To quote Joni Mitchell “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know whatcha got til it’s gone.”
Well, gone is my WiFi. Since September of this year, I have been without regular access to an internet connection (in a personal capacity) and I’ve really been struggling. The realisation of quite how much I rely on the internet and cloud-based services is pretty shocking, and has led me to question quite how sustainable our addiction to virtual reality really is.
One of the most well-renowned ways to ‘go green’ is to stop printing everything, and move to cloud storage. Unfortunately, this isn’t actually as eco-friendly as you might think. The giant servers needed to store all of our dropbox files, junk email folders and family holiday videos require vast quantities of energy to run them, cool them and keep them ticking over. In fact, cloud services account for nearly 2% of global carbon emissions, whilst the pulp, paper and printing industries only account for 1.1% between them all. Crazy huh?
Whilst I’m not suggesting that we all need to get offline and order some filing cabinets, trying to reduce our ‘digital footprints’ is definitely something to be aware of. One of the first things we can do, is choose to store our files with companies and services which have committed to 100% clean energy. According to the 2015 Greenpeace report Clicking Clean, that means people like Google and Apple, rather than Amazon and Microsoft.
A second step to take is to consider moving browsers. Ecosia is a non-profit search engine which uses it’s advertising revenue to plant trees: not only offsetting the carbon associated with our personal browsing, but helping to restore biodiversity and improve water security in drought-prone regions.
The final thing we can do is a really easy one: clear out junk email folders. Why store data when we don’t need or want it? Not only is it incredibly satisfying, but it’s great for the planet too. Win win.
Hurrah, the internet is sustain-unable no more. You can carry on browsing now.
For more information and top tips on reducing your digital footprint, see the excellent infographic from Custom Made below.