In the digital world, similar to the environment, there is a huge amount of trash.
Unnecessary emails, files, apps, duplicates of photos and videos are all digital waste.
This digital waste creates digital pollution that continues to consume energy even when we have forgotten it.
Digital trash sits in the backups on servers that provide us with cloud service and continue consuming electricity.
Each year the internet and its supporting systems produce more than 900 million tons of CO2.(1)
Global energy-related CO2 emissions grew in 2022 by 0.9%, reaching a new high of more than 36.8 billion tonnes (2)
By some calculations, Internet use accounts for 3.7% of global emissions, which is equivalent to all air traffic in the world.
And this figure is expected to double by 2025.(3,5)
Some studies estimate that the internet network will consume 20 percent of the world’s total energy by 2030 (4).
If we delete all unnecessary files, apps, photos and videos, we are not just saving a huge amount of CO2 but we are also extending the life of our gadgets, feel more balanced, and we take control over our lives, forge new digital habits, and we will be more efficient and satisfied.
Sounds like a win-win!
Be cool – don’t feed global warming with digital trash!
Cut down your CO2 share, join the Digital Cleanup Day on
18th March 2023!
(1) The Digital Waste Research Group of Tallinn University, 2020
(4) Andrae, Anders. (2020). Hypotheses for Primary Energy Use, Electricity Use and CΟ2 Emissions of Global Computing and Its Shares of the Total Between 2020 and 2030. WSEAS Transactions on Power Systems. 15. 50-59. 10.37394/232016.2020.15.6.
DID YOU KNOW?
- If 70 million streaming subscribers were to lower the video quality of their streaming services from HD to Standard, there would be a monthly reduction in 3.5 million tons of CO2—the equivalent of eliminating 6% of the total monthly coal consumption in the US. (1)
- An employee who participates in 15 hours of online meetings with their camera turned on, creates 9.4 kg CO2 a month. By turning off the video he would save the same amount of emissions that are created by charging a smartphone each night for over 3 years (1151 days). (2)
- It takes more energy to mine for BitCoins than the whole of New Zealand consumes in a year. It is important to remember that mining BitCoin produces nothing but a few bytes of encrypted data. It consumes tremendous amounts of energy with computing without actually creating a product or a service of use.(3)
- With the energy you use for video streaming (on average 2hrs per day), you could commute up to 3000 km or 2000 miles with an electric scooter a year. That is a transport budget of 8 km or 5 miles per day! (4)
- Google uses 15,616 MWh of energy each day, this is more than Hoover Dam produces and it would power a whole country with 1 million inhabitants for a day. (5)
- Our limitless consumption of data today needs 3 times more energy than all the solar panels in the world can produce. Our internet craze works mostly on fossil fuels, so clicking, scrolling, and streaming is responsible for more than 870 million tonnes of CO2, adding more force to the deadly global warming trend. (6)
- Each day 281 Billion emails whoosh around our planet. Refreshing, reading, and replying to our work emails takes more than 3 hours a day, 5 if you include personal email accounts. It can take more than 23% of our workday, more than 20 weeks a year. Organizing your emails, sending less of them, and using alternative ways of communication, like co-working spaces, would free that time, but also limit the ineffective practice of organizing work through emails. (7)
(1)Source: Renee Obringer, Benjamin Rachunok, Debora Maia-Silva, Maryam Arbabzadeh, Roshanak Nateghi, Kaveh Madani. 2021. The overlooked environmental footprint of increasing Internet use.
Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume 167.
(2)Source: Renee Obringer, Benjamin Rachunok, Debora Maia-Silva, Maryam Arbabzadeh, Roshanak Nateghi, Kaveh Madani. 2021. The overlooked environmental footprint of increasing Internet use.
Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume 167
(3)Sources: Stoll et al., The Carbon Footprint of BitCoin. Joule 3, 1647–1661. July 17, 2019. Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joule.2019.05.012 .
Energy Consumption: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption
(4)Source: Andrae, Anders. (2020). New perspectives on internet electricity use in 2030. Engineering and Applied Science Letters. 3. 19-31. 10.30538/psrp-easl2020.0038.
https://www.tuul.xyz/pood/p/tuul-electric-scooter – average energy consumption for a scooter is 20 W/km. https://www.iea.org/commentaries/the-carbon-footprint-of-streaming-video-fact-checking-the-headlines
(5) Source: https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/mega-what-the-worlds-biggest-and-most-notable-power-plants/
(6) Source: https://www.iea.org/reports/electricity-information-overview
HOW TO DO a DIGITAL CLEANUP?
Guidelines for individuals
Clean your smartphone up
Remove all applications that you haven’t used for a while or used only a few times. Be honest and bold! Delete all those unnecessary forgotten old apps and games that you have downloaded, but not yet even really tried. You won’t start using them later either – for sure! They consume energy even when they are not in use and can consume monthly hundreds of megabytes of data for updates.
Don’t forget to delete any user accounts (including emails) and all its data you created when you were 15 and haven’t accessed it for a decade. You will speed up your phone and increase the battery time – it is always worth it to have as few apps as necessary.
Review your photos and videos. By deleting the unnecessary and the duplicates, you can free up tens of gigabytes of valuable storage.
Clean your PC or laptop up
Clean your PC and delete files that are duplicates or have become useless. Sort your photos, delete duplicates and the blurry ones. Go through the videos and delete watched or unnecessary files. Archive the important files. Be prepared to find really amazing things in your computer!
Clean your mailbox up
Filter emails by the oldest one and archive them. UNSUBSCRIBE from newsletters you don’t read. Select long conversations, pick the newest one and DELETE everything else. Search for common names, addresses, and words to round up similar emails so you can deal with them as mass. Be brave and click the DELETE button.
Make new arrangements
Instead of sending emails, use more co-working places.Stop sending ‘ok’ and ‘thank you’ emails! Keep the important files in a cloud in one place so there is no need to keep the same file in every computer. Think first before you backup. Create less “fast-content” and be more intentional about your videos and photos. Make sure you back-up only files that you will need and photos that you love.
Small changes in your Internet habits such as turning off video during a virtual meeting, reducing the quality of streaming services, decreasing gaming time, limiting time on social media, and unsubscribing from newsletters and email lists can significantly reduce your environmental footprint!
Be creative and live light
HOW TO ORGANIZE A DIGITAL CLEANUP?
Guidelines for organisations
Companies and organizations can make changes in everyday work flow that help reduce the ecological footprint of digital systems significantly. This requires a little time and willingness to make strategic decisions and implement simple changes. When you think of your workflow, you must evaluate what works and what doesn’t and how you can make the system work better for everyone.
Why should you care?
- By tackling your digital footprint issue, you reduce your organizations’ environmental load and create a sustainable workflow.
- Too many systems or half-used solutions decrease efficiency. Organized and clear virtual offices help increase worker satisfaction.
- Digital waste is expensive for your and the environment – each minute 240 million emails are sent of which 20% are never even opened. The space occupied by backups and unused files on servers cost actual dollars – they are billed to you monthly.
- The less forgotten backups and unused digital systems you possess, the less time and resources are spent on surveillance and monitoring of logs. Consequently, there are less security risks and less strain on servers.
- Organizing and taking part in Digital Cleanup Day increases team morale and unity. It is a team building event. Free, fun and has a both a good social and environmental impact. It is also 100% safe in terms of Covid-19 restrictions.
- By inviting other organizations to join you in digital cleanups you help create awareness on the issue, and start the discussion in society on how we can solve the invisible problem of digital pollution.
How to reduce your organization’s digital footprint?
Know what is trash, what is not
What is digital waste in your organization? Which digital procedures create an environmental footprint in your organization?
Digital waste could be anything from pointless copies, to forgotten backups to customer records kept for years just in case. But your digital footprint also increases by sending emails with or without files back and forth, using virtual workspaces irregularly, backing up large files on servers in real time, holding long meetings with videos streaming etc. A great way to start figuring this is out is to make an overview of what is business critical, what kind of records are required to be kept by the law, and by evaluating the efficiency of your digital procedures.
Map your digital waste
Find out where your forgotten digital trash is: check your backups, e-mails, expired records and documents, what is kept on servers, and where large files are kept.
Organize a digital cleanup
Educate your staff about digital waste and organize a digital cleanup day with your staff, you can encourage them to clean in their personal and company devices. Organize a competition, or challenge your co-workers to participate. Get rid of all junk and keep what is business critical in cloud servers. Include your IT department in coming up with solutions that would cut down on wasteful digital practices.
Implement practices that help control the digital waste issue:
Automate deletion of expired files, organize virtual workspace in a way you would organize an office, have less and more effective video meetings, make sure you are using your virtual office effectively, educate your employees in digital practices, and give up systems that don’t serve you well.
HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH I DELETED?
1. Check the current size of your mailbox.
Go to Outlook > File > Mailbox settings > write down the number of free GB in your mailbox. Don’t miss this, otherwise you won’t know the results of your cleanup efforts!
2. Filter emails by the oldest one you have, and collect them into one folder.
3. Search for common names, addresses, and words to round up similar e-mails so you can deal with them as mass. Be bold and click the DELETE button.
4. Select long conversations, pick the newest one and DELETE everything else. If that is also not relevant, dare to get rid of the last one, too.
5. Unsubscribe from all newsletters that haven’t won your deeper attention. You won’t be reading them in future, for sure.
6. FYI emails (for your information) – just DELETE!
7. OK emails (chats with a large group of people, that you could do in other channels) – simply DELETE!
8. Block unwanted senders. Go to Home view > Junk > Block sender.
9. Turn off email notifications from apps and social media.
10. Delete old appointments from your online calendars. All those overdue appointments pile up in your calendar folder, and create digital waste. Make deleting them your weekly routine.
Congratulations! You really did a good job!
Clean up mobile storage
1. Write down the current storage space left on your mobile phone
o Android phones: Menu > Settings > Storage
o iPhones: Settings > General > Storage
Don’t miss this, otherwise you won’t know your cleanup results!
2. Dare to delete everything unnecessary
Your phone should have at least 1 GB memory space free. Remove all applications that you haven’t used or used only a few times. Be honest and brave! Delete all those unnecessary, forgotten, old apps and games that you have downloaded, but never really used. You won’t start using them later either – for sure!
You can also delete your phone’s preinstalled applications, but make sure that you don’t remove system applications.
3. Care about your cache
It’s worth clearing your phone’s cache every now and then.
o On Android phones, go to Settings > Tap the Storage heading > Find the application you want to clear > Clear cache
o On iPhones, go Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data > Clear History and Data
Check also, how much space do your apps take, go Settings > General > Usage (iPhone). You should delete the heaviest apps and reinstall them again. You will be surprised how much more space this gives you.
4. Store your important documents in the cloud and photos and videos on external hard drives.
Do you really need ten versions of the same picture, or could you save only the best one? It’s typical to keep your most valuable memories on your phone ONLY and that is a huge risk to lose them all at once! So, store your personal photos and videos on external hard drives, and your important documents in the cloud services, such as iCloud, Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive.
On external hard drives, your pics and videos are safe without taking up space on your phone. External storage is an inexpensive way to store your memories without worrying about losing them. If you haven’t done this before, now it’s time to start!
5. Go back to the original storage size of your phone – see the number you wrote down in the beginning, then check the current size and do the calculations – how many GBs did you manage to delete?
8. Finally, go back to our campaign site and fill out the number of deleted gigabytes. If you want to continue cleaning up, you can join us again and fill out the new numbers.
Congratulations! You really did a good job!
Source of information: Telia Eesti Digital Cleanup Day and Telia Company Digital Cleanup Day websites.