every day. But how much energy is needed to run these gadgets? The energy consumption of electronic devices has soared recently.

It is safe to say that measuring the carbon footprint of digital products such as mobile apps and websites is far from easy. People might find it hard to understand the complexities of the internet. So how does it work?

As we use our computers or smartphones while browsing the internet, our gadgets send requests to globally-distributed servers responsible for building and transmitting the components of a web page or app. The servers require energy 24/7 so that people worldwide may access them at any moment in time.

Then, when a user interacts with a web page or app and sends a request, those requests are sent through our WiFi modem, ethernet connection, or the mobile network via our internet provider to the servers housed in data centres spread across the globe.

In addition to all the physical hardware required to serve and send these requests, our own devices require energy to run and access these networks. All of these activities that we do online contribute to a higher carbon footprint.

A large carbon footprint is a consequence of high energy consumption. It is estimated that the carbon footprint of our devices accounts for 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. Regular Internet users are responsible for 414kg of carbon dioxide a year per person. That is why developing a deeper understanding of energy use and coming up with ways to cut our digital carbon footprint is essential.

How to use technology to lower the carbon footprint

A wide range of solutions can help us reduce our carbon footprint. Transportation is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions. What can be done to cut the footprint? A simple app for carpooling will not only lower the emission from cars since there will be fewer vehicles, but also it will reduce energy usage, which would otherwise go to supporting numerous taxi apps.

If you’re planning a seminar or any other type of offline event, creating a landing page that provides attendees with instructions on how to reach the event via eco-friendly means of transportation will encourage people to use them. Add this to a carpooling app, and you have an enormous increase in terms of transport efficiency and a significant decrease in the carbon footprint of your event.

Technology does leave a carbon footprint, but an efficient and pragmatic approach to using it will reduce, or perhaps even reverse, the adverse effects. For example, a website with information and instructions on choosing, installing, and using solar panels will need the energy to operate. Yet, the positive effect of the information on that website, specifically the growth in popularity of solar panels, will be more significant than the negatives. The information about how people can install solar panels will be significantly more accessible. It decreases the use of fossil fuels and lowers their carbon footprint. Turning the website into an app would make it even more user-friendly. It is a perfect example of software development in renewable energy used to make the world more energy-efficient.

Can we cut our digital carbon footprint?

Most aspects of modern life require energy to operate. Most businesses need power and the Internet. Without the internet, the supply chain as we know it would crumble, and shipping goods would become much more problematic. But that doesn’t mean the systems in place today are perfect or as energy-efficient as they could be. If we want to have a chance to tackle climate change and keep using the benefits of modern technology, we need to optimise the way we use it.

With thorough research and planning, we can contribute to the fight against climate change and help shape a better future. While doing that on a local scale is impressive, we need to change things on a mass scale. This will require nothing short of a global economic transformation and climate leadership at all levels from cities, countries, and corporations. Digitalisation is already transforming the global economy and unleashing powerful forces in every industry.

Adopting more sustainable technologies and making them a part of our lifestyle is the key. This is easier said than done, but it is worth trying for the sake of the planet. Industries need to encourage innovations that will contribute to reducing the carbon footprint. They need to engage with their customers and help raise awareness of the environmental impact of our digital footprint on the planet.

Technology plays a vital role in tackling climate change. Even though it might not seem so bad compared to well-known environmentally unfriendly industries, such as flying, the tech industry still has a dramatic impact on the environment and every action that saves CO2 counts. So by taking small steps and embedding sustainable technology into our lives, we will reduce our carbon footprint significantly.

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Vishal Barath

Vishal Barath

With a background in digital marketing, Vishal provides insightful articles into the latest happenings in the energy sector.