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The Complete Guide to Reducing Your Digital Carbon Footprint (and Why You Should)

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The internet has revolutionized communication, allowing us to trade messages, share pictures, download music and stream videos with a single click.

I asked some of my friends if they think that their online habits have any impact on the environment, and many thought that it was not the case and that being digital  was a green move.
The truth is quite the opposite.

The Internet is not nearly as green as you might think. In fact everyone using internet has a digital carbon footprint.

What is Digital Carbon Footprint?

A digital carbon footprint is the greenhouse gases generated by a computer in the process of accessing the internet, including the electricity required to run the device itself, transmit and route information through data centers and telecommunications networks, store data locally and on remote servers, and download material from remote servers.

In other words, this type of footprint represents the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our online activities, such as streaming videos, participating in remote meetings, playing video games, downloading files and so on.

Why is Reducing Your Digital Carbon Footprint Important?

Have you ever considered the environmental impact of your daily online activities?

We cannot help but leave our carbon footprint on the environment while we are online: every email we send, Internet search, or social media interaction uses a small amount of the planet’s energy resources. While this may seem insignificant to us, it is important that we become aware of our online impact and strive to be conscious consumers.

While the Internet may seem like a more efficient and environmentally friendly medium due to the fact that most of it is stored in servers, it actually uses physical infrastructure which needs lots of energy and resources. This is why online-based activities tend to cause more carbon emissions than you would expect.

Studies show that the digital carbon footprint we leave behind accounts for 2.3-3.7% of global CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to the amount emitted by all of aviation. This has a significant impact on our planet.

Companies and individuals should consider the digital carbon footprint of their actions to preserve our environment.

Though digitalization has had positive effects on the environment in the last two decades, there are still some costs that must be considered. The Internet does not come out of nowhere and adopting digital solutions can have environmental consequences.

What You Can Do to Cut Down on Your Digital Carbon Footprint

With over 4.5  billions of people connected to the internet around the globe, each of us has the power to make a difference.

Of course, we can’t return to pen and paper, but we can offset our digital carbon footprint by making small, environmentally friendly changes in our daily lives.

Here are few tips:

1. Use emails more wisely.

Even though each email you send has a minimal carbon footprint, we’re sending and receiving more of them every day—and the trend is expected to continue.By using your inbox more efficiently, you can cut down on the amount of emails you send and receive – and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.

If you’d like some simple ways to reduce your inbox’s CO2 emissions, consider these tips:

  • When you need to communicate with a coworker, get up from your desk and go talk to him or her—even if it’s just a quick question. If there are other things you need to say, consider using an internal messaging tool instead of emails. It consumes less energy than emails.
  • When sending an email, it is always a good idea to check your work before actually sending it out. This will prevent embarrassing follow-up emails, in which you apologize for sending out faulty or missing information.
  • Be sure to use an anti-spam tool to reduce the amount of unwanted e-mail that you receive, and empty your recycle bin and spam folder on a regular basis.
  • Unsubscribe from boring email lists. Every day nearly 90% of the emails sent in the world are spam, yet emailing emits on average 10g of CO2—the same as leaving your light on for an hour. Cleanfox helps you get rid of your annoying emails and unsubscribe in a single click—all while lowering your data consumption and improving your overall inbox management.
  • To transfer a file to a coworker, use a USB stick. Otherwise, you can use services like WeTransfer that delete your files after one week if you don’t delete them yourself in the cloud. Unlike services like Messenger, these platforms don’t keep your files forever.
  • When you send files from your computer to someone else’s, compress them first to make the sent file as small as possible.
  • Clean out your deleted emails. Deleting an email doesn’t make it disappear, it just moves it to your spam folder. Delete any emails you don’t need and make sure to empty your trash so that emails are erased from the server. You’ll save energy and decrease the amount of carbon emissions.
  • Before replying to emails, ask yourself if a simple response such as “thank you” is necessary. These messages contribute to carbon emissions, and it is possible to cut down on these unnecessary responses.You all know this message “Think before printing” why not use a new message now “Think before replying”

2. Use your browser more efficiently

  • When you are searching, be precise. Using the right keyword saves energy.
  • When you visit a website that you have gone to before, type the URL directly in the address bar of the browser instead of using a search engine. This will ensure that your search does not go back through the search engine and/or data centres.
  • Use bookmarks when you return to the same site again and again, so you don’t have to repeat the same searches.
  • Close browser tabs that you’re not using, to save energy.

3. Try unplugging more often!

  • If it’s possible, disconnect every now and then. It’s not a bad idea to back away from Google News or social networks for an hour or two every day.

  • Unplug your modem or router at night and when you’re away to save electricity.
  • Disable notifications on your phone.
  • Uninstall unused applications.
  • Delete the old YouTube videos you posted years ago. They are still stored on servers, wasting space and polluting the environment.
  • Take advantage of wifi connections instead of using mobile 4G connections, which have more impact energy-wise. Very high-speed mobile network communication technology places great demands on base stations.

4.Help the environment when you search online.

If you like the idea of helping the environment just by searching the web, then you’ll love Ecosia.

Launched in 2009, Ecosia donates 80% of its profits to plant trees across the world, including Africa, South America, and Asia.

The company has already donated more than 110 million trees – and claims to plant a new one every 0.8 seconds.

Ecosia utilizes the Bing search engine and proprietary algorithms to provide a simple and user-friendly experience.  Google may be more comprehensive, but Ecosia has over five million users, so the app may be worth a try. It’s available as a Chrome extension and mobile browser from Android and iOS app stores.

Ecosia claims that for every 45 searches, it plants a tree. The browser even keeps a running tally to help you track your progress.
Ecosia has been for some time my prefered search engine

5. Disable Auto-Play Videos

To keep people on a website, tech companies discovered that auto-play videos are a great tool.

They’re certainly annoying sometimes—but they’re an effective way to keep your eyes on the screen.

But whether you like autoplay videos or not, they take up a lot of bandwidth – which means increased energy consumption and higher carbon emissions.

 You can disable auto-play videos and reduce your digital footprint by using a browser extension depending on your browser you can easily find one using Ecosia

Unwanted videos use bandwidth.

 By blocking them, you reduce the CO2 emissions of your online browsing—as well as creating an enjoyable, clutter-free experience.


6. Go green by making your website a little more eco-friendly.

If you own a website, blog, or eCommerce store, you can reduce your digital carbon footprint and promote sustainability by using techniques.

If you want to make a green move for your website, you can contact Besyn who specialises in the creation of eco-friendly websites and converting websites into an eco-friendly one.

7. Download instead of Stream

When it comes to your favorite music, movies, and TV shows – streaming has changed the game.

But a lot of people don’t know how much energy they use when they stream.

Why not download your favorites instead?

With that data stored on a hard drive, you can still enjoy your music and videos any time you want using only a small fraction of the energy it would take to stream.

8.Switch off your electronics when you're not using them

Turn off your electronic devices when you are away from them

.It may seem simple, but it can be easy to forget!

Make it a habit to turn off your computer when you’re not using it rather than leaving it in sleep mode.

If you do this regularly, you can help save on the energy consumption.

Even though energy is used only in tiny amounts while machines are idle, it is not used to any constructive purpose.

9.Adjust your monitor and computer settings

If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer, one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce the power consumption of your computer through the following tips:

  • Turn the brightness of your monitor down.
  • Optimise your standby and sleep settings..When you take a break from using a computer , set your device to go in sleep mode to save energy.
  • Extra tip : Turn on dark mode on my smartphone! It doesn’t look bright, which means less battery consumption. Lower battery consumption means you won’t have to charge often and you’ll save on electricity.

10 Buy secondhand, fix old items, recycle and reuse.

It’s best to not replace electronic devices when they still work.

Most people purchase new phones because they want the newest model, and not because their old phones just don’t work anymore.

It’s important to remember that producing a smartphone emits between fifty and one hundred kilograms of greenhouse gases, while using one generates one kilogram of greenhouse gases per year.

  • Repair your broken items instead of replacing them, saving not just money but also our natural resources.
  • Save money and help the environment by purchasing used electronics instead of new ones, or selling your old electronics when you no longer need them.
  • Please recycle your electronics! It’s actually easier not to throw away working electronics. Just give them back to the supplier who can recycle certain components such as aluminum, cobalt, tin. If they’re still working, you can give them to a charity or someone in need. Currently, less than 10% of phones are collected for recycling – the rest are discarded or forgotten in drawers.

If you want to calculate your digital carbon footprint , click on this button below

When the internet, computers, and smartphones first came out they changed our world more than we could have ever imagined. But with these new technological advances also came new responsibilities.

Many people have begun to pursue sustainability, the digital carbon footprint has been neglected by some of the world’s decision-makers.

The growth of our digital world means that its carbon cost is growing rapidly and will have a greater impact on our environment.

The critical issue of internet pollution needs serious attention, and we need to take steps toward a greener future.

 The best way to do this is to speed up the transition to greener energy for the IT industry.

Our digital carbon footprint can’t be ignored; we all need to be accountable for our digital impact on the environment today.

Luckily, we can all make choices that help the environment without sacrificing the digital lifestyle we’ve come to know and love.

So tell me did you know that the internet was a pollutant ?

See you for the next buzz

DISCLOSURE: Restless Bee is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.



Credit for the photos of this article:

Onlineprinters , Deepanker Verma , Charles Deluvio ,
Alexander Shatov , Ben Kolde , Alexander Shatov, Kelly Sikkema , Kari Shea


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Very insightful!


Lots of information that I didn’t even think about! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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