Sustainable technology: Small changes for conscious living

15.05.2022 02:45 PM By BrandQuantum

We rely on technology daily to improve our lives and workplace efficiencies, yet these same technologies have an impact on our environment. Many of the devices we use today from laptops to mobile phones rely on resources and energy that contribute to increasing our carbon footprint and waste. 

BrandQuantum | Sustainable technology: Small changes for conscious living
It is estimated that the carbon footprint of our devices, the internet and the systems supporting them account for approximately 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, similar to the amount produced by the airline industry . Further, these emissions are predicted to double by 2025 unless we do something about it. We can all make small changes to limit the impact of the technologies we use on the environment and work towards more conscious living.

The amount of time spent on electronic devices from laptops to mobile phones all adds up. For example, a study conducted by OVO Energy  explains that an email sent with an attachment is estimated to use the equivalent of 50g of carbon dioxide. If you consider that approximately 4.9 billion  people have access to the internet and thereby email, the carbon usage of all emails sent by these individuals adds up. According to OVO Energy, if each email user in the UK sent one less unnecessary email daily, it would reduce carbon emissions by 16 433 tonnes which is equivalent to 81 152 flights from London Heathrow to Madrid.

To help reduce our carbon footprint, here are a few tips that we can use to make a difference to our planet together:

Sending smaller emails can reduce your carbon footprint

While sending emails may not be on the top of the list as a key contributor to CO2 emissions, according to Mike Berners-Lee, a professor at the Environment Centre at Lancaster University, computers use energy when you type up the email, when you hit send they move to a network and then when you store the email to a data centre that uses a lot of energy. Based on this process the average carbon footprint of an email can be anywhere from 0.03g CO2e to 26g CO2e depending on the time taken to draft the email and the content included in the email from the body copy to the images. 

Using predeveloping content to draft the email could save time in writing the email copy. By ensuring that the correct email content and attachments are sent in the first email, it prevents the need to send several emails about the same issue to the same person, making a difference in reducing the number of emails sent daily from 333.2 billion around the world and minimizing the impact on the environment. 

Send only the attachments you need to send

Emails containing attachments can release up to 50g of CO2e. By limiting the number of attachments that are sent via email, individuals and companies alike can make a difference in their carbon footprint.

This is supported by a study conducted by The Shift Project  that found that exchanging office documents on a shared platform, rather than emailing them across the organisation led to a 40% annual reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions. In addition to modifying how the files are shared, the number of versions of documents archived was also reduced, thereby reducing the need for increased storage on the servers thereby reducing the impact on the environment. 

By giving employees easy access to the latest versions of predeveloped content, brand resources and documents that are managed centrally, employees will no longer find it necessary to save various versions of documents or email multiple versions of documents to colleagues that are struggling to find the right version, thereby minimising the impact on the environment.

Reduce the size of images used in your emails

Email signatures and banners often aim to be eye-catching and reinforce the brand, using logos and images to achieve this. However, in addition to adding to the large size of emails before the body content has even been added, these emails can be blocked by recipient servers, resulting in additional emails needing to be sent. This has a knock-on effect on increasing the carbon footprint of an email.

Companies can reduce the size of emails by lowering the resolution of images used in banners and even compressing the size of the images used in email signatures without compromising the quality of the branding. In doing this, it will reduce the size of the emails and help move a step closer to reducing CO2 emissions.

Today we all need to make changes to the ways we use technology if we are to lower the impact on the environment and help our planet. By making small changes to the emails we send and store, we are already on a path to helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the technology we use daily to improve efficiencies and our lives. Let's make a change together. To help employees achieve this, software solutions, such as BrandMail, should be used to help eliminate the need to store documents and content unnecessarily, send documents to colleagues that can be accessed centrally, and spend time developing content that is frequently used. At the same time every email should carry beautifully branded and functional email signatures and eye catching banners that don’t add to the size of the email. In doing this, employees will be able to reduce their carbon footprint one email at a time.