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  • Writer's pictureaakanksha singh

Your Social Media Habits Are Harming the Planet. Here's How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

As the morning sun rises, most of us have already indulged in our daily routine of checking Instagram, browsing Twitter, and scrolling through TikTok. Little do we realise that these seemingly innocent activities silently contribute to a severe climate crisis.

In this blog post, I will look into the often-overlooked environmental impact of social media usage, exploring how platforms and online behaviours contribute to carbon emissions while offering potential solutions to mitigate this pressing issue.



The Environmental Toll of Social Media


Each time we access our social media accounts, energy primarily generated by fossil fuels is consumed, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions. A new analysis by market research firm Compare the Market highlights that social media usage contributes to the climate crisis. While social media platforms aren't directly damaging the planet, the research emphasises the reliance on fossil fuels and the urgent need for transition to renewable energy sources.


The Carbon Footprint of Social Media Activities


It may seem far-fetched that simple actions like liking, commenting, and posting contribute to internet pollution. However, the energy-intensive nature of internet usage is the root cause. Data centres and servers that support high-speed internet connections demand significant energy consumption. Data centres account for around 0.8% of global electricity demand globally, equivalent to 200 terawatt-hours. Additionally, the disposal of electronic waste from frequent smartphone upgrades contributes to environmental pollution.


Carbon Impact of Social Media Applications


A study by Global Web Index in July 2021 reveals that the average time spent on social networks is approximately 2 hours and 24 minutes per day. When projecting the average carbon impact per user, the annual carbon emissions generated by mobile social media users amount to a staggering 262 million tons of EqCO2, equivalent to 0.61% of the world's EqCO2 impacts in 2019.

Source: Greenspector


Data exchange from social media applications highlights significant variances, with platforms like Reddit consuming 32 times more data than the Youtube app.


Addressing the Issue


On a positive note, social media platforms have become important hubs for sharing climate information and fostering climate action. Tech companies, including Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram), have taken steps to secure renewable energy for their operations. However, individual usage still contributes to the overall carbon footprint. To combat this issue effectively, countries must phase out fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy sources.


Individual Actions


To reduce our carbon footprint, we can opt for environmentally-friendly practices like sending text messages instead of media-rich communications on platforms like WhatsApp.


Streaming videos over Wi-Fi. Rather than mobile data can significantly reduce energy consumption.


Watch videos of lower quality. When you watch videos of higher quality, your phone uses more energy to process the video. Watching videos of lower quality can help you save energy.


Choose an eco-friendly social media platform. Some social media platforms are more energy-efficient than others. Choose platforms that are committed to sustainability.


Use social media less. This is the most important thing you can do. The less time you spend on social media, the less energy you'll use.



Conclusion


Amid our daily social media rituals, we often fail to recognise the hidden carbon footprint accompanying our online presence. However, by acknowledging the impact of social media usage on the climate crisis, we can take meaningful action to address this issue. From encouraging renewable energy investments to adopting sustainable online habits, each individual has the power to make a difference. Let us embrace a more conscious approach to social media and harness its potential as a tool for sharing climate knowledge and inspiring positive change. Doing so can pave the way for a greener, more sustainable digital future.


As we embark on this journey, let us remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi: "The future depends on what we do today." It is time to transform our social media habits and ensure that our digital footprint aligns with the well-being of our planet.


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