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Four ‘green’ ways to use the internet

Woman on laptop outdoors

Four ‘green’ ways to use the internet

With last week’s highly concerning UN report urging that we have a little over a decade to prevent climate change chaos, ordinary people will no doubt be considering once more what they can do to play their part.

It seems like Western governments are not really taking a lead. Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement has been well-documented, Australia is refusing to back down on its heavy use of coal and UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove didn’t even bother to attend an international summit on climate change last week.

So, it seems like environmentally, individuals are having to come up with their own individual forms of action to tackle what could turn into a worldwide crisis. Much of the media focuses on plastic usage and fuel consumption, but our reliance on the internet and devices is another thing that is draining our planet’s resources.

With that in mind, here are four things you can do to keep your internet use as environmentally friendly as possible.

1. Don’t print emails!

It’s hard to believe that people still do this, but they do. You still see “do you really need to print this?” footers at the bottom of emails, and there remain people who have an archaic attitude of something only being worth reading if it’s printed on paper.

If not for the sake of the environment, it’s not good for your company’s bottom line to be using ink and paper for unnecessary printing. Only print an email if you need to show it to other people somewhere where an internet connection is not possible.

2. Use e-tickets

Tying in with the theme of not printing unnecessarily, next time you order a ticket for an event or journey online, check whether you actually need a printed ticket. It might be the case that an electronic ticket on your phone will do, thus saving on paper and ink, as well as the carbon emissions required to deliver a physical ticket to your door.

Yes, I know phones have a carbon footprint too, but the likelihood is you’ll have your phone with you and will be using it anyway.

3. Recycle computers and electronic devices

Another point to consider is the lifespan of the electronic equipment we use to access the internet. In particular, the rate at which we go through smartphones is having a major effect on the environment.

Many computers and other e-waste items end up in landfills, where they make up 70% of toxic metal waste. Simply binning these items shows little consideration for not only the planet, but your own cybersecurity too. There are plenty of schemes and organisations that can recover or recycle these goods.

4. Try Ecosia

Lastly, I’ve been mentioning the environmentally friendly search engine Ecosia quite a bit of late. I’ve been using it for about a fortnight now, and it’s fine. I’m not keen on its News facility, and the results are not always as UK-specific as with Google.co.uk, but on the whole it finds what I’m looking for, and if it can plant trees while doing so, all the better!

These small steps don’t really inconvenience us as internet users at all, but are an example of the minor eco-friendly contributions we can make, even if our politicians won’t!

John Murray

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