Reducing Your Digital Carbon Footprint

Quick and easy hacks

Ipad and plant image

From the food choices we make, to the car that we drive – all of our consumption and energy usage releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – this is our Carbon Footprint. When we collectively produce more carbon than the planet can absorb, the extra CO2 contributes to climate change.  

Online data is processed and stored in huge data centres all over the world, which are powered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – ready to send videos, emails, messages, news etc straight to your screen at the touch of a button. All of this power usage and consumption adds to our digital carbon footprint. 

Staffordshire University Students’ Union is committed to supporting and educating students and staff around sustainability and so we have put together some easy to implement suggestions that you can do to reduce your Digital Carbon Footprint, at uni, at work and at home. 

Settings 

Adjust power settings 

  • Set your computer to go into sleep or hibernate mode to conserve energy when you’re taking a break. Shutting down your computer and turning off your monitor and printer altogether when they’re not in use will save even more. 

Lower your monitor brightness 

  • Research?suggests that dimming your monitor from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% of the energy the monitor uses. Switch to Dark Mode on your devices. Lowering brightness?reduces eye strain too. 

Turn on tracking protection 

  • Data tracking services use masses of information. On most websites you visit, data about you is transmitted to dozens or even hundreds of companies. Some browsers have Tracking Protection which protects you from tracking and collection of personal data by ad networks and third-party trackers.?Setting your preferences to the Strict setting will block most data transfers and processing.  

  • Use an Ad blocker on your web browser 

Emails 

  • Avoid sending unnecessary emails 

  • Only include your email signature in new emails, not replies 

  • Don’t forward long email chains, delete what is not relevant 

  • Don’t cc lots of people who don’t need the email 

  • Attach only essential files, and try to attach smaller files 

  • Link to files that you have stored in a shared location (Team/Sharepoint etc) rather than attaching copies of them in the email 

  • Switch off email notifications in apps (such as Facebook) 

  • Proof-read your emails, so you don’t need to send a follow up correctional email 

  • Delete old email accounts that you no longer need 

  • Clean your inbox and unsubscribe from newsletters that you no longer require. 

Cloud storage 

As we’ve got used to saving everything to the cloud, it’s a great way to help us go paperless. But we shouldn’t use the cloud as limitless storage where we can dump everything! We still need clear structures and filing systems (to help others find things) and to reduce duplications, retention policies to get rid of files that we no longer need and to reduce the carbon emissions. 

  • Clean out unused files from cloud drives 

  • Avoid storing files in multiple places.  

  • Update document versions instead of creating new ones. 

Good Habits 

Use wifi and switch off mobile data streaming 

  • Mobile networks use more energy than wifi. Download your albums and podcast using wifi. 

Download instead of stream. 

  • Although some streaming services are better than others - Streaming music and videos adds to your digital carbon footprint. Opting to download rather than stream means you’ll pull the data from the server only once.  

Reuse your searches 

  • Using search rather than typing in a web address, sends the search information from your browser to the search engine servers for data processing before returning a list of search results to your browser. If you know the address of the site that you need, go straight to the site instead of using search. 

  • If you have searched for a site previously, you can use your browsing history to find the site that you need. 

  • Use webpage bookmarks.  

Block video auto-play 

  • Playing videos uses more energy, so by stopping videos you don’t necessarily even want to watch from playing in the first place, reduces carbon emissions. You can usually find this option in browser settings, or on the platform (Eg Facebook) settings.  

  • If you’re streaming music – turn off the accompanying video if you’re just listening and not watching. 

Offset your digital carbon footprint 

  • Ecosia?is a search engine that funds tree planting from the profit it makes, to offset carbon emissions.  

 

 

While you're here, take a look at our other headline news: