Digital pollution: How to benefit from technology in an environmentally conscious way?

Jul 2, 2022 · 4 min de lectura

Digital pollution: How to benefit from technology in an environmentally conscious way?

In the midst of the digital era, the planet's way of life virtually depends on the technological resources available, to the point that it is difficult to imagine a world without technology.

This massive industry that encompasses all things digital, and which is growing at an overwhelming pace, has an impact on the environment, and although the so-called "digital pollution" is not perceptible to the naked eye, it has and will continue to have tangible and often irreversible consequences.

Unión Atlántica needs technology to boost the digital presence of our customers and partners; that is why we are interested in finding out what we can do to reduce the environmental footprint this generates.

How does the digital sector impact the environment?

  • The production of hardware is highly polluting and consumes many natural resources, including non-renewable resources. The manufacture of any electronic device consumes much energy and emits a considerable amount of CO2 (e.g., the manufacture of a computer generates 350 kg of CO2).

  • Moreover, as this hardware becomes obsolete faster and faster, large amounts of waste are being generated that are not biodegradable and contain elements that are toxic to the environment and to humans.

  • The huge energy consumption by electronics and telecommunications industries produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, comparable to the air transport industry. What's worse, it is advancing very rapidly and by 2040 could generate more than 60% of greenhouse gases worldwide.

  • In order to read this article, we are using a digital device that consumes electricity. To make use of digital technology, between 7 and 10% of the world's electricity is used, a number that has risen almost 70% between 2013 and 2020.

  • Another example is the blockchain, now booming, which runs on the energy of thousands of computer servers. In addition, server farms (or the "mining" of cryptocurrencies) are literally energy guzzlers.

Big and small actions to reduce digital pollution:

  • Turn off electronic devices when not in use and limit the use of functions such as bluetooth or GPS.

  • Streaming is one of the most polluting aspects of the digital world. Downloading videos instead of streaming, as well as disabling autoplay on platforms like YouTube, is a great help.

  • Deleting 30 emails can save the energy equivalent of a light bulb all day, so clean your inbox! Also, reducing the number of attachments is also an important contribution.

  • Believe it or not, reducing the number of tabs we have open on the computer also helps.

  • Whenever possible, use reconditioned equipment instead of new equipment to extend its useful life and reduce wasteful manufacturing.

From prioritizing the quality of our digital content over quantity/frequency to considering the size of images on the websites we manage, Unión Atlántica takes actions that, as small as they may seem, have a positive, significant and representative impact on our ecological awareness.