by Jordan Jacobs, Industry Insights
Last month some simple, effective energy efficiency tips were posted for readers to use to save energy costs not only at their businesses, but at home, too. Jordan Jacobs of singlehop.com has some additional ones to share with you. Representing a technology company offering public and private cloud hosting services, Jordan wanted to focus on some of the ways that everyday technology consumption like email, social media, and data storage affects your and your company’s energy usage.
Electronic communications aren’t exactly carbon free. According to Mike Berners-Lee — professional carbon-emissions consultant and brother of the guy who invented the World Wide Web — every time you send an email into the ether(net), you’re using up 4 grams of carbon.[see footnote] And that’s if you don’t add any attachments.
OK, 4 grams doesn’t sound like much, and in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t. But think about how many emails you send today, then multiply that by 365. That’s a lot. Basically, each year the average person emails emit an amount of carbon equal to the exhaust of a 200-mile car ride. All the emails sent scurrying around the Internet in a single day generate more than 44,000 tons of carbon per day! Now, this is not to say that email is a bad thing: it’s certainly better than sending all of those messages on paper in paper envelopes using sticky paper stamps. But there are a lot of ways to cut down on carbon by checking the number of emails that go whizzing by.
Stop replying to all. “Reply to all” works by sending duplicate emails to all the people listed in To: box. You are really sending separate emails to individuals, multiplying your carbon footprint at the same time. Before replying to all, take a quick moment to see if everybody on the list really needs to get your message. You’ll also avoid aggravating all those people who might otherwise ask, “Why the heck did you send me that?”
Don’t spam. Nobody likes to think they’re a spammer, but it happens. Even reputable companies with great products tend to carpet-bomb people’s inboxes with marketing messages that go mostly unread, in the hopes of finding just one new customer. Just because you can send an email to everyone doesn’t mean you should. Tailoring your audience help you increase conversion rates while cutting back on carbon.
Unsubscribe. On the flip side, if you’re receiving emails that you don’t have time to read, take a minute to remove yourself from the mailing list. It’ll help keep your inbox clean, and you can feel even better knowing you’re helping to trim your carbon footprint.
Start a conversation. We’ve all done it; emailed that person who is sitting close enough that you could literally talk to them without even raising your voice. Instead of sending that email, have a little chat. Even if they’re down the hall, get up and go talk to them. You’ll use less carbon by talking than you would by sending that email.
Less social media, more social awareness. Speaking of conversations, maybe email is not your thing. Keeping messages short and sweet — say 140 characters, a quick pic or a sentence-long status update — can’t really take up much carbon, right? Actually, that is right. The carbon footprint of a tweet is estimated to be 0.02 grams [see footnote] Facebook reported that the average user consumes about 311 grams (0.7 lb) per year.
Still, those calculations only take into account what’s happening on the company’s end. If you’re using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone to explore social media sites, chances are you’re also browsing a bit, seeing what your friends are up to, making comments, playing a game or two. That sort of thing. Let’s face it, most of that stuff is probably a waste of time — and a waste of carbon. There’s nothing wrong with using social media, but cutting back isn’t a bad thing either. While reducing social media usage isn’t going to stop global warming on its own, every little bit help. Here are a few thoughts:
Cloud your data. With the rise of cloud computing, you can reduce your personal carbon footprint by relying on the economies of scale that cloud storage provides.
While data centers do use a lot of energy, our company has managed to reduce our own carbon footprint is by installing LED lights, taking advantage of cool-weather conditions, and making strides in server virtualization, which helps us run our processors at peak efficiency. It’s worth asking yourself whether you’re wasting energy, space, and money by keeping your servers on site.
Climate change won’t be solved by any single person, company, or even government. It’s going to take a lot of people all over the world working together to understand how their everyday activities affect the environment. We at SingleHop believe that most people are not merely mindless consumers of technology, but want to use technology to make connections with others so they can live richer, more fulfilling lives. In the end, it’s about awareness. Hopefully this post has helped you learn more about a few of the ways you can make small strides in reducing carbon consumption through technology.
Berners-Lee, Mike. “An email.” How Bad Are Bananas? Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2011. EPUB file.
Bellona, David and Tash Wong. Tweet Farts. tweetfarts.com. Accessed Aug. 7, 2014.
“Carbon & Energy Impact.” Facebook. n.d. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wilson, Jacques. “Your smartphone is a pain in the neck.” CNN.com. Sept. 20, 2012. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wortham, Jenna. “Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall.” The New York Times. nytimes.com. April 9, 2011. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Read more at http://www.singlehop.com/blog/how-green-is-your-tech/#Lp5gPucWz0C0jCEx.99