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A Guide to Reducing Your Digital Carbon Footprint

Finding new ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint is key to lowering your day-to-day contribution to climate change. Collectively, our daily digital habits play a huge part in increasing carbon emissions, though understanding their sources makes it easy to limit in the future. 

The carbon footprint of our digital lives is an overlooked topic when it comes to energy and carbon efficiency, despite a whole chain of emissions associated with each digital activity. Every click, tap and scroll online, question searched, file shared, message sent, and photo saved uses servers in data centres and your device to receive the data. 

By cutting carbon at home and work with simple adjustments to our digital habits, we can help speed up the transition to lower-emission societies. 

10 tips to reduce your digital carbon footprint

Woman using a tablet

1. Keep your electronic devices for as long as possible

The fast-paced turnover of our electronics has created a culture of waste and a significant amount of carbon emissions. In 2023, over 1.3 billion smartphones were sold worldwide, with the average lifecycle being only 2-3 years. Additionally, only 15% of smartphones are recycled worldwide, putting to waste the carbon-intensive manufacturing and materials to make modern smartphones. 

Instead of getting a new laptop, tablet or smartphone every 2-3 years, why not keep your likely repairable and perfectly functional devices, especially if you have a long-lasting Fairphone. Or if you must change your electronics, why not save emissions and money by opting for a refurbished model? 

Young family reading a book together

2. Reduce the energy consumption of your electronic devices

The energy consumed by our devices is the key driver of carbon emissions associated with digital habits and activities. So, it's no surprise that energy is the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally, with as much as 75% of emissions originating from energy production. If we can reduce the amount of energy we use day-to-day, we can make a big difference collectively. 

How can our electronic devices consume less energy?

  • Close apps and tabs, and turn off location services when they aren't needed, as this uses unnecessary energy. 
  • Try to stick to one screen when working (unless your tasks demand two), as you'll save more energy and money. 
  • Reduce screen brightness and use dark modes for displays. Not only will you save energy but also reduce eye fatigue from blue light exposure. 
  • Do not use wireless chargers as they consume about 50% more energy than standard plug-in chargers.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the power of devices that aren't in use.
  • Reduce notifications for apps that you don't often use.

3. Switch to Climate Positive Broadband that reduces your CO2 monthly

Reduce your carbon footprint every month with climate-positive Broadband from Your Co-op. Every year, your carbon footprint can be reduced by 120kg, as each month your broadband will be sending funding to our partners Ecologi, who action carbon reduction projects around the world. While you're enjoying reliably fast speeds at home, your simple switch is also helping to mitigate climate change.

Find out more about your simple switch to Your Co-op Broadband.

tree sapling


Trees planted

wind turbines


Tonnes of carbon reduction

Woman using a laptop

4. Switch your search engine to Ecosia

By switching to using Ecosia to search the web, you are using a search engine that is 100% renewable-powered and every search plants a tree to help future decarbonisation. Ecosia claims that if they had the scale and search volume of Google, they would be able to absorb 15% of all global CO2 emissions. An easy way of reducing your digital carbon footprint each day that also plants trees! 

Woman using her phone in bed

5. Don't leave devices plugged in for longer than they need

Keeping your devices on charge after the battery is full can gradually degrade your battery and increase energy consumption. That means overnight charging should always be avoided. Instead, charge it before bed and turn on airplane mode until the morning, this will help reduce your battery dipping overnight. 

Man watching videos on his phone

6. Turn off auto-play and background videos

In the last 10 years, video streaming to mobile devices, computers and TVs has been one of the largest contributors to digital carbon footprint growth. If you can limit the minutes and hours you watch and stop auto-play or unnecessary background videos, then you can certainly help minimise your digital carbon footprint.

Business woman using her computer

7. Move data to the cloud with a provider that uses renewable energy

A great solution for expanding your storage that also reduces your digital carbon footprint is a cloud-based service. What's more, all the major providers of cloud storage, such as Apple, Google, and Salesforce are all committed to powering their data centres with 100% renewable energy by 2030. 

Using social medias on her phone

8. Save bookmarks and favourite websites you regularly visit

Searching for sites you could save in a list on your browser can not only save carbon emissions, but time spent on your devices too. This is also true for searching and logging into social media websites that you can have an app for on your devices. Saving websites and having dedicated apps means that servers in data centres aren't being relied on so heavily for our digital activity.

Man using his mobile listening to music

9. Download or go analogue instead of streaming music

Try downloading music you listen to regularly, so you aren't relying on data servers relaying the audio to your device. When you're at home or in the car, try using CDs or even Vinyl records, which are both low energy consuming platforms for audio. You may be thinking that music streaming cut out the plastic production of albums, which in itself is carbon intensive, however, it has actually had a net increase effect on carbon emissions because of the digital streaming process. 

Woman checking her emails

10. Limit your Email usage

We all send and receive plenty of emails every day, but they are secretly a major source of CO2 emissions. In the UK, 33,200 tonnes of Carbon dioxide are produced daily due to emails being sent and received, but there are changes we can all make to lower this figure.

How to reduce the digital carbon footprint of your emails?

  • Don't reply-all unless it's necessary. 
  • Clear out emails that you don't need to keep in your inbox.
  • Link to online files instead of attaching whole documents to emails, this will reduce the data size of emails. 
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters from businesses.