DIGITAL GREEN PRACTICE DATABASE HOW CAN WE IMPROVE OUR DIGITAL ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT?
There is a wealth of different hosting services, however only a few companies have adopted conscious principles like hosting with renewable energy or providing high social standards for their employees. The Green Web Foundation offers a preliminary directory of green web service hosts.
Public procurement calls for digital services (e.g., development of a public app) should include mandatory eco-design criteria. Potential examples of these principles could be:
Apps and other software are now the key factors that cause hardware like smartphones or computers to become obsolete. Opening up the source code may highly extend the lifespan of certain hardware products and digital services. Concrete examples of eco-designed products and services are plentiful and constantly evolving. Have a look of some examples.
Software programs can be more or less energy and resource efficient while active or on standby. Eco-friendly labels like Blauer Engel are now establishing clear criteria for software based on energy-efficiency, general resource-usage and API transparency.
Standard office tasks (like emails, word processing, online research, etc.) only use a tiny portion of the overall computational power of your computer. In that sense, a significant percentage of our resources are not being used efficiently. Knowing that most professional hardware will be replaced after just a couple of years, we can be more socially and ecologically responsible by making more efficient use of our devices. Projects like BOINC developed by the Berkley University, put your computer’s idle computational capacity to work by performing calculations for scientific research projects like fighting cancer or climate change. In this way, computers all over the world are being linked to form super-computers, offering free computational time for researchers. Similar projects exist for mobile phones, such as the Dreamlab app.
External communication with inhabitants, customers, etc. is conducted via websites, newsletters and emails. Optimising these communication methods (e.g. reducing image quality) should be a high priority for every marketing department.
Avoid sending working documents as email attachments. Instead, share the access link for these documents, which are either stored on your local server or in a web-based cloud. Sending emails with attachments to one or multiple recipients is the least energy-efficient option.
Install one common device like an internet router or tv box for the use of all residents. Opting for better quality equipment or service would aid in the user experience and both the ecological and economic gain would be significant. You could take it a step further by sharing common hardware like printers, scanners, video projectors and playing consoles. Installations of this kind could become mandatory for every newly built apartment unit.
The ecological footprint of the manufacturing process of flat screens is disastrous. Furthermore, the trend of constantly increasing size and screen resolution is not compensated by the improved energy efficiency of these screens. Small and highly performant LED projectors may offer a fantastic alternative to flat screens.
Some computers, phones and computer accessories (mice, keyboards, etc.) are more energy efficient than others. A brief overview of the most common energy labels can be found here. Consider replacing your computer mouse at the end of its life with a greener alternative like the Fair Mouse (nager-it.de) or opting for a more socially conscious smartphone, like the Shiftphone or the Fairphone.
Surprisingly, stores of unused equipment like desktop computers can be found in the basements of schools, associations and some administrations. Municipalities may coordinate an inventory database and organise the re-use of these devices.
Associations, clubs and schools often purchase their own hardware, like computers and printers, software and servers. Many of these products are inefficient for the individual users and resources are being wasted. Municipalities could coordinate a common purchasing or leasing agreement of hardware and software to be shared by all institutions.
Companies and some public bodies often lease their hardware and software for a predetermined amount of time. It would be beneficial to negotiate dynamic leasing plans in order to periodically exchange unused hardware and software instead of renewing the entire equipment. If this flexible solution is not an option, extending the initial leasing offer by one or two years can save a significant number of resources.
Data transmitted via 4G requires 5-20 times more energy than transmission via ADSL +WIFI. Furthermore, ethernet cables are more efficient than data being transferred via WIFI.
Some computer hardware such as keyboards, scanners, printers and soundcards are much easier to repair than others. It’s worth researching the reparability of a given product before making a purchase. Specialised websites like ifixit.com provide practical and useful guidance. Public and private actors can encourage the creation of regular repair cafes.
Hardware like modems, computers, printers, etc. should be completely turned off when not in use, and not merely set to sleeping mode.
Not simply deleting but fully unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters should become a commonplace habit for every email user. The overall quantity of newsletters received per user will have a direct impact on the data required to send them out.
There are many apps that offer comparable services. So why not prioritise apps that run on renewable energy? An inventory of such apps can be found here: clickclean.org.
The ecological footprint of visual streaming services (videos) can be instantly improved by downscaling the quality. Ultra-HD or similar is not always necessary and can be adapted in the default streaming settings.
Environmentally conscious search engines like Ecosia compensate the carbon footprint of every web search by planting trees. Ecosia is a leader in developing new “company ownership models,” which prevent the company’s mission and financial benefits from being misused, sold or modified by any investors, board members or others.
Unused programs and apps are still using resources. Backups are unnecessarily increased and these apps could potentially slow down your computer. Closing or even uninstalling these apps and programs should systematically be done
Municipalities can play an important role in bringing together local tech enthusiasts and nature conservation volunteers by organising meetings, workshops and hackathons. Both citizen science and established scientific monitoring programs (e.g., bat counting) operated at the local level could upgrade their impact considerably by teaming up around specific projects. Furthermore, linking these results on a global level could enhance the scientific understanding of certain phenomena. Intersecting science and conservation by providing meeting, exchange and support platforms could unlock interesting and impactful synergies. Have a look at these great examples.
Help support our Grénge Web initiative by implementing one or more of these ecological practices. We will be glad to help you in any way we are able.
Useful tools for improving your digital ecological footprint: