Digital Carbon Literacy

Green Computing

Computing devices, undeniably, have become an inseparable part of our lives. While doing your tasks on these devices the last thing you’re probably thinking about is the carbon footprint – but should you be?

With Climate change becoming more pressing matter than ever, it is imperative that we take severe measures to make our lives more sustainable. Carbon Literacy is ‘an awareness of the carbon dioxide costs and impacts of everyday activities, and the ability and motivation to reduce emissions on an individual, community, and organizational basis’.

Cost of an email :
Mike Berners-Lee wrote in his book : “How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything“ that A standard email can emit up to 4gms of C02e,
a spam email can emit up to 0.3gm of CO2e and
an email with attachments can release up to 40gms of CO2e

Standard Email
0 g 50 g
Spam Email
0 g 50 g
With Attachments
0 g 50 g

Mike Burners-Lee is the brother of Tim Burners-Lee, (the guy who invented the world wide web).

As per a survey a person receives 121 emails on an average per day.
60.5 spam emails x 3 g = 185 g CO2e
30.25 standard emails x 4 g = 121 g CO2e
30.25 emails with attachments x 40 g = 1210 g CO2e
Total CO2e per day = 1516 g CO2e
Total CO2e per year = 553 Kg CO2e

Avg Emissions per day
1516 grams
Avg Emissions per year
553 Kg

To put this into perspective, the total yearly carbon footprint of the average person living in India is approx 0.5 tonnes CO2e. Find more here

I bet your emails don’t seem quite so insignificant now?
But What are Companies doing to help ?

Dark Mode : Android, ios and even windows devices now have dark mode/theme available in their operating system itself. This is a small step towards green computing, as it allows efficient energy consumption. 

Power Saving Modes : The pc and smartphone segment is constantly working on making these devices consume less energy and work on even low power. We can find power management options on laptops and computers as well as smart phones these days.

Green Servers : Servers use a lot of power to just keep their thermal surroundings under control. BIg IT companies are trying several green computing methods to keep up with the increasing data demands. For eg : Under ocean servers and data centers.

“The real power belongs to the people. United we can move nations”

There is so much research and execution going on Inside the industry itself, the question is, Can we Individuals make any difference ? 

  • Regularly clean and maintain the mailbox. Delete spam, promotional and social media mails frequently. It’s easy if we know how to delete mails in bulk 
  • Free up space by removing backed up files and duplicate files. 
  • Delete unnecessary  files from cloud and pc.

The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. And these emissions are expected to double by 2050. This is why it is important to acknowledge that every little effort matters in this fight against climate change because making deliberate effort to make minor changes in our lives can change the world.


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