Ecological solutions make it possible to limit energy consumption, lower carbon dioxide emissions and reduce waste by choosing appropriate equipment and recycling it. Digital technologies account for a similar amount of global CO2 emissions as aviation. The internet is powered by physical infrastructure operating 24/7, running on the electricity derived from fossil fuels. Pro-environmental activities which are easiest to introduce include information ecology, e-mail use standards and appropriate disposal methods.
Information ecology. Information ecology is all about adequacy, i.e. choosing tools adequate for your assumptions to avoid creating unnecessary websites or apps. Whenever possible, you should use your phone rather than a computer to search for information as phones use up less energy. Other elements of information ecology are accessibility and efficiency, i.e. matching the tools to the recipients’ capabilities. The risk of disinformation is increasing, so it is increasingly important to care about credibility and verifiability of information shared by employees and recipients. Cybersecurity is also important in this context.
Good practices associated with sending emails
Clean your inbox of unnecessary newsletter subscriptions using Cleanfox.
Only copy your email to essential recipients. Prepare your message carefully so that it only includes the necessary information. Limit the number of emails you send.
In the footer of your email include text instead of images. You can also include a request not to print the email and some advice on more conscious email usage. An example message: A typical email generates 4g of CO2 emissions. If it contains an attachment with an image, more space is needed to send it, so its digital carbon footprint increases to 50g. As far as emissions are concerned, sending 65 emails is equivalent to driving a car for 1km.
For direct messaging, try to use encrypted messaging apps, e.g. Signal. You can choose settings which would cause your messages to be deleted after some time, thanks to which they would not use up space on the servers.
Find an email provider other than GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) [link]. Lack of appropriate regulation allows big IT corporations to censor the freedom of speech on their own terms, support the circulation of ‘fake news’, manage the data of their users in a non-transparent way, and dictate marketing rules (e.g. launching free or low-cost products in order to gain monopoly and raise prices).
You may wish to consider choosing one of the below:
Good practices associated with Internet browsing.
1. Examples of search engines:
– Ecosia – uses servers powered by renewable energy;
– DuckDuck – anonymises online searches;
– https://metager.org/ – created by NGOs, powered by green energy, respects privacy of its users.
2. Examples of open source browsers:
https://www.mozilla.org – the best-known and most popular alternative;
https://www.torproject.org – enables anonymous surfing. Additionally, it is worth checking https://snowflake.torproject.org/, a plug-in which makes it possible for people in areas restricted by censorship to use the internet. Requests from such places go through the servers of volunteers, i.e. people who have the plug-in installed;
https://brave.com/ – it emphasises privacy and energy use optimisation while browsing;
https://www.waterfox.net/ – focuses on privacy protection;
https://gexsi.com/en/ – a European product, a certified B Corporation.
3. Install Carbon Analyzer extension to find out how much energy is used by your frequently visited websites.
4. Optimise your social media apps. Firstly, turn off automatic video playing in the background.
5. Download playlists and videos onto your device. Streaming podcasts and music without WiFi connection consumes large quantities of data. Try to avoid video streaming, do not listen to music on youtube.
6. Use WiFi instead of 3G/4G mobile connection. The amount of energy used by WiFi is much lower.
7. Set automatic app updates only when connected to WiFi.
8. Use work platforms based on open-source software, e.g. www.jitsi.org or share paid access to platforms with other institutions.