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How to reduce my environmental impact on the internet?

Last updated on 14 December 2020

Within the foreseeable future, the internet will be the biggest source of pollution on earth. Internet use is leaving a larger ecological footprint than we think: its CO2-emissions are 1,5 larger than those of air traffic.

Half of this carbon footprint comes from the internet users, the other half from the network and data centers. With the following tips, you can considerably reduce your impact.

1. Optimize your email usage

  • Monitor the weight of the e-mails you send: reduce the size of your attachments or compress them, try to send a hyperlink when possible.
  • Do not forward chain mail, petitions, humorous images, fakes, hoaxes and other rumours.
  • Do not send replies such as "OK" or "Thank you!"
If every Belgian sent one less message of this type, it would save 2,825 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of taking 573 diesel cars off the road 
  • Regularly delete emails that have been dealt with, and don’t forget to empty the bin.
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read.

2. Improve your use of search engines

  • Enter the website’s address if you know it rather than going using a search engine.
  • Cut down on the number of pages you view by using specific keywords.
  • Place your regularly viewed websites in your favourites.

3. Limit the consumption of your mobile applications

  • Make regular use of your smartphone's optimisation feature that stops apps (sometimes several dozen) running unnecessarily in the background and empties unnecessarily occupied memory space without erasing any of your data.
  • Disable automatic updating of applications you don't use often.
  • Regularly check your applications and delete the ones you no longer use.
  • Download podcasts or music that you listen to regularly rather than streaming.

4. Consume video content sparingly

  • Limit the amount of videos you watch online, don't use YouTube to play background music. Instead, download the files once and listen to them in local mode.
  • Adjust the quality level of the videos you watch: use HD only when warranted.
  • Make audio calls instead of video calls with your smartphone.
  • Don't overuse videoconferencing.
Remember that a videoconference produces less CO2 emissions than a real meeting as soon as the avoided travel exceeds 20 km.

5. Log out!

  • Limit the time spent on the internet and social networks by offering yourself moments of disconnection!

6. Keep your computer longer!

If you renew your computer after 6 instead of 4 years, you can avoid the emission of 190 kg of CO2 related to manufacturing and transportation.

Also read: How to reduce the energy consumed by my laptop, PC, smartphone and tablet?

Web professionals take action!

A video-rich website using heavy and outdated coding technologies consumes unnecessary energy at all levels:

  • These web pages take up space on servers, which consume more and are more numerous.
  • They require more electricity to be transferred to the user's browser.
  • And finally, they make the computer of the viewer work harder, which shortens battery and processor life.

This is why more and more site developers and web professionals in general are looking to offer optimized web pages, i.e. created with more efficient code, easy to store and consult, and less energy consuming.

A more thoughtful design of sites according to the user's needs, with clear and well-structured content, also makes it possible to transmit information more efficiently and prevent the user from spending hours searching for information.

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