On this Earth hour of 2020, me and Guillem Espias worked on a shared blog post to remind all fellow digital designers that our work, our efforts impact the earth and all life on it, because everything we do (also in digital) has a carbon footprint.
If we want to reduce that footprint as individuals in the real world, many ideas might come to our minds. We live on a planet with limited resources, so finding better ways to make a more efficient and sustainable impact on the environment might seem obvious to us.
Surprisingly, there is very little awareness of the carbon footprint impact in the digital world. It might seem that we live in a limitless space where anything, no matter the size, can be created with zero consequences for our planet. Digital pollution has no smell, no colour, but it very much exists.
It’s possible, nonetheless, to grasp the limitations when we take a closer look at where billions of bits of information we use and share are hosted. Not surprisingly, hosting on physical servers (made of physical materials) use large amounts of energy to run and especially, to keep them cooled.
The Internet uses more than 10% of the world’s electricity. That is more than the national energy consumption of many countries and most of this energy comes from non-renewable sources. This percentage will only grow and grow as we get into the third industrial revolution while at the same time increasing digital waste in large amounts. It must be noted that more than 75% of websites today are not active. Is there anything we as digital designers can do about it? The answer is a bold YES, and more than we might think.
The following infographic provides some everyday actions we can do in order to design more sustainably and in this way reduce our carbon footprint. Hopefully, you will see that design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. Power to choose. Power to influence.
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