Can you work online and minimize your impact on the planet?
Whether your job is entirely digital or not, chances are you spend a chunk of your day consuming digital media. It’s inescapable.
If you do create in a digital space or if you simply consume, the reality is that your tech habits do have a significant environmental impact.
What is the environmental impact of social media?
Can we use our online businesses to diminish our carbon footprint? Let’s look at three of the big problems and then consider ways to reduce that environmental impact:
According to Rubicon Global, “Electronic Waste (e-waste) is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s waste stream. It encompasses all broken, unusable, or outdated/obsolete electronic devices, components, and materials. In addition, e-waste also encompasses items that can be e-cycled (electronics that are going to be reused, resold, salvaged, or recycled).”
How much tech waste do we create? According to DoSomething.org, “20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year.”
Bloggers use a LOT of tech.
Think about your own tech footprint: How many cell phones have you used over the last decade? Or gaming consoles? Or TVs, laptops, and all that obsolete tech like fax machines and land line telephones?
Producing all that tech takes a ton of resources, of course, but so does keeping it all up and running. How often is all your personal tech turned off? Or, conversely, how many glowing lights are around your home and office? How often do you have something plugged in somewhere charging?
Same goes for all the services you hire to run your blog: Think about all the servers and 24/7 support centers, the overnight (or same day!) shipping, and so on.
According to that same Rubicon Global piece, “Between June 29th, 2007 and November 3rd, 2017 there have been fourteen iPhone releases – from the original iPhone (First Generation) to the latest iPhone X.”
Do you need to blow through 14 phones in 10 years? Most likely not, but lots of people do… simply because they *need* the latest and newest model. You’ve seen the lines outside Apple stores on launch days, and–ironically–everyone standing in line to buy the next-model Apple phone is playing on their current-model Apple phone.
This consumption-driven habit isn’t relegated to only the iPhone. Striving to keep up with every changing style and trend to keep your Instagram feed fresh results in this same disposable behavior with everything from fad diets and ingredients to clothing to cosmetics.
How can we lessen our digital impact on the environment?
Demand Better Tech… and Use Your Stuff Longer
Is there a company or product you’re loyal to? Write them, and let them know that you’d like to see their products made with environmentally-responsible materials in a responsible production facility. Or, perhaps, encourage them to make a “green” version of the product you love.
Commit to using your stuff as long as possible. Instead of swapping out for a new version each year, stick with yours until it’s no longer serviceable, then find a way to re-purpose, reuse, or recycle. For tech waste, my town offers a once-a-year e-waste recycling drop-off day where they’ll take any tech for free.
Switch to Responsible Service Providers
A couple years ago I changed hosts to Green Geeks (<—– that’s an affiliate link because I believe in them so much) and haven’t looked back!
When it’s time to renew a contract–whether it’s with your host, your ISP, your utilities, or your recycling pick-up service–take some time to research and compare. Make sure you’re subscribed to the most environmentally-responsible service providers available to you.
This is the big kahuna. Use less stuff, and you generate less waste. This goes with tech waste and also utilities like electricity and water.
Before you buy anything, ask yourself: Do I truly need this?
If the answer is no, give it a second thought before you make the purchase. Because, ultimately, every single little decision–like keeping your iPhone for a year longer–adds up to big change.
We all can and should do better whenever and wherever possible!
Always, always learn. Strive to do better.