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How Technology Affects the Environment: Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Within the last 20 years technology has become deeply ingrained in our daily routines, making everyday tasks significantly simpler to complete. However, alongside its numerous advantages, technology also carries several disadvantages, particularly when it comes to its impact on the environment. Due to the nature of our business we conducted our own research into the impact of technology and what steps can be made to make a small difference:  

Getting Materials:

The production of technology relies on extracting natural resources such as metals and rare materials from the Earth. However, this mining process leads to deforestation, pollution, and habitat destruction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that mining is a major threat to biodiversity, impacting approximately 11,000 species worldwide. Another investigation by The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 1.7 million premature deaths occur annually due to pollution-related diseases.

What can you do? 

Start to support companies that use sustainable materials and opting for refurbished or second-hand devices can make a positive impact. By giving these devices a second life, you reduce the demand for new production and the associated resource consumption and emissions.

Energy Consumption:

In 2021, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy documented that domestic energy consumption per household saw a significant increase of 5%, marking the largest relative increase since 2011. Technology uses a lot of energy, which contributes to climate change. Things like data centres, streaming videos, and charging devices all use a ton of electricity. 

What can you do? 

When purchasing new devices, opt for models that have high energy efficiency ratings, most newer electronic devices have energy-saving features which typically adjusts display brightness, puts the device to sleep after a period of inactivity, and reduces background processes that consume power. Additionally, consider unplugging the power (plugs and power strips) when devices are not in use. 

Electronic Waste:

In 2022 a study by Uswitch showed the UK being the world's 2nd biggest contributor to electronic waste. Throwing away old devices creates e-waste that harms the environment. When these devices end up in landfills, they release dangerous chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants, which can contaminate soil, water, and air when not handled properly. These toxins have serious effects on human health and ecosystem balance.

What can you do? 

To help, you should recycle your old devices at specific recycling centres or through programs offered by electronics retailers. This way, valuable materials can be recovered, and harmful substances can be properly disposed of.

Digital Pollution:

Technology also creates pollution in different ways. Storing and sending data, like streaming videos and using cloud services, uses a lot of energy and contributes to pollution. Data centres are significant contributors to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions due to their high energy demands. Studies have shown that on average, data centres are estimated to contribute around 0.3% to 0.8% of global CO2 emissions with a single email being on average 4 grams of CO2!

What can you do? 

Embrace a digital minimalist approach. Reduce the number of digital files, documents, and media you store on your devices and keep only what is necessary. Instead of archiving or keeping many emails, adopt a habit of deleting unnecessary emails regularly. By deleting files, you help conserve server resources and reduce energy consumption, 

If we all make small changes in our daily lives, we can start to reduce the harm caused by technology. Supporting sustainable practices, making informed choices, embracing responsible consumption and disposal of materials, we can help carve a greener future where technology and the environment can coexist harmoniously. 

Remember, even your small actions can make a big difference. Let's work together to protect our planet.