Start becoming digitally sustainable.

Start becoming digitally sustainable.

September 30, 2023

Becoming digitally sustainable is a critical step in minimizing your environmental footprint and ensuring the responsible use of digital resources, sometimes implementing these steps will actually save your organization money. Here are steps you can take to start becoming digitally sustainable:

1. A Sustainability Audit: Understand and go over the environmental impact of your digital technologies, such as the energy consumption of data centers, e-waste, and the carbon footprint of internet usage.

2. Reduce Energy Consumption:

    • Use Energy-Efficient Devices: Choose energy-efficient devices and components for your digital equipment, such as laptops, desktops, and servers.  This may save thousands if not millions in energy costs to your organization while reducing your carbon footprint.
    • Turn Off Unused Devices: Power off devices when they are not in use to reduce standby power consumption.
    • Optimize Settings: Adjust the power settings on your devices to reduce energy consumption when they are idle.

 3. Reduce Data Center Impact:

    • Cloud Services: Use cloud services that prioritize energy efficiency and renewable energy sources for their data centers.
    • Data Center Location: Select cloud providers with data centers located in regions with access to renewable energy sources and use solar, wind and other environmentally friendly power.

a. Server Virtualization: Server virtualization allows multiple virtual servers to run on a single physical server, which reduces the overall number of physical servers needed. This consolidation leads to better resource utilization and energy savings, as idle or underutilized servers can be powered down.

b. Dynamic Power Management: Dynamic power management techniques involve adjusting the power usage of servers based on their workload. This can include putting idle servers into low-power states or dynamically scaling the number of active servers to match the demand, reducing energy consumption during periods of lower usage.

c. Hot/Cold Aisle Containment: Data centers can employ hot and cold aisle containment strategies to separate hot and cold air streams. This helps maintain the optimal operating temperature for servers, reducing the need for excessive cooling, which can be a significant source of energy consumption.

d. Solid-State Drives (SSDs): Replacing traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) with SSDs in servers can result in substantial energy savings. SSDs are more energy-efficient because they have no moving parts and use less power to access and store data.

e. Renewable Energy Sources: Data centers can reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy sources like solar, wind, or hydroelectric power. By sourcing electricity from green energy providers or installing on-site renewable energy systems, data centers can significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and lower their overall energy consumption.

4. Minimize E-Waste:

    • Recycle Electronics: Properly recycle old electronic devices and components to prevent e-waste. Many electronics retailers offer recycling programs.
    • Extend Lifespan: Maintain and upgrade your devices to extend their lifespan rather than constantly buying new ones.

5. Digital Consumption:

    • Stream Responsibly: Choose lower-quality streaming options when possible, as higher quality requires more data and energy.
    • Email Efficiency: Use email efficiently by avoiding unnecessary attachments and deleting old emails.
    • Digital Documents: Use digital documents instead of paper whenever possible, but also be mindful of file sizes and storage.

6. Reduce Internet Footprint:

    • Optimize Website Resources: If you own a website, optimize it for faster loading times and lower energy consumption.
    • Reduce size of images and video content without sacrificing quality on your website. Create policies going forward that designers, graphic artists, UX/UI, front and back-end developers must keep this in mind.
    • Use Efficient Browsing Habits: Avoid unnecessary web browsing and use browser extensions that block ads and trackers.

7. Support Sustainable Tech Companies:

    • Choose Sustainable Brands: Support companies that prioritize sustainability in their technology products and services.
    • Advocate for Change: Encourage tech companies to adopt eco-friendly practices and transparent sustainability reporting.

8. Renewable Energy: If your company has the means, consider powering your digital devices and assets with renewable energy sources such as solar or wind.

9. Digital Minimalism: Practice digital minimalism by decluttering your old digital files, reducing the number of stored files may surprise you in operational and cost efficiencies depending on the data you store.

10. Digital Ad Fraud: 25 to 50% of the traffic on social media platforms is not real. It's bots interacting with likes, comments, false click-throughs. This is a tremendous amount of energy wasted unnecessarily.

11. Advocate and Educate: Share the corporate knowledge and practices about digital sustainability with your community. Encourage others to adopt eco-friendly digital practices.

12. Monitor Your Carbon Footprint: Calculate your digital carbon footprint using online calculators, and take steps to offset or reduce it. Some organizations offer carbon offset programs.

13. Lobby for Policy Changes: Advocate for policies and regulations that promote sustainability in the tech industry and incentivize eco-friendly practices.  Shouldn’t carbon neutral or carbon negative (environmentally positives) companies reap the benefit of lower taxation? 

Remember that becoming digitally sustainable is an ongoing process. It involves making conscious choices in your digital habits and advocating for change on a larger scale. By starting to take these steps, you can contribute to a more environmentally friendly digital world.

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