Although technologies facilitate our daily lives (saving time, increasing collaboration and exchanges, reducing travel), they also have a strong negative impact on the environment. In particular, they lead us to buy a lot of digital equipment (smartphones, tablets, computers, connected watches, etc.) and to consume a lot of energy and raw materials to produce and operate this equipment.
© GreenIT, june 2020
According to a January report by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), 70 different materials, including some 50 metals (particularly rare metals), are needed to manufacture a smartphone.
Added to this is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Indeed, new technologies alone would account for between 6 and 10% of the world’s electricity consumption, in other words almost 4% of our greenhouse gas emissions. This trend is on the rise.
Around 30% of this electricity consumption is due to so-called “terminal” equipment such as computers, mobile phones and connected objects, while 30% corresponds to the data centres that host the data and the remaining 40% is attributable to the networks that circulate the information. The over-storage of data is therefore one of the main challenges in the fight against this digital pollution. This pollution is all the more harmful as we do not perceive it. As data is immaterial, it is difficult to measure the extent of its environmental impact.
© ADEME, janvier 2021
It is therefore to make the world aware of the heavy environmental footprint of digital technology that the Cyber World CleanUp Day was launched.
Derived from the World CleanUp Day launched in 2017 by the Estonian NGO Let’s Do It! World, this initiative encourages users to clean up their digital equipment in order to reduce the pollution they generate during use but also to extend their life span. Indeed, reducing the amount of data stored helps to combat the programmed obsolescence of devices, which slow down as the weight of data increases.
This year, the second edition of the Cyber CleanUp Day is being held in France by the Institut du Numérique Responsable and the association World CleanUp Day France. Thus, from 15 to 20 March, everyone at his or her level can participate in this movement by carrying out very simple actions such as deleting emails, obsolete files or even unused applications on computers, tablets and smartphones as well as on the Cloud.
Some examples of good practices to adopt in our daily lives:
To reduce our digital footprint, some very simple actions can be taken:
- turning off devices when they are not in use and unplug equipment that is permanently on (TV, hi-fi systems, video game consoles, etc.)
- writing emails as light as possible (compress attachments, use links or temporary repositories)
- unsubscribing from unread newsletters
- setting up an automatic emptying of the recycle bin
- saving data (photos, videos, files) on external hard disks, disconnected from the Internet
- regularly deleting messages and/or conversations on social networks or by sms
- deleting temporary files
- disabling transfers to clouds, downloads and automatic updates on mobile applications
- favouring the connection to the Wifi network or the wired connection rather than to mobile networks (3G and 4G)
- disabling location, Bluetooth and mobile data when not in use
- limiting the number of programs/tabs open by closing unused ones
- repairing rather than replacing devices after a breakdown
- buying refurbished devices rather than new ones
You too, take part in this citizen and responsible movement!
Text by Charlotte Chaussat, Programme Manager of International Impact
La face cachée du numérique, ADEME, january 2021
Impacts environnementaux du numérique en France, GreenIT, june 2020