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Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Start with a digital declutter

4 min read

Whether in the office at a computer or the field with our smartphones, technology around the farm is important and useful. It also consumes a lot of electricity.

With some experts saying the information technology sector has a carbon footprint the size of the airline industry, it’s time to check in on ways to be more energy efficient on the farm. The website, DigitalCleanUpDay.org has many practical, straightforward ways to increase IT energy efficiency.

Decluttering your office

Here are five simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint in your office.

1. Review your cloud storage and email folders

If all your files, including photographs, are automatically saved or backed up to your cloud storage — whether it’s OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, Amazon Photos or something else — have a look through the files every few months.

Start by sorting the files by date, oldest to newest, and delete any outdated or duplicate files. Or sort the files by size, review the largest files and consider whether you need to keep them.

With email, create folders or categories and set up rules for incoming email so it’s sorted to the appropriate folder or category when it arrives in your inbox. If you’re working on a project, perhaps a barn renovation or negotiations for a land rental — and set up a folder just for that, review the email once the project is complete, save the pertinent correspondence for records — and delete the rest of the email.

2. Take out the trash

Now that you’ve deleted and purged, don’t forget to take out the trash. Empty trash folders; otherwise, you’re just moving files from one folder to another.

Deleting unused or duplicate files helps clear cloud storage servers of space and reduce the electricity required to operate the servers.

3. Delete mindfully

Do you still get emails about subjects you’re no longer interested in? Is your inbox overrun with advertisements you never read?

Maybe you raised livestock but are now a crop-only operation, or you were equipment shopping and made your purchase already. Rather than simply deleting these, click the unsubscribe button – it’s usually found near the bottom of the email.

According to the French Agency for Ecological Transition, one email emits an average of four grams of carbon dioxide. That’s equal to the carbon footprint of a low-energy light bulb turned on for six minutes. An email with a large attachment can release up to 35 grams of carbon dioxide.

4. Close unused email accounts

Deleting the old email accounts conserves energy output required for maintenance.

Don’t just abandon your old email addresses. Instead, close or delete the accounts. The method varies depending on the account, so do an internet search to find instructions on permanently closing the account. If you don’t want to get rid of the old account, clean up and empty the old email.

Deleting the old email accounts conserves energy output required for maintenance.

5. Reduce open browser tabs

Do you need to have multiple browser tabs open all day? While some operating systems put open browsers to sleep as an energy-saver, not all do. Browsers running in the background take additional electricity, so closing them down when not in use is another step to reduce your carbon footprint.

Decluttering your smartphone

Smartphones are common in today’s agricultural world. As well as using them for phone calls and messages, farming apps bring us the weather, help identify disease and pests, track locations and help manage costs on the fly. Smartphones can also increase our carbon footprint with their energy use. Here are five ways to reduce that impact.

1. Delete the copies

How often do we take multiple photographs of a single insect for a pest identification app or a broken equipment component to send to the parts dealer for replacement? It’s easy to shoot many photographs to get the right angle or lighting. But we usually just need one image. Delete the rest because they are taking up space on your phone and in your cloud, increasing electricity usage for maintenance.

2. Ditch the unused apps

Do an occasional review of the apps on your Smartphone and get rid of any you aren’t using. Some experts estimate that the average Smartphone user has 13 unused apps. Background updates add to your carbon footprint by transmitting data and using electricity.

3. Check your settings

Communication devices like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp are common to keep in touch with colleagues in the field easily. Check the settings on these communication apps and turn off the automatic archive function as needed. It’s another example of additional electricity and energy output for digital maintenance.

4. Ditch the doom-scrolling

Doomscrolling and doom-surfing describe the tendency to scroll through social media and news feeds constantly. It is not only unproductive, but the data transfer and electricity each new video, reel or story uses to load onto your phone adds to your carbon footprint.

5. Unplug

Whether it’s scheduled breaks with your family, enjoying the peacefulness of seeding or trips to the gym – consider turning your phone off and leaving it in the glove box.

By implementing mindful practices into our lives, we can reduce our carbon footprint in many effective yet easy ways.

Article by: Allison Finnamore

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