How much carbon am I taking up online?

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How much carbon am I taking up online?

By this point, we have an understanding of which everyday activities we should be monitoring, and trying to reduce, in an effort to curtail the climate change crisis.

Or do we?

In a recent study from OVO Energy, only a mere 3% of the UK public knew their average annual carbon footprint.

Understanding how much carbon is produced by your everyday activities is a hugely important step in reviewing your carbon footprint and assessing your company’s digital transformation.

So, allow us to quantify the carbon output of some of your everyday online tasks, coupled with some mind boggling stats that may surprise you!

Your Social Media Accounts

It’s true. Unfortunately, those hilarious viral memes and gifs are warming the planet. It’s more than likely that you’ve visited this page having just been on a social media app, or you’ll visit one after this page – or both! The truth is that each one of these ‘sessions’ comes at a cost.

According to Raffi Krikorian – a developer at Twitter - the energy needed to post just a single tweet is roughly 90 joules, or to put it another way, 0.02g of CO2 emissions. This may not seem a lot, but as the adage goes: “it all adds up”, especially when you consider that as of 2019, Twitter averaged 330 million monthly active users.

Interesting Fact: 50 million tweets are sent every single day!

Your Internet Browsing

In today’s world, Google seems to be our answer for everything, and it isn’t too bold to say that it has re-moulded our culture and even the wider world. In its circa 20-year existence, Google has grown exponentially, from one stage of its product lifecycle to the next.

As a result, there are an estimated 60,000 searches made on Google every second. To put this into context, it is predicted that the average search produces 0.2g of CO2.

However, it’s very important to note that as it has grown as a product, it has also grown into the area of sustainable energy, by becoming carbon neutral back in 2007, whilst now aiming to be carbon-free by 2030.

Likewise, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have all pledged to go carbon neutral by a given date.

Interesting Fact: Over 60,000 searches are made per second on Google. That equates to 5.6 million searches per day and 2 trillion global searches per year.

Your E-mails

Now, 60,000 Google searches per second might sound like a lot, but it is nothing compared to the… wait for it… 2.4 billion e-mails that are sent every second.

As eCo2 Greetings reported last year, a normal e-mail without an attachment has a carbon footprint of 4g of CO2 equivalent. When it is all added up, this can be a problem, but there are several easy-to-action steps that can reduce your e-mail carbon footprint, such as:

  • Unsubscribe Audit – we have all been guilty of subscribing to too many e-mail alerts and then forgetting to unsubscribe. Remember: a new e-mail into your inbox starts a new energy trail.
  • Is That Attachment Necessary? As you can imagine, the content of the e-mail also affects its carbon footprint. So, when it comes to sending the e-mail, consider whether that file you’ve attached could be compressed, or whether it could even be replaced by a hyperlink instead.
  • Who Needs To Be On This? – As we mentioned above, every time you CC someone new onto the chain, it starts a new energy trail that could be avoided, so consider whether everyone needs to be on this one.

Interesting Fact: About 15 billion spam emails will be sent daily, this year.

Binge-watching the latest TV show

The carbon footprint of binge-watching your favourite TV shows has long been an area of disagreement for many experts.

Regardless of how long it has taken to accurately understand the digital effects of streaming, the conversation and reports have increased awareness about carbon emissions, and have begun to put pressure on the relevant data centres to streamline their operations.

Interesting Fact: UK based gas and electricity supplier comparison site ‘Save on Energy’ reported in 2019 that the third season of Stranger Things was streamed 64 million times. The amount of carbon that this produces equates to driving over 420 million miles!

One thing is for sure – as our sources of entertainment continue to move online, expedited by Covid-19, we must stay aware of the effect they have on the environment.

This is as true for our personal lives as it is for our working lives, as businesses everywhere work quickly to reverse and decrease their digital carbon footprint. Industries across the board are continuing through a phase of digital transformation, so we need to factor in digital sustainability at every step. If you are a company looking to help the planet and become more sustainable in your digital actions, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you on your digital transformation journey.

You can also see more of our work in our Case Studies section on our website.