Digital sustainability

Every click, stream, download and email creates a carbon footprint. 

Individuals, governments and businesses all adding to their digital carbon footprint every day.

Most people that come across this statement, simply don’t believe it as we are consistently using the internet and consistently driving digital transformation projects thinking that the consequences are much lower, which is true for the most part it is but in reality the internet and its ecosystem is the biggest man-made machine in the world and needs an incredible amount of energy to run representing roughly 10% of all electricity consumption which is predicted to double by 2025.

With this energy demand, it’s been estimated that the carbon footprint represents nearly 4% of carbon emissions globally and are nearly double that of the aviation industry. To put that in another context if the internet was a country it’d be the 4th highest polluter in the world – when we first started talking about this it was the 6th.

Whilst the aviation industry is under heavy scrutiny to reduce emissions and become Net Zero no such pressure exists within digital, IT and Internet industries.

Pair this with the exponential growth in dark data (which is data collected and never used) adding to the energy demand, lack of electrical recycling and this becomes a much bigger issue.

The most widely adopted definition of digital sustainability is “the process of applying social, economic, and environmental stewardship principles to digital products, services, and data delivered via the internet.”

At Aline, we build on this definition to focus on the environmental side to ensure that digital sustainability includes “measuring, reporting and lowering carbon emissions created by an organisations digital operations.” ensuring that digital emissions are brought in line with other sustainability efforts that an organisation has.

We have written about how using sustainable best practices can help in furthering efforts and how web design and design can be used as a gateway into digital sustainability.