Greener Clicks and Eco Digital Dilemma- 5 Ways to Lighten Your Online Load on the Planet

Greener Clicks and Eco Digital Dilemma- 5 Ways to Lighten Your Online Load on the Planet
Greener Clicks and Eco Digital Dilemma- 5 Ways to Lighten Your Online Load on the Planet

bhūmir āpo ’nalo vāyuḥ, khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca

ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me, bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā {Bhagavad Gita- 7.4}

This means that the earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego – all together these eight constitute my separated material energies.

In today’s digital world, where everything is online and accessible with a click, from schooling to smart home appliances, and remote work, it has led to a higher contribution to the digital footprint, leading to substantial environmental impact. It thus becomes really important to be environmentally conscious and mitigate these impacts for a sustainable future.

In India, over-the-top (OTT) audio and video services are widely used with over 700 million internet users in 2023. This is a 13.5% increase from 2022, when the audience was estimated at 424 million, leading to much higher energy consumption, carbon emissions, and e-waste. Due to this demand, the rapid pace of technological advancement has led to new additions of gadgets every month, which has grown the pile of discarded electronics.  For example- as soon as a new iPhone model hits the market, people run to upgrade it. We have to understand that it is not necessary to replace our devices; rather, we should extend their lifespan for the future of this planet.

E-Waste and the Environment

E-waste contains hazardous materials that can harm the environment and human health if not disposed of properly. As per United Nations, 62 million tonnes of e-waste was generated in 2022, and less than one quarter (22.3%) of the year’s e-waste mass was documented as having been properly collected and recycled. It further estimates that worldwide, the annual generation of e-waste is rising by 2.6 million tonnes annually, on track to reach 82 million tonnes by 2030, a further 33% increase from the 2022 figure.

To manufacture these gadgets, mining for rare earth metals and other resources is required which can lead to excessive energy use, water pollution, and habitat destruction, among others. Further improper disposal of these also contributes to e-waste issues. To tackle this, one can consider purchasing used or refurbished devices to lessen demand for new production and practice sustainable sourcing.

Streaming of OTT and Digital Advertisements

Not only e-waste but energy consumption through streaming services is one of the factors less talked about. Streaming videos and music requires data transfer, which requires energy and as high-definition the setting is the more energy it consumes. Just one hour of streaming video on services such as Netflix generates about 55 grams of CO2, which equals to driving a car for 300 meters. We can reduce this by downloading content, which has a lower environmental impact because it prevents repeated data transmission.

Further digital advertising also requires a lot of data processing, from real-time bidding to customized ads, which can lead to increased energy consumption. To reduce the number of advertisements, we can use ad-blockers.

While we consume data sitting at home, data centers, also known as the backbone of the digital world, the physical store where data is stored, require a large amount of electricity to operate those servers and keep cooling systems running, which contributes significantly to carbon emissions. As per the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports, data centers consume between 1-1.5% of global electricity, a figure that is expected to rise over time. To address this, we can opt for cloud service providers who prioritize energy efficiency and use renewable energy sources.

Initiatives by Govardhan Ecovillage

At Govardhan Ecovillage, we keep in mind how our physical and digital habits affect the environment. For it, we follow the measures to reduce their impact, thus making it a sustainable model. For marketing, it focuses on community engagement and organic reach rather than energy-intensive digital advertising.

This also promotes a more genuine connection with their audience. It also emphasizes educating communities on the importance of proper e-waste management. And further implements sustainable practices by using solar energy and other renewable sources to power its facilities, reducing dependency on non-renewable energy and lowering its carbon footprint.

Steps to Reduce Your Digital Footprint

1. Limit unnecessary online activities, unsubscribe from unused services, and regularly clean up your digital storage.

2. Enable energy-saving settings in the device, turn off them when not in use, and reduce screen brightness to save energy.

3. Use software and applications designed to be energy-efficient. Some apps offer low-energy modes or settings.

4. Raise awareness about the environmental impact of digital footprints.

5. Support companies that invest in sustainable technologies and practices. Your consumer choices can drive demand for greener solutions.

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