Do you actually know how to surf the internet sustainably can? Admittedly - this is a question that only very few people ask themselves. Only it is also clear that every necessary search query, every fun online game and every romantic movie on a streaming platform consumes energy. IT companies need to develop more efficient data centers, true! But we can also act sustainably in our everyday use of the Internet.
In this article, I would like to give you some valuable tips so that you can surf the Internet more consciously and sustainably in the future. From search behavior to your email provider to the ideal screen size. Let's go!
TipDo you plan to live more sustainably? Then be sure to also check out my post with the best Tips for a sustainable everyday life an.
Why is sustainability necessary on the Internet?
The climate change is certainly the biggest environmental problem of our time - a problem that brings with it further problems. The increasing energy consumption of the growing world population, however, makes the fight against global warming more difficult.
To ensure that our society is as sustainable as possible on the Internet in the long term, both IT companies and we users must work together. Here are some facts that make it necessary to learn more about greener web surfing:
- Google's server farms consume enormous resources. On average, a single search query consumes 0.0003 kilowatts. Each individual Google user could power a 60-watt light bulb for three hours with his or her monthly search queries alone.₁
- Digital technology now accounts for 3.7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. By comparison, civil aviation accounted for just 2 percent of emissions in 2018.₂
- In 2015, servers in Germany consumed around 7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity for operation alone, plus another 5 billion kilowatt hours for the necessary cooling. The resulting CO2-emissions amounted to around 6 million metric tons. This corresponded to around 0.7 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Germany in 2015.₃
- Experts expect the energy demand of servers to increase by 60 percent between the years 2015 to 2025.₄
Tip: How would it be if you could also professionally ensure more sustainability on the Internet? At sustainable job portal you can find job postings in the IT area of environmentally conscious companies, for example. Or how about studying environmental informatics? You can find out more about this in the detailed article on sustainable courses.
14 tips for more sustainable surfing on the Internet
Now you know why a sustainable use of the Internet is also important for the solution of many Environmental problems of our time is. That's why we're now getting down to the nitty-gritty. In the following, I'll show you my best tips for surfing the Internet sustainably.
1. use sustainable search engine
Search queries consume energy, which is why it is fundamentally sustainable and sensible to make as few as possible. However, search engines are an integral part of our everyday lives. Google is the largest user of renewable energy, but there are even more sustainable search engines.
Tip: Switch to a sustainable search engine. With the Ecosia search engine, for example, more than 50 million trees have already been planted through users' search queries.
2. avoid browser and voice search
Both browser searches and searches with voice assistants such as Siri, Cortana or Alexa require additional energy and computing power. This relatively unnecessary energy consumption can be saved by visiting a website directly or entering the search terms independently.
Tip: In the future go directly to www.careelite.de instead of typing "careelite de" or "careelite" into the search navigation bar of your browser. And use the Google text box to get answers to your questions.
3. send download links rather than large files
For example, if you want to send your long bachelor thesis to your friends for proofreading, it is much more sustainable to do it with a download link than by e-mail. Sending the file requires storage space in the email program and, depending on the recipient, still has to be uploaded and saved on the server of another email provider.
Tip: Send a download link from your cloud rather than large files. This saves energy, storage and processing power, as they only need to be uploaded once and downloaded once.
4. use green electricity at your home
Every day we use electrical devices to surf the Internet - but hardly anyone thinks about where the electricity for this actually comes from. For truly sustainable Internet surfing, it should definitely come from renewable energies such as wind, solar or hydropower.
Tip: Find a Green electricity-The company is a provider that focuses on sustainable energy sources in a holistic manner (and not just with a single tariff).
5. delete unused accounts and subscriptions
Everyone has a few redundant accounts on social networks or email providers, and maybe a newsletter subscription with emails that just get deleted anyway.
Tip: Delete all inactive accounts that you no longer need. And unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters. This saves energy and helps you with a clear inbox, still live more minimalist.
6. use web hoster & cloud provider with green power base
Do you have your own website or are you planning one? In any case, you need a web hoster. Make sure that they run their servers on the basis of renewable energy. The servers on which CareElite.de is located, for example, are 100% supplied with energy from hydropower. You can also look for sustainability in cloud providers.
Tip: Sign up with an eco-conscious web host and cloud provider so you can surf the web more sustainably in the future.
Notice: If you want to start your own online project, you will get more information in the article about sustainable foundation many more tips.
7. reduce use of streaming services
Those who like to watch series, documentaries or movies on Netflix and enjoy music on online services like Spotify probably don't like to hear that. But in fact, around three quarters of the average data volume used on the Internet is attributable to the use of streaming services.₅
Tip: Use content from the Internet offline more often. For example, download favorite songs that you listen to more often. This saves streaming and makes your use of the Internet even more sustainable.
Notice: Don't worry. This doesn't mean you should never stream entertainment media again. Even a more conscious and reduced use of streaming services will make your behavior on the Internet much more sustainable.
8. turn off computer, laptop and smartphone
Electrical appliances consume electricity - even if they are only in standby mode. And by now, every German has more than one device at home. From laptops and smartphones to power strips - it's more sustainable to switch them off completely.
Tip: By switching off computers and the like, you save energy and can also sleep better.
9. switch off WLAN router at night
Is it really necessary to use electricity around the clock for your Internet connection? That's a fair question - after all, you rarely go online at night anyway.
Tip: Just turn off your router when you go to sleep - and turn it back on when you get up.
10. reconsider new laptop purchase
Of course, it's especially sustainable if you have your laptop repaired when it's no longer functional. If absolutely nothing else works - then you should dispose of it professionally and prefer to buy second-hand to save natural resources.
Tip: When buying a laptop, make sure that it is only as powerful as it should be for your personal purposes. For example, if you're not a gamer or graphic artist, you usually don't need an overly powerful graphics card.
11. prefer green email providers
Of course, there are also sustainable email providers that allow you to send and receive emails in an environmentally friendly way. Sustainable email providers manage the energy requirements of their data centers with green electricity or offset the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
Tip: When choosing your e-mail provider, look for the label for green electricity and compensation payments, for example.
12. dispose of electrical appliances properly
Old electrical devices do not belong in the household waste and certainly not on the side of the road - unfortunately, this can be observed time and again. If your old computer is really irreparable, there are more sustainable ways to dispose of it.
Tip: If repairing them doesn't help anymore, dispose of them at wholesalers who sell electrical appliances - or at the recycling center: The way is often a bit further, but there you can Dispose of electronic waste properly.
13. surfing with stationary internet connection
Data transfer via a cellular connection consumes significantly more energy than via a stationary connection with LAN or WLAN. Unfortunately, surfing the Internet via a cellular connection is no longer much more expensive, but much more convenient.
Tip: If you have the option, use the Internet via a stationary connection and not via mobile communications. This makes your use of the Internet much more sustainable.
14. use screen with appropriate size
The screen on which you surf the Internet should not be as oversized as possible, but only as large as necessary. This is because screens also consume a particularly large amount of electricity - and that also goes unnecessarily to your own wallet. Another sign that you can do with Sustainability Save money can.
Tip: The next time you buy a new screen, make sure it's only as big as absolutely necessary. By the way, this also applies to the smart TV.
Notice: Even powerful graphics cards are usually incredibly energy-intensive. Consider whether an ordinary graphics card might be sufficient for your purposes.
Sustainable on the Internet - is that possible?
Yes, it works! If you're on the Internet, you'll never be able to do it 100% sustainably - after all, energy is consumed. But it is much more important that you can do it sustainably. I hope that the tips in this article will help you to surf in a more environmentally friendly and energy-saving way in the future. As is so often the case, it's simply a few habits that we need to break away from.
Do you have any other tips, questions, or your own experiences with sustainable web surfing that you'd like to share? Then feel free to write a comment below this post.
PS.: Feel free to look around a bit more in the Blog about sustainable living around. There you will learn, for example, how you can save money through sustainability can. You are also welcome to contact us via the Building sustainable websites inform
₁ S. Ostendorf: Insatiable hunger for power: Why data traffic on the Internet gobbles up so much energy (as of 01.11.2018), available at https://www.stern.de/digital/online/google-wieviel-energie-verschlingt-eine-suchanfrage-8397770.html. [15.11.2019].
₂ M. Holland; Heise Medien GmbH & Co. KG: Climate change: online porn produces as much CO2 as Romania (as of Jul 12, 2019), available at https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Klimawandel-Online-Pornos-produzieren-so-viel-CO2-wie-Rumaenien-4469108.html. [15.11.2019].
₃ Umweltbundesamt (2019): Surfing, Internet providers (as of Feb. 21, 2019), available at https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/umwelttipps-fuer-den-alltag/elektrogeraete/surfen-internetanbieter. [15.11.2019].
₄ German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (2015): Development of ICT–conditional electricity demand in Germany - Final report, p.41. Available at https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/DE/Downloads/E/entwicklung-des-ikt-bedingten-strombedarfs-in-deutschland-abschlussbericht.html. [15.11.2019].
₅ Umweltbundesamt (2019): Surfing, Internet providers (as of Feb. 21, 2019), available at https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/umwelttipps-fuer-den-alltag/elektrogeraete/surfen-internetanbieter. [15.11.2019].