Digital is now ubiquitous in our daily lives, both professional and personal. But this technological revolution also has a harmful impact on the environment, with increasing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and ever-increasing production of electronic waste. Green IT, or green computing, has become a major issue for companies and individuals concerned with reducing their carbon footprint.
1. Increase the lifespan of IT equipment
The first lever to act effectively in a Green IT dynamic concerns the obsolescence of IT devices.
Reducing the number of connected devices in circulation is the first solution, given the “carbon weight” of their manufacture. To achieve this, opting for equipment that has a longer lifespan than what exists on the market is essential. It also involves avoiding the compulsive purchase of connected gadgets without real need.
Another way to extend the life of the equipment is to favour the purchase of reconditioned equipment. Refurbished equipment is now a booming market. Sites such as Back Market now offer many high-performance second-hand products.
Finally, showing a preference for easily repairable devices is also a good way to do Green IT. In this respect, a product like the Fairphone is an example and shows that an economical and reasoned development is possible for digital objects. This is also the point of the recent anti-waste law, which aims to make it mandatory to display a repairability index on all Tech products.
2. Adopt a reasoned purchasing policy through reuse and recycling
Within organizations, adopting an ambitious and virtuous purchasing policy reduces the impact of digital technology on climate change. This is due to the scale effect; an entity’s purchasing policy is generalized to all its activities.
Thus, a purchasing policy that focuses on and encourages the reuse or recycling of IT equipment is fully in line with a Green IT approach. Users are encouraged not to throw away equipment that appears to be dysfunctional and to check that it is not possible to repair it.
If it is impossible to reuse a piece of equipment and it must be replaced, preference should be given to durable equipment for which there is an effective recycling channel.
In addition, manufacturers are increasingly asked (legally or not) to maintain older versions for as long as possible to prevent consumers from buying new ones.
3. Prioritize energy-efficient equipment
Another possible way to make Green IT: choose equipment that has proven its moderate energy consumption. As we know, energy consumption is a factor in aggravating global warming, particularly with regard to digital technology, which is increasingly energy-intensive.
Using materials that consume little energy considerably reduces the carbon footprint. Identifying “good students” products is not always easy. For this, more and more labels and certifications make a choice easier by objectively evaluating the actual consumption of the equipment for sale. We can mention the Energy Star certification, a pioneer in the field.
4. Choose an ecological web hosting
Evaluating the environmental commitment of web hosts is a good solution to promote Green IT measures. When subscribing or renewing hosting with your host, it is worth checking the green measures put in place by the latter.
A virtuous and quality web hosting must operate its data centres using renewable energy sources. In addition, committed hosts generally resort to reducing the energy consumption of their data centres.
Finally, a last element concerns relocating its hosting to servers. This practice has the merit of killing two birds with one stone: getting closer to the host and mainly using carbon-free electricity thanks to nuclear power.
5. Promote mobility at work
Another way to improve environmental considerations at work is to question work organization. Technology remains, at present, impacting the climate, but the question to be asked is how best to organize work to limit the impact of digital activities.
Thus, teleworking provides a viable answer: it makes it possible to work remotely and drastically reduces vehicle travel.
6. Use an ecological search engine
We think less about it, but using a search engine multiplied by the number of users in the world significantly impacts energy consumption.
In this area, more ethical and eco-responsible alternatives exist to the giants that dominate the market (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Ecosia, Lilo, and Ecogine are search engines that highlight their environmental, social and solidarity commitment.
Other search engines like the French Qwant focus their development not on the environmental issue but on the protection of user data.
Using an eco-responsible search engine has a significant advantage: it allows everyone to act at their level against climate change by improving their carbon impact. For a company, using such a search engine fits directly (and in a few clicks) into a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy.
Browsing on the eco-responsible web requires a change of habit, and it is possible to go even further by adopting these three eco-gestures:
Use specific keywords to limit the solicitation of servers.
Prioritize the internal navigation of a site via research rather than a search engine.
Mention the site URL directly in the address bar and save the sites consulted regularly in their “favourites”.
7. Adopt good digital practices
A certain number of small ecological gestures can, combined, work miracles:
Set up deletion filters on your email to avoid keeping emails (which consume many resources).
- Turn off computer equipment rather than leave it on standby.
- Limit the weight of documents sent by email by compressing them.
- Do not duplicate large files and prefer using a shared folder between several users.
- Limit unnecessary email exchanges.
The harmful impact of digital technology on climate change is not inevitable. As we have seen, gestures, actions, awareness and policies invite us to adapt our behaviour.