Whether it be scrolling through funny cat memes, or looking for that pasta recipe you've been dying to make, most people have used the internet at least once.
And more often than not, it's seen as a relatively eco-friendly tool to use. With mobile banking saving paper and trips to the bank, to video conferences saving you an extra flight producing unnecessary amounts of CO2.
But have you considered how much CO2 is produced every time you send an email? Or every time you post a funny meme on Facebook?
In this post, I go over some of the ways your internet use is destroying the planet, and some ways you can help.
The Internet produces CO2
To understand how the internet produces CO2, it's important to understand how it actually works. The internet is basically a global computer network that provides information and communication facilities.
In other words, it's a network that connects your computer to another computer, usually a server. A server is a type of computer whose sole purpose is to store information and provide that information when someone queries it.
As it currently stands, the world has over 70 million servers working on the internet, many of which don't use renewable energy, contributing 2% to all greenhouse gas emissions.
With over 3.5 billion people connected to the internet, this has led to its carbon footprint exceeding that of air travel.
A clear example of this is spam mail. Researchers have discovered that the average email sent generates around 4g of carbon footprint. This is produced by the storing and transmitting of the data. Every year, on average 62 trillion spam emails are sent, generating as much energy use and carbon footprint as 1.6 million cars driving around the earth.
Another example is making searches. The average search generates around 0.2 grams of CO2 according to Google (other sources estimate between 1 to 10g per search), which doesn't sound that much right? Considering that the average air freighted orange produces 1 Kg of carbon.
But considering that Google alone receives 63,000 searches a second as of 2019, which would equate to around 12.6 Kg of CO2 produced every second, and approximately 1100 tonnes of CO2 produced every day.
What can you do to help?
But what can you do to help? Surely it should be the big companies lowering their carbon footprint right?
Although in many cases that is true, with Google reportedly investing $45 million in renewable energy, there are still small changes we can do to help.
For instance, most of us use laptops or desktop computers to search the web. When they're not in use, switch them off! Leaving laptops plugged in while not in use still consumes electricity, known as phantom power or vampire power, which produces CO2, and will cost you extra money on your electricity bill.
For a quick search, use a smartphone or tablet, since they consume less energy.
Instead of deleting those unwanted newsletters, unsubscribe from them! The fewer emails that are sent, the more computing power is saved!
And if you are the owner of a website, consider switching to an eco-friendly hosting service, that uses clean, renewable energy to power its servers. Website Carbon is a great tool that can calculate how much CO2 your website produces.
Also, take the time to run a speed test on your website with Google's Page Speed Insights or GTMetrix and inspect what elements could do with improving. A faster website is a more environmentally friendly one!
And finally, delete any unnecessary files you have stored on the cloud or remote servers! The more space a data center has, the less energy will be consumed.
If you learned anything new today, we'd love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to check out our shop, that has great eco-friendly solutions for your household.