As more of our work, entertainment, and free time is spent on the internet, the environmental impact of our digital lives is adding up. With streaming of albums and concerts becoming a bigger part of how we consume music, we have an opportunity as a community to create real change. Learn how you can start reducing your digital footprint today.
The Invisible Impact of Digital Actions
Everything we do on the internet has a climate impact. From sending emails to streaming movies and songs, our virtual actions have real world consequences. The Earth Institute estimates that given the current growth of the internet of things, information technology is expected to generate 14% of total global greenhouse gas emissions and consume 1/5 of global electricity.
While the internet dates back to 1983, it’s still the early days in terms of determining its true impact on the environment. There have been several recent claims around the climate effects of new technologies and the infrastructure that supports them, but hard number are difficult to nail down. We are keeping an eye on the issue and will update this section of Music Climate Revolution accordingly.
One thing is for sure, our digital world impacts the real one, so check out the actions below that help you reduce your digital footprint.
Download vs. Stream: Each time a song is streamed, that file is pulled off of a data server, pushed through the network and sent to your device. So look at a playlist as just multiple trips from the data center to your device (and each of these trips have a carbon footprint). If you can, try to download that music over streaming it to avoid all of the data back and forth – according to The Conversation, streaming a song +27 times might be as harmful as producing and playing a CD!
Downgrade Streaming Quality: lowering the quality of the stream from 4k to HD or HD to SD can help reduce the streams carbon footprint – potentially even by 5%. Do we really need 4K files playing on our phones?
More Sustainable Internet
Get rid of unnecessary emails/accounts: subscription emails (that you don’t even read) and having open accounts can clog up your inbox and create unneeded data transfers on line
Use a Virtual Private Network: whether you like it or not, your ISP is tracking your internet usage (which is stored on their servers). A VPN will encrypt all of your data that goes in and out of your device making it impossible for your ISP to track
Calculate the carbon emissions from your website and take actions to improve it
Swap your internet search engine: Ecosia uses ad revenue to plant 125mil trees and it’s powered by clean renewable energy.
Commit to slow down your upgrades: According Mossy Earth, 80% of the carbon footprint of a smartphone occurs during production and Treehugger notes that 2 in 10 consumers had cell phones which weren’t being used and that the average American upgraded their phone 3-4 years before it was necessary.
Recycle your phones – According to Tech Dump, Americans throw away 416,000 cell phones every day or 151.8 million phones in one year, making cell phones the rapidly growing form of e-waste. Instead of putting your phones in landfills, here are some unique ways to donate your old devices: