Reducing your digital carbon footprint with WWF

Reducing your digital carbon footprint with WWF.



It's easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of online activities without considering the environmental impact of our digital habits. From the energy-guzzling data centres to the manufacturing and disposal of our electronic devices, our digital choices significantly affect our overall carbon footprint.  

As we all become more aware of our responsibilities in tackling and reversing the climate emergency and biodiversity loss, understanding and reducing our digital carbon footprint is crucial to any company’s eco strategy.



What is a digital carbon footprint?




Our digital carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by using digital tech. This includes everything from the energy used to power data storage centres, distribution networks and our personal devices to manufacturing and disposing of electronic equipment.  

Drill down a little further, and every email we send, every website we visit, every photo or document we store in the cloud increases our CO2 emissions.    

So, what is the carbon footprint of digital? 

In 2019, digital tech was estimated to be responsible for around 4% of GHG, with a predicted increase of 9% each year. Given how quickly tech is advancing and our rush for the next must-have update or device, that’s probably an underestimate. So, it’s no surprise that reducing our digital carbon footprint is increasingly a focus in efforts to tackle the climate crisis.  

As well as the digital carbon footprint associated with using technology, producing the tech we rely on, from mobile phones to laptop computers, comes at a cost to nature too. For example, mining materials to produce smartphones can cause significant damage to nature, putting people and wildlife at risk.



Benefits of reducing your digital carbon footprint




The most obvious and pressing benefit is cutting your digital carbon footprint helps the environment. But there are sound business advantages, too. 

Enhanced brand reputation 

People are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the companies they support. By showing your dedication to sustainability, you can improve your brand reputation and attract customers who value genuine eco-friendly initiatives. 

Reduced costs  

Optimising your website means you use less energy, resulting in lower bills, and buying refurbished technology can also save money.   

Compliance  

As environmental regulations are strengthened in many countries, reducing your digital carbon footprint can enable you to keep pace with compliance requirements and support your business in hitting climate targets.



How to reduce your digital carbon footprint




The good news is there are lots of quick, simple and practical ways to shrink your digital carbon footprint:  



1. Reduce screen brightness 

 Adjusting the brightness of your monitors, tablets, or smartphones influences how much energy they use. Switching to an “eco” setting, which uses less energy by choosing less bright display settings, enables you to save energy.  Of course, you should always ensure displays are sufficiently bright for safe and effective working.   



2. Buy refurbished tech 

The latest tech releases can turn into a global free-for-all. This rapid consumption means that billions of perfectly useful devices get discarded each year. Whether it’s smartphones, tablets or PCs, consider alternatives to buying brand new products, like remanufactured or refurbished devices. As well as often being a fraction of the cost, it reduces the demand for manufacturing new products, helping to lower GHG emissions. 



 

3. Switch to green hosting providers 

Powering the average website is thought to produce 4,500lbs of CO2 a year. You can research options to move to a green hosting provider, that uses renewable energy sources, which can help to cut your digital emissions and internet carbon footprint.  



4. Optimise your website 

Make your website as energy-efficient as possible. Compress your pictures and audit your content. Remove any underperforming, outdated or obsolete pages and chop any dead links. And make sure your website’s easy to navigate so people can find what they want quickly and easily.   



5. Optimise emails  

We might not even be aware of it, but our emails have a huge impact on the environment. A single email can generate between 4g and 50g of CO2, and storing it can add another 10g per year. Multiply that by the estimated 200m emails sent globally – every minute – and we’re looking at millions of tons of CO2.  Reduce your impact by minimising unnecessary emails, unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters, and deleting old emails regularly. Having a company data retention policy which automatically deletes staff emails after a set period (5 years for example) helps to reduce old data taking up space. And don’t forget attachments. Jpgs, etc., can take up a lot of space, so compress and reduce them whenever possible.  



6. Adjust your energy settings 

Most of our devices come ready-equipped with energy-saving settings. Encourage your teams to use more eco-friendly settings on their laptops, desktops, and other devices.  



7. Promote sustainable digital habits 

Inspire your team to embrace sustainable digital habits. Turn off devices instead of leaving them on standby and use energy-efficient settings. 

As the climate emergency grows, slashing our carbon footprint is crucial, and our digital habits have a big role to play. We must also tackle the impact technology production has on nature, alongside its climate footprint. Shifting towards a more circular economy model, making use of recycled and refurbished equipment is a key step in reducing demand for virgin raw materials to produce brand new tech.  

 

By implementing these simple steps, we can make a difference to our environmental impact and help create a more sustainable future.  

 

For a complete overview of how businesses can take responsibility for tackling their environmental impacts, including waste, energy, plastics and more, read the WWF-UK’s Sustainable Office Guide.  

 

To get  1-2-1 advice about your business, book an appointment with one of our V-Hub Digital A​​dvisers.  

The Vodafone WWF partnership launched a million phones for the planet programme to help accelerate and refine Vodafone's circular economy strategy by increasing the number of traded0in, refurbished and recycled devices. Read more here.

WWF works with businesses of all sizes in many different ways. If you feel inspired to see how your business can join forces with WWF, you can reach out to them at business@wwf.org.uk

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