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How to reduce digital pollution in 10 simple steps

When we think about the Internet and data, we tend to imagine an invisible and dematerialized universe. The reality, however, is quite different. The Internet is based on a physical infrastructure made up of networks of cables, data centers and servers active 24/7. Surfing the web, sending emails, storing data and using search engines represent a real cost to the environment. The communication and information technology industry (internet, video, voice and Cloud services) produces 830 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, equivalent to about 2% of global CO2 emissions. Suffice it to say that each Google search produces 0.2 to 7 grams of it.

We then think of the so-called dormant pollution; archiving e-mails in the mailbox makes several servers work continuously in the data centers. These require a lot of energy and need to be constantly air-conditioned and cooled. We also remind you that the volume of stored data is constantly increasing (estimates suggest a doubling approximately every 2 years).

At this point, we begin to get an idea of ​​the environmental impact of a network that is variously distributed worldwide. On the occasion of Earth Day 2022, we want to try to reflect together upon a theme that is still little known. The purpose is not to scare you every time you want to watch a video on YouTube; we just believe that a little more awareness does not hurt and that each of us can play a part in a positive change with a few simple precautions and without major sacrifices.

10 good habits to reduce digital pollution

Reducing our technology emissions is possible. Let’s see how to do it by adopting 10 habits within everyone’s reach:

1. Reduce file size

Write short, concise messages and attach only necessary files to emails after reducing their size (if there are no specific resolution requirements). Whenever possible, use hyperlinks instead of attachments.

2. Prefer download and reduce video streaming

Use the data only once and play the song/video as much as you want afterwards.

3. Store the files on your hard drive

Limit online and cloud storage and prefer local storage.

4. Subscribe only to newsletters that interest you

You know the newsletters that you no longer even read the title of? One minute of your time is enough to unsubscribe.

5. Delete junk files and unused apps

Digital archives take up space on the server; Furthermore, the apps remain active even when not in use, since they are regularly subject to updates that involve the transit of data between servers.

6. Only replace electronic devices if really necessary

Technological production travels at incredible speeds. What is new today will be obsolete tomorrow. But producing electronic devices has a huge cost both in terms of raw materials and processes. The solution? Try to repair the fault or purchase refurbished devices.

7. Turn off any devices you are not using

Make sure your laptop, pc, tv, tablet etc. is turned off when not in use and unplug the power cords from the outlet.

8. Turn off GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth on mobile devices

Any connection on mobile devices consumes electricity. Remove connections you don’t need.

9. Clean up the mailing list

If you manage the periodic sending of newsletters, remember to keep the lists clean and updated, in order to avoid sending emails to unused or obsolete boxes.

10. Join web meeting without video playback

Calls and meetings are now part of our daily life. If not required, turn off the video or, if necessary, say hello to the interlocutors and turn off the camera later.

For further information on the topic of technological sustainability, you may be interested in:

What is digital pollution and what to do to reduce it

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