How Does the Digital World Impact Environmental Sustainability?

June 1, 2021

Everyday scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs across the globe are devising new solutions to tackle climate change. From limiting carbon emissions to challenging deforestation, technology can be used to drive sustainability as a force for good.

On the other side of the coin, tech comes with its own set of environmental challenges. From greenhouse emissions to the fast-paced nature of gadget consumerism, technology isn’t always the pinnacle of sustainability we believe it to be.

Join us as we take a deep dive into the digital world and its impact on sustainability,  how businesses can make their difference to the world and the sustainable tech we love.

 

How Does Technology Aid Sustainability?

The move to a paperless world

On the daily, paper is discarded in homes and offices across the globe. In fact 26% of all waste in landfill is discarded paper and cardboard. Not only is it’s disposal unsustainable but so is its manufacturing. The production of paper contributes massively to greenhouse gases, water pollution and acid rain. However, with the rise in technology, data suggests we use a third less paper than the early 2000’s. Technological solutions eradicate the need for physical systems and help in reducing paper waste.

Energy-conserving smart technology

From conserving water usage in a home to using light more efficiently in an office building, smart tech uses artificial intelligence to shut off power to devices that aren’t being used. Experts predict a future of “smart cities”, which use smart tech to connect anything and everything from our vehicles and phones to household appliances.

Renewable energy sources

Energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind or tidal waves provide us an alternative to producing greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. This significantly reduces air pollution and is much better for the environment. Due to these revolutionary developments in science and technology, Carbon Dioxide emissions from energy are predicted to be completely eradicated by 2060.

Electric vehicles

Electric cars and vehicles are becoming increasingly common in recent years. This is due to the fact that they do not produce any carbon emissions and do not contribute to air pollution, which is better for us and the planet. Governments across the globe are incentivising the use of electric cars to help in reducing global warming.

 

What Impact Does Technology Have on Our Carbon Footprint?

CO2 emissions from the internet

Did you know that every time you make a Google search a few grams of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere? Internet data processing requires millions of data servers across the globe running on lots and lots of energy. The internet, our gadgets and the systems supporting them account for 3,7% of greenhouse gas emissions globally – that’s about the same as the entire airline industry.

Environmental waste

When we throw a mobile phone away after a couple of years of use, the likelihood is that it will end up in landfill. The lithium batteries in gadgets like mobile phones produce toxic emissions that are released into the environment. These emissions cause global warming, ecological toxicity, and are incredibly harmful to the soil and air. It is predicted that the EU only recycles 5% of lithium batteries suggesting that our fast-paced consumerism of mobile phones makes a huge impact on our planet. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the plastic and materials used to make gadgets that are left to rot in landfill sites around the world.

Resource depletion

On average, nearly 35 different materials are used in the manufacturing of one mobile phone. These materials derive from fossil fuels, and must be mined having an inconsequential effect on the environment.


 

What Can Businesses Do to Make a Difference?

Implement a culture from the top down

There’s nothing worse than an organisation who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. By educating employees and implementing policies that actually make a difference, a culture of sustainability is implemented into an organisation. With 20 of the world’s biggest firms producing 55% of plastic waste across the globe, corporations must do more to limit their carbon footprint.

Utilise fairtrade and shop local

I know it’s hard when profit margins are tight but wherever possible it is so important to shop small and utilise fairtrade. Big corporations contribute to global warming on a mass scale. Shopping small not only helps our communities and economy but it is a small change that makes a big difference to the environment. And, by consuming fairtrade products it is guaranteed that the impact of your purchasing isn’t harmful to the environment. To be classified as “fairtrade”, farmers must improve the quality of their soil, avoid using harmful chemicals and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Remember the three R’s

I know it might sound cliché, but keeping the three R’s in the back of your mind helps in maintaining sustainability – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. For instance, recycling old gadgets with charities like Oxfam, moving to an online filing system or repurposing old office furniture instead of just throwing it away. These small steps make a huge difference.

Speak out and learn from one another

No one is perfect, and we are big believers in conversing with those around you about issues like sustainability. We are all guilty of contributing to global warming but by speaking with one another openly we can all find small ways of cutting down in our daily lives.

 

Sustainable Tech we Love

Pawprint

Edinburgh-based startup Pawprint is a mobile application to help individuals limit their carbon footprint in their daily activities. The app shows you how much Co2 your actions emit every year (your pawprint) and it helps you to track your habits, showing you the impact small changes can have. The pawprint app is a great way for everyone to think more about their impact on the planet, and for businesses to empower their employees to fight climate change.

Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go is the number 1 anti-waste food app, allowing anyone to buy surplus foods from local stores and restaurants for a cut of the original price. We are big fans of the app, bagging ourselves low-cost delicious food on the regular whilst helping to save on food waste.

Ecosia

Ecosia is the revolutionary search engine which plants trees with every search. On average, every search removes 1kg of CO2 from the air. Ecosia is a great way to help the environment by making just a small change to your day-to-day life.

 

Technology as a Force for Good

At GearedApp, we believe that with the right tools and people we can use technology as a force for good, making our difference to the world. Sustainability is key to our mission and it’s important to us that our policies are environmentally friendly in everything we do.

By working together as a community we can make sustainable change for the future.

 

Choose Sustainability with GearedApp

Our friendly team of pros will be with you from our initial sit-down chat all the way to releasing the finished product. Discover our process to find out more about how we work.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help turn your awesome ideas into a digital reality.

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