What Is The Environmental Impact Of Being Online?

When we talk about our carbon footprint, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

Air pollution, food transportation, animal agriculture, maybe even fast fashion... how about the internet?

As the world continues to work differently, time spent at home or in the office with our online devices is continuing to increase, and this has an effect on the environment.

Right now, as you read this article, a carbon footprint is being generated by the internet.

Let's take a further look at what this means in terms of working from home, travelling as a digital nomad or simply passing the time on our devices.

You may have never thought about the environmental impact of using your phone or laptop.

They don’t appear to cause visible contamination or pollution. Our devices may seem to only generate waste when we are done with their use and not sooner, but this is not true.

The processes behind each message sent and Instagram post are numerous and very complex. Did you know that each email sent generates roughly 1g of carbon emissions?

Just imagine the impact of that on a daily basis per email sent not to mention the time spent streaming music, online gaming, watching Netflix, editing photos or building websites. It doesn’t sound like much per person until you think about how many people use the internet every day.

In this article, we will see how our online lifestyle is affecting the environment and how you can reduce your internet carbon footprint with a few simple actions.

Why Does The Internet Have A Carbon Footprint?

Well, as you may imagine, the internet is a very complex industry. However, we can split these processes into the following categories:

Data Centres

It all starts in Data Centers. These facilities store all the data that we send and receive, like an email and even an Instagram like.

Data centres work with computer systems that use vast amounts of energy and must be held at a constant temperature. These machines operate 24/7, and therefore its temperature would naturally increase. This is why data centres have refrigeration systems that keep their temperature at 18ºC. And of course, these refrigeration systems use lots of energy too.

Telecommunication Networks