More eco-friendly digital life can save the world



We’ve just rang in the new year, so it’s not too late to say Happy New Year to all readers. Now you might start ticking off your New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight, eating healthier, saving more money, quitting unhealthy habits or learning something new. Those are classic resolutions for self-improvement. But why not add some eco-friendly resolutions to the list to show some love to the Earth?


The Earth’s environment is getting worse nowadays. We need to be aware of the situation and should take immediate action to cut down the harm we cause to the environment. Don’t you know that, as beneficial as it has been, the internet creates an impact on the environment? From power consumption to carbon emissions, it can trigger hazardous environmental threats such as pollution, climate change, global warming and biodiversity loss. Surely we can’t just stop using the internet, but we can use it in a more eco-friendly way. Here’s how. 


Tweak your use of search engines 


There’s many search engines out there, but the most commonly used search engine is Google. On the blog, Google has stated that one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. According to the website Greenspector, it is estimated that Google receives 80,000 requests per second or 6.9 billion requests per day. That adds up to a huge amount of carbon emissions.


To reduce the use of search engines, try to search only when necessary and go directly to websites if you can. For example, go to Amazon.com instead of searching Google for “Amazon”. You can also shift from traditional search engines to more environmentally-friendly ones. The search engines of that ilk funnel their profits from advertising revenue to environmental good causes.


Choose Ecosia to fight for reforestation. Every search you make by this search engine contributes to tree-planting projects across the world. This way we can have more trees to combat climate change and restore biodiversity. If you’re enthusiastic about ocean conservation, you can search the internet by using OceanHero or Ekoru. These two search engines put their profits into the removal of ocean-bound plastic to help protect ocean ecosystems and marine life. If stopping using Google isn’t your plan, you can use Blackle as an alternative. It works exactly like Google, but the homepage and results pages are black to save more energy. 


Declutter your inbox and clouds  


You may have a ton of emails in your inbox. For most of them, you don’t even care to open. Yet those unread emails are still kept forever on a server, which needs to be powered to retain them on storage. Just clean up your inbox as frequently as possible. Delete the unwanted emails, clear spam and junk sections, as well as unsubscribe from the newsletter you’re no longer reading. These actions can help prevent energy waste from using too much space on a server. 


You can apply the same practice to your cloud storage use. The files you store online (photos, documents, music, videos etc.) are permanently preserved on a server that consumes energy every time you access or retrieve the files. Therefore, you shouldn’t start the habit of digital hoarding. Consider what’s really important files to keep on the cloud and remove things you don’t need from it. 


Be reasonable with your video streaming 


Video streaming is another online activity that consumes a large amount of power. This is because videos have to be transferred from the server to your device in real time. The more excellent quality of video is, the higher energy consumption it requires. As the Forbes website reported, an hour of HD video streaming can generate about 160 kilograms of CO2 each year. Now billions of people worldwide stream video content everyday; it means that loads of CO2 are constantly accumulated in every single hour.   


If you need to leave a smaller carbon footprint, you should avoid over-consuming video streaming. You may fall asleep while you’re binge-watching streaming content. So don’t start watching when you feel sleepy. Next, try watching videos less often in ultra HD. Just the standard quality of video is good enough for watching on general devices. Moreover, some streaming services offer an option of downloading video for offline viewing. You can download content rather than streaming online. This will consume less energy from your device and the server.


With a little bit of changes in our online habits like these, we can curtail the impact on the environment while surfing the internet. A greener, more environmentally-friendly and more sustainable path is not possible if we don’t give even the smallest contribution to save the planet digitally. Let’s start now to make the world remain a supportive habitat for humans and other species.