Have you ever really thought about the infrastructure required to send an email, store files, or have a video meeting? The technical infrastructure required to deliver these services and functionality are “out of sight, out of mind,” and therefore, are often assumed to have a low environmental footprint. While digital services may not seem to negatively affect the environment due to their accessibility and low variable costs, they actually contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and require heavy land and water use.

Take Responsibility for Addressing Your Digital Sustainability

Cloud-based storage has a relatively low financial cost, but it does not reflect the high environmental costs involved. On average, data centers emit around 0.2 tons of CO2 per year for every gigabyte of storage they offer. A good reason to take control of your digital hoarding and save only what’s really needed. Quite often, we tend to keep everything “just in case.” By thoughtfully considering what digital information you’re storing, you can reduce the amount of infrastructure and save energy.

Switching from streaming in High Definition (HD) to Standard Definition generates 20 times less CO2 annually. Surprisingly, mobile device communications are more energy intensive than laptop-to-laptop emailing.

Heavy users of computing, such as those using supercomputers or training AI models (e.g., ChatGPT), contribute significantly to carbon dioxide emissions. A standard supercomputer generates approximately 15 kilotons of CO2 per year. Shifting to renewable energy could reduce this by about 96%. Encourage your government agencies and corporations to take responsibility for addressing their digital sustainability.

Changing our online habits can help save energy and reduce our environmental impact. Contact IT Radix to learn more about ways you can alter your online habits to help our planet!

First published in our August 2023 IT Radix Resource newsletter