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How can we improve our digital carbon footprint?

By Sarah Hynes, Tuesday, 11th January 2022 | 0 comments
Filed under: Irish Technology Sector, Public Relations.

Save the planet one email at a time.

In Comit we are passionate about the environment and are steering committee members of the rapidly expanding tech movement which is making a positive impact on the planet,  Techies Go Green.  We know that we couldn’t have made it through lockdown without our tech, but do we know enough about the effect our tech use has on the environment? 

Improving our digital carbon footprint is an easy way to help the environment, an ideal new year’s resolution and can improve all of our corporate reputations

What is our digital carbon footprint?

All of our digital interactions with our devices and the internet define our digital carbon footprint.

Streaming music and TV shows, sending an email, reading the news online or using a laptop or device. It all adds up. If everyone can make a small difference, imagine what your whole business could do.


Five tips to improve our digital carbon footprint


1. Dispose of old tech appropriately – it also makes financial sense

We often see old unused computers lying around the office. Instead of leaving them there, you can dispose of your tech through companies like Vyta.

Vyta offers a nationwide collection service for businesses across Ireland. When your IT equipment is collected, it is completely wiped and prepared for resale, recycled in line with WEEE regulations or shredded and disposed of responsibly so that every single component that can be recycled is recycled.


Vyta collects and resells IT equipment including:

  • Servers and storage
  • Laptops and desktops
  • TFT Monitors
  • Printers
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Network Devices
  • Hard Drives


They also provide an IT equipment buyback service, so not only does it make sense for the environment, it makes sense for your financial bottom line. In 2021 they revealed that in the previous two year period they returned €7 million to customers for their recycled devices. You can estimate your businesses’ financial return here.

The environment is the biggest beneficiary of properly recycling e-waste. If these items aren’t properly handled, they can release harmful gases and toxins into the air and soil — harmful for people and the planet.

According to WEEE Ireland, the average home has 193 electrical appliances and 110 batteries, and these all need somewhere to go. Electronics are the fastest growing waste stream in the world, so it’s vital that they are disposed of appropriately.


2. Sort your emails

Delete old emails and clean up folders.

Deleting emails is the easiest way to reduce your digital carbon footprint on the computer. You could also unsubscribe from emails or newsletters you don’t actually intend to read or delete those emails once you’ve read them.

Every single email you send has a carbon cost – a typical year of incoming mail for just one business user creates a carbon footprint of around 135kg according to Green Matters. Sending smaller emails can help reduce this. A regular email produces 4g of co2 while an email with a photo attachment produces 50g. Ask yourself if the email is a necessity. If you are sharing a large document with a group, do they all need an original copy or could a link to a cloud or network version of the document serve the same purpose, with a lower environmental impact?

The same goes for unnecessary documents stored on your devices and servers. They all have a carbon cost.

Create a greener and more positive company culture by bringing in an email policy as people do with printing policies. Don’t send anything unnecessary just as you wouldn’t print anything that’s unnecessary.


3. Minimize plugged-in devices

Don’t leave devices charging overnight. Once the device is fully charged, unplug it. Ensure computers that are not in use are turned off every night. Turn off peripherals, such as printers, scanners, speakers and external drives, when not in use.

Following these steps will avoid the ‘vampire effect.’ This is the electricity consumed by your devices when they are plugged in but not in use. Before you leave your office or finish up working from home, check that all devices are unplugged. Taking two seconds out of your day to check that everything is unplugged, could have a lasting positive effect on the environment.


4. Conserve battery life

Power management settings determine when the computer and monitor shut off, or go into sleep or hibernate modes, which use less power than regular operating mode.

Set your laptop to go to sleep or hibernate to conserve energy when you’re taking a break. The perfect time to do it is when you’re taking your lunch at work. Shutting down your laptop and turning off your monitor and printer altogether when they’re not in use will save even more.

Lowering the brightness of your laptop or mobile screen and changing to battery saving mode will make your phone and laptop last longer without charging. The better charged and maintained the battery of your devices are means less time using energy to charge them.


5. Deactivate old accounts and delete old apps

Whether it’s a shopping account or an app that you no longer use, make sure you delete them. A lot of businesses are logged into accounts that they once needed months ago, but no longer need. These accounts/apps will continue to send updates and emails regardless of whether they are in regular use or not. Having them on your device alone will use up data. Sweep through the apps on your device and check accounts you’re still logged into. If you no longer use them – deactivate and delete them. This will reduce your digital footprint and also declutter your devices.


Reduce your digital carbon footprint by disposing of your old tech, sorting your emails, unplugging devices, conserving battery life and deactivating old accounts. These are all simple and common sense methods that will make a difference. You too can save the planet one email at a time.

Make being green part of your culture and brand. Have a positive impact on society while also stepping up your corporate social responsibility.

If you want your business to become more carbon neutral and reduce its carbon and digital carbon footprint, you should join Techies Go Green. It is a non-profit movement for technology-oriented businesses. Members receive simple tips, guides and information and get to collaborate with other like-minded companies who are prioritising the environment in 2022. Your employees will thank you, your customers will thank you, and most importantly the next generation will remember you as someone who made a difference.


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