As things stand now, the Cloud isn’t all green. But there are things you and I can do to change this!
1. Choose wisely
Life is complicated. I am not a big fan of Apple for numerous reasons (amongst others, the fact that they produce heavily polluting devices – not to mention their social cost – that are programmed to become obsolete after just a few years), but I appreciate their leading efforts in terms of supplying their data centers with renewable energy, and that makes me consider switching to Apple Music from Spotify. However, maybe that’s not enough to convince you to change your habits, especially if like me you are reluctant to give your dough to Apple (yep, that’s a bad pun on apple pie). Do your research and weigh the pros and cons – there will always be both.
2. Swap search engines
An internet search done through Google generates 0.2g CO² (and that’s only the search, not everything that surrounds it such as the electricity used by your computer while searching). That does not seem like much, but then again, it adds up quickly. Enter Ecosia.
I have been using Ecosia off and on for close to a year now. Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees: they use 80% of the profits generated from ads to finance reforestation in Burkina Faso. I like their systemic approach to this issue, and their transparent communication, and I love to see that I have helped plant hundreds of trees so far (along with the rest of the community).
I am not going to lie to you: it’s not as good as Google. It can be frustrating. I would not be using it if they weren’t planting trees. Yet, they are planting trees, and in the process, empowering people, positively impacting local economies and the communities’ social stability and food security, and that’s more important to me than the convenience of Google. So far, they have donated more than 2.8 million dollars, and planted more than 4.2 million trees.
3. Get a new email provider
Yes, emails have a carbon footprint! According to this article from the Guardian, emissions due to emails range from 0.3g CO² (for a spam email) to 50g of CO² (for a big, heavy email).
I’ve recently got a Posteo account. Posteo is a German company that runs on 100% green energy (from Greenpeace Energy, i.e. you can trust them), is completely ad-free, does not collect nor sell your data and personal information, offers a comprehensive encryption system, and lots of other cool things. They also don’t let spam in, so that’s a big energy saver. It costs 1 euro/month, but that’s the cost of freedom.
The switch from Gmail to Posteo wasn’t too painful, although it certainly does not look as fancy as Gmail does. You also get a very good calendar with your email address.
4. While you’re at it, delete your emails!
Those emails are saved somewhere, and chances are that somewhere ain’t pretty – see my previous article. So delete the 1,764 emails you have not yet read and never will. With Gmail, it’s easy, you can just delete all the emails in a tab (like social or promotions). I just did it, and I deleted 919 threads in one click (that felt good).
Since I have begun to use Posteo, I also try to delete emails that I will not use again right away (newsletters, confirmations of sorts, etc). Although I am a sentimental person, I’ll also try to regularly delete personal conversations that I’ll never read again, and keep my inbox in check.
5. Limit your computer usage
Do you ever get the feeling that you spend waaay too much time in front of a screen? I certainly do, and I have decided to cut down my computer usage to under 40h/week. I am using RescueTime in order to track and analyze my time spent on the web, and I can tell you what a breakthrough it is to see the actual numbers of your internet usage. You know it’s time for action when an extension tells you you lost 2,5 hours of your day to social media. Stayfocusd is also a good resource to stop perusing the web mindlessly, as it limits the amount of time you can visit certain websites of your choosing.
Any other suggestions/ideas I missed?