How your Digital Detox Could Save the Planet #COP26

save the planet with a digital detox

29 Oct How your Digital Detox Could Save the Planet #COP26

  1. How your Digital Detox Could Save the Planet #COP26
  2. When we put down our phones and connect with nature, it’s not just good for the planet #COP26
  3. The carbon cost of our digital habits #COP26

With 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) on the horizon, being held in our back garden here in the UK, in Glasgow, many of us are reinvigorated in our desire to cut our carbon emissions. Perhaps you are researching electric cars, bikes, insulation, or a vegan diet? Well we have one more way to help you save the planet, at no cost, whilst maintaining your digital wellbeing at the same time- win win. You just need to turn off your devices once in a while.

There’s a carbon impact from digital activity

If you didn’t realise it already, using your devices has an impact on your carbon footprint. We have to charge them, run WiFi systems, hard drives and more, and all has an impact on the electricity bill and the power each of us uses daily. To put it into perceptive: each email you send costs around 4g of carbon, if it has a photo attached that could go up to 50g. Now think about how many emails, texts, WhatsApps, DMs, and memes you send a day: over the course of a year that adds up.

Sending 65 emails is roughly equivalent to driving 1km in a car

The world’s email usage generates as much CO2 as having an extra seven million cars on the roads.

BBC Science focus

eWaste is a growing problem

But it isn’t just our digital activity which has an environmental impact, there’s an impact from the devices themselves. In Britain alone we buy 1.65 million tonnes of electrical devices each year with 500,000 tonnes of waste electricals thrown away, stolen or illegally exported annually. Each of us has a tech-drawer at home, full of old phones, tablets, laptops etc that we don’t know what to do with. That collection of devices is costing the planet dearly as we constantly update to the latest models of smartphones, tablets and laptops and fail to fix our old ones.

How can we reduce our carbon impact?

The first and most obvious solution is to cut down on screen time. Our founder, Tanya Goodin, recently spoke about the workplace app Slack, describing its negative effects on our mental health and the impact it has on our ability to work effectively. Instead she recommended phone calls, limiting information to infrequent emails and even going to speak to a colleague in real life. As we return to the office this is becoming more and more feasible and face to face chats will stop you sending emails and cut down Slack (or similar) spam, give you a change to stretch your legs, and give both parties some time off screen. At home, instead of spending your time on your device why not pick up a new hobby? You could get back into reading or crafting or just get outside again after a long day at work. There are so many options, and each one of them will help save the planet if you cut down on time on your devices doing it.

save the planet with a digital detox

Learn how to fix it

Unfortunately there is no world where we can just switch off our devices and eliminate our digital environmental impact completely to help save the planet. So we have two other tips to help mitigate the impact when you are online: the first is to use the iFixit community and all their tools. In our podcast It’s Complicated, we talked to iFixit about how hard it is to fix our devices and the need for constant upgrades and they provided solutions: from ways to dispose of your goods more safely to kits to fix your phone yourself and tips and tricks to keep it running longer, they will all help you stop adding to your tech junk drawer.

Carbon offset your digital activity to save the planet

Finally, look into carbon offsetting: you can find out how much your use of your device costs the planet and then pay offset the costs by planting trees or similar carbon reducing practices. Alternatively you could use a carbon-negative phone plan such as the one offered by Honest Mobile so that your phone use at least is not hurting the planet.

`My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open' Tanya Goodin

If you want to learn more about how to switch off, and the many other ways in which our bad digital habits are impacting our lives – and how to fix them – you can read more in Tanya Goodin’s new book: ‘My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open’.

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