Zero Waste for the Internet

Our lives have become interwoven with the internet.

I was shocked when I first learned that the internet creates waste. I was used to thinking the only waste I was creating were items that I could physically put in the trash can. 

Even though the internet is not something that we can see and feel, it is still something that can create waste.

Internet waste includes electricity, water, land, and other resource use to store, move and share data. There is also solid waste to be considered, like broken or obsolete devices and accessories.

So, what can be done to reduce this waste?

Digital Sustainability

Digital Sustainability is a term that refers to using digital technologies and the Internet of Things that have a positive impact on the environment and support sustainable business operations.

The Internet of Things describes physical objects and technologies that connect networks and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet or other communication networks. 

It includes things such as:

  • Internet connected appliances.
  • Smart home security systems.
  • Autonomous farming equipment.
  • Wearable health monitors.
  • Smart factory equipment.
  • AI technologies
  • And many more technologies

Interest in digital sustainability is growing largely due to the fact that environmental concerns now drive many consumers’ buying decisions. In fact, 70% of US consumers now care about sustainability when purchasing a product.

88% say that they would be more loyal to a brand implementing sustainable practices.


How do we make the shift from where we are now to where we need to be?

It is not just about reducing our use of technology, but harnessing that technology to help reduce waste in many areas.

Companies have begun to use AI technologies to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint. They are getting insight on how to reduce their carbon footprints in areas of production and logistics, and are making upgrades to renewable energies.

AI can even help with the issue of traffic congestion, improve cargo transport, and help the development of self-driving cars.

Cloud computing is also being utilized to reduce the waste created by physical space and energy usage. COntinued use of these cloud systems can lead to the most efficient renewable energy consumption all thanks to digital sustainability.

What can you do?

There are many things that you can do to reduce your own personal Internet waste.

Think before you purchase- Try finding one gadget that does many things, instead of multiple gadgets.

Extend the life of the gadgets that you already own– Take proper care of your electronics. Purchase covers, and keep them clean and away from hazards. Reconsider buying the latest model if your current model is still working properly.

Research the companies you purchase from– Do they follow environmental standards? Look for products labeled Energy Star or certified by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).

Donate used electronics– There are many charities that will take your old electronics to help victims of domestic violence, child welfare, and other social and environmental programs.

Recycle electronics and batteries– Many towns have specific recycling guidelines for your electronics. The metals and some internal parts can be recycled if done properly.

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