We all know the saying ” Reduce, reuse, recycle.” This rule that we have been taught since we were children to reduce plastic waste is still relevant today, for a different sort of waste. With the increase in technology, there is a new kind of pollution that we need to worry about: digital pollution. We all have connected devices, but it’s hard to grasp their impact on the environment. Digital pollution is the impact of our devices on the environment: how we make them, how we use them, and how we recycle them. It’s how we use the internet and all different kinds of connected devices, and how frequently we change, and repair those devices. Fortunately, there are a few things that anyone can do at their scale to reduce their digital carbon footprint.
Long live our electronic devices
One of the biggest ways that we can reduce our digital footprint is by extending the life expectancy of our devices. This can be done by carefully choosing the products we buy, taking care of our devices and being mindful of how often we upgrade. For example, many people switch out their phones every year or two as soon as a new model comes out – but that means they’re throwing away perfectly good phones that could still have years left in them! A smartphone should last you around 5 years while a laptop should last more than 10 years. But make sure to take good care of it. You should delete all unused software as it will slow your device with time. And if you have a hardware issue, there is a good chance that it is repairable, often at a low cost.
Buying brand-new devices is not the only option. You can find refurbished devices of great quality anywhere, and it requires much fewer natural resources to use a computer that’s been refurbished than it does to manufacture a new one from scratch. For instance, did you know that the process of making a single laptop takes 240 kg of fossil fuels, 22 kg of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water? This is why opting for pre-owned electronics is a real eco-friendly choice. And if you have to buy new, look for devices with the 80 plus and Energy Star eco-labels.
If you don’t need an electronic device that is working, you can donate it to people who may need them, or small businesses that are looking for affordable electronics. Not only will this give your device a second life, but it will also save hundreds of kilograms of raw materials that would have been needed otherwise.
At last, if you have to dispose of an electronic device, you should make sure to properly recycle it. This often involves taking them to a recycling center, so that they can be properly dismantled and their materials repurposed.
It’s all about energy
Although it might not seem like much, making small changes to our everyday routines can go a long way in reducing digital pollution. And a lot has to do with energy. Everything we do on the internet impacts the environment in many ways. Any device connected to the internet consumes energy and creates pollution not only to function when you charge it but when you use it on the internet. Here are a few things that you can do to limit the energy consumed by your electronic devices:
- Don’t keep dozens of tabs open on your browser. Save them as bookmarks.
- Think about using alternative search engines that run on renewable energy.
- Be mindful of how many emails you send, and more importantly, do not attach files that are too large.
- Use a light email signature.
- Enable the energy-saving options on all your devices
- Enable the eco mode on all your printers
- Put your computer to sleep when you are not using it for a while, and turn it off when you can.
- Turn off your TV box at night.
- Buy eco-produced equipment
- Choose your devices wisely by taking into account their energy consumption
These are just a few small changes that you can make to help reduce the energy consumption of your devices and minimize your digital pollution.
What about businesses?
As for any carbon neutrality program, businesses should start by implementing measurement systems to measure the emissions and track the infrastructure’s impact in real time. This will help CIOs identify where their department can improve.
Everything true for an individual is even more relevant at the business scale. That’s why IT departments should set the example when it comes to fighting against programmed obsolescence, encouraging repairs or recycling programs, configuring devices with the highest energy-saving options, implementing eco-buying policies for electronic devices etc… But businesses should also optimize their IT infrastructures by implementing energy-efficient models. This could include switching to the cloud, which can help reduce your energy usage and IT costs significantly , or optimizing the existing infrastructures by removing unused devices or implementing free-cooling systems in IT rooms. Switching to cloud must remain a carefully considered choice because depending on the use case, country of implementation and PUE, your transition to the cloud could have the opposite effect if done in a rush.
Lastly, businesses have always been a platform for raising awareness. Integrating a Green IT strategy in a company’s CSR is a big step to spread awareness about digital pollution, and encouraging training to teach eco-responsible practices among IT staff can have a real impact on a business’s culture and global behaviour.
At Sopht, we created a GreenOps solution that is the perfect way to help the environment, update your digital infrastructure and improve your finances all at once. Because going green isn’t just about being environmentally conscious; it’s about saving money, too. We offer multi-cloud monitoring to rationalize your infrastructure and related costs by measuring and comparing your different Cloud Providers environmental efficiency. Our IT asset management services allow you to consolidate, organize and pilot all data related to your IT inventory (laptops, screens, smartphones, routers…) to better amortize your carbon and financial footprint. This helps us understand how your users are interacting with their devices so that you can better manage your IT assets and plan for decarbonization.
Contact us for a demo of our new end-to-end platform.