Digital pollution refers to all the pollution caused by the use of new technologies. This digital pollution is caused on the one hand by the massive manufacture of technological devices and, on the other hand, by their excessive and global use. We tend to believe that sending an email is, for instance, more environmentally friendly than sending a mail, but the environmental impact of an email is also significant. Fortunately, we can remedy this problem by taking a few small steps at work (or at home).
Impact at work of the digitalisation
According to the ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency), CO₂ emissions in the professional environment are due for half to the functioning of the Internet (transport and storage of data, manufacture and maintenance of the infrastructure network) and half for the manufacture of our IT equipment (computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.).
Digital technology has turned into a great professional tool, a formidable ally of the environment at first glance: Less printed paper because fewer mails sent or received. Less greenhouse gas emissions because teleworking makes it possible to no longer take your car or public transport, etc. In this time of the global pandemic and the era of widely practiced teleworking, it is hard to believe that you can pollute by staying quietly at home, working on your computer, but in fact, you can.
Misconception : Sending an email is more environmentally friendly than sending a letter by post – False.
Each email sending causes CO₂ equivalent emissions, at a rate of 20 grams per email. But, the carbon footprint of emails also increases depending on the number of recipients, as well as the storage time of an attachment on a server (data center). In fact, an e-mail left in the mailbox for a year generates an additional 10 g of carbon dioxide.
1 email with 1 attachment of 1 MB = 19g of CO₂, i.e. 1 light bulb on for 1 hour
1 mail stored for 1 year = 10g of CO₂
500 deleted emails = 1 saved tree
Solutions to offset this impact in businesses
You are a player committed to protecting the environment and you would also like to make a daily gesture? This is possible by following these few easily applicable recommendations :
- Use specific keywords to limit the number of web requests
- Enter the site address directly in the navigation bar
- Save searched sites as favorites
- Use a green search engine such as https://www.ecosia.org
- Sort your productive emails or not
- Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t read
- Delete your old emails and empty your trash
- Do not multiply the number of recipients of your emails
- Limit sending or compress your attachments
- Keep your digital equipment as long as possible. If you take care of it, a smartphone can be used for 5 years, and a laptop for more than 10 years
- Store locally rather than relying on the cloud
- Have light email signatures, avoid images or at least put them in low-definition
- Opt for used or refurbished rather than new devices
Remove all unnecessary software
- Repair and reuse before disposal. In most cases, your devices are repairable
- Give to an actor for reuse. After being cleaned and refurbished, your old smartphone or computer will be donated or resold. He will thus have a second life. By favoring an actor in the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) you will actively contribute to social inclusion and the fight against the digital divide
- Recycle as a last option. If you have to get rid of your equipment, drop it off in a suitable container or in a specialized store that can prioritize its reuse if it still works
The ECOLLAB team make it a point of honor to apply these tips daily, and you ? What are you waiting for ?