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Your Digital Footprint

If you're really worried about your digital carbon footprint then you’re far too important to the climate in biodiversity fight to be worrying about your digital carbon footprint.  You are already among a tiny percentage of people looking really hard to reduce every part of your carbon footprint and it's likely you're already missing some of the most effective ways of doing it:

So, taken from:  Can sending fewer emails or emptying your inbox really help fight climate change? (December 14, 2022) , here are the main facts about your digital carbon footprint:

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So, what would happen if we decided to send drastically fewer emails or delete emails that are no longer useful? Apart from freeing up some space in the servers that host them, there is no evidence that we could substantially reduce the energy consumption of digital infrastructure. 



Here is why:

Digital data storage and transmission systems operate 24/7

Operating with a more or less constant base load of energy, even when not in use. Regardless of whether the email is sent or not, networks would use about the same amount of energy.


An incredible number of spam emails (122 billion in 2022) and genuine emails (22 billion) are sent every day. While these numbers seem alarming, email exchanges represent only one per cent of Internet traffic. In comparison, video streaming services account for about 82 per cent of internet traffic and could increase further in the coming years.

Knowing that 85 per cent of email traffic is actually spam, sending fewer emails at the individual level would have a limited influence on decreasing the amount of email traffic on the web.

Power use of OUr devices

Regardless of whether an email is sent or not, our computers and routers are always on. Electricity consumption associated with electronic devices, therefore, would remain more or less always the same. Very rarely do we turn on a computer just to send an email.

Efficiency of existing 

Impacts that are associated with the use of data centres and transmission networks are extremely low. To give you an idea, driving a kilometre in a compact car emits as much CO2e as the electricity that is used to transmit and store 3,500 emails of five MB. The electricity needed to heat a cup of tea in a kettle consumes as much electricity as transferring and storing about 1,500 emails of one MB.

Finally, Clean Energy Matters:


Depending on how dirty your energy supply is manually deleting emails can actually have a greater carbon impact than simply storing them, since you spend more time using the computer.

So, don't worry about emails!

They just don't make up much of your digital carbon footprint. If you don't need to send them then don't but if you are thanking someone for helping you or you are being polite, it's still worth the carbon cost. 

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"The best way to reduce the carbon footprint of email is to buy fewer electronic products, retain these devices for as long as possible and use ones that consume less electricity." (actions on repair and recycling here)

"Send emails when you need to or when you think the recipients will appreciate your message, even if it consists of just a simple thank you. Delete your emails if you want to save storage space, find what you are looking for more rapidly, or many other good reasons besides saving the planet."

(despite data footprints being a small part of your overall footprint, according to the IEA)

But, if this is an itch that you absolutely need to scratch…….

There are many ways of reducing your digital footprint but, in the Collective for Climate Action we're always looking for the most effective ways to have the maximum impact with the minimum effort.

As our lives become more and more connected through digital devices and platforms this on of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint by making one or two changes once and never looking back or noticing a difference.

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By far our greatest footprint in the digital world is our video streaming. When streaming in Ultra-High Definition (UHD) you are watching a more detailed picture that will still look good on a massive TV screen, bigger than most of us have. It also uses up to 7GB per hour dwarfing any footprint you could imagine creating in a work day through emails and MS Teams streaming.


Now lets look at how to address this once and for all. 

Reduce your data footprint?.... Change your settings


On a computer you have more options; when streaming with Amazon, the platform chooses for you based on the capabilities of the device you are using. However, if you are on a computer you can select in the options while you are streaming by clicking on the cog icon.


Here you can see just how much data is used per hour streaming at ultra-high definition. Reduce it by either watching on a tablet or reducing the resolution of your stream on your computer. 

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If you use less than 6 devices at a time on Netflix you can switch to the standard package to reduce your data usage. 

Go into your profile on a computer and look for your account to reach the following screen: 

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Possibly the simplest of all is YouTube you just click on the cog icon and you can change the quality of video playback or any video you're watching on any device. 360p is the lowest data usage as it is the lowest resolution or quality of image. You don't have to use this all the time you can switch back and forth as you please depending on the quality you need.

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When buying a new device

Easily insure against using huge amounts of data in your streaming footprint by merely buying a cheaper streaming dongle for your television. "Lite" versions don't have the ability to stream in UHD can save you money and prevent any need to play around with different settings in your device.

Google and Amazon have two of the most affordable and well supported but whatever you buy just make sure you are buying something that streams in HD (1,080p)


Chromecast with Google TV (HD) Snow

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

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