The hidden environmental impacts of the internet you might not know about

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Nearly New Guide is a purely digital business that aims to reduce our impact on the planet by promoting more sustainable buying habits and the circular economy. But by our very nature, we are contributing to environmental harm through the internet and device use. In fact, we all are, every time we pick up our phone or ask our Search Assistant what the weather will be like tomorrow. It’s not something that people often think about as we can’t directly see the infrastructure that supports the internet. However, the carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, similar in scale to the airline industry (pre-COVID).

Good news is that by making changes to the way you buy and use your devices and where you host any online content can make a difference in reducing our carbon footprint online.

Be thrifty with your energy use

A simple way to reduce your impact is to be thrifty with your use of energy that is used to access the internet and power your devices:

  • Research if your energy provider has renewable options you can preferentially use and/or install solar panels on your home.
  • Use the ‘power saving’ option on your devices to stretch the life between charges.
  • Take a break from the internet! Try a device free hour or two in the evening to help you unwind and relax prior to bed.
  • Limit unnecessary emails – reduce ‘reply all’, unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters, talk in person (!)

Choose a ‘green’ web hosting company

Did you know that the page you are viewing right now is 300% green? That is, the company that hosts NNG (stores the data on their servers) purchases three times the amperage they pull from the grid in renewable energy via Bonneville Environmental Foundation. That means that NNG is ‘carbon reducing’, a really great feeling. Additionally, GreenGeeks hosting platform has been designed with a maximum use, no waste of resources mindset. Every aspect of the hosting platform is built to be as energy efficient as possible.

Maximise the life of your devices

The urge to upgrade to the newest shiniest device every year when they release a new version is very strong (especially when your ‘old’ device is cracked or the tiniest bit grimey). Although manufacturers are slowly coming to the party when it comes to creating more environmentally friendly offerings, like not including headphones or wall chargers with new devices, the mining of raw materials, manufacture and packaging of the latest shiny device is still an issue. Instead, have a look in your local secondhand dealer, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree for secondhand devices that might be a year or two old, but are still an upgrade from your current device. Or simply just hold on to your device until it is no longer working or suits your needs.

In order to keep your phone or tablet in tip top shape, make sure you protect it with a strong and durable case, preferably one that is made from recycled materials, like the compostable Pela Case. They come in huge range of sizes and brands, with styles to suit everyone.

Dispose of old devices responsibly

If you really really need a brand new device, make sure you dispose of your old one responsibly, i.e. not chucking it in your kerbside rubbish bin, but finding a recycling centre that will accept it. Recycling Near You by Planet Ark is a great resource in Australia for finding recyclers for all sorts of materials. Alternatively, if it is still usable, consider selling it on Gumtree or Facebook marketplace.

Got any other tips for reducing the impact the internet has on the planet? Drop them below in the comments to share with us!

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