Emails, video calls, Whatsapp messages, scrolling through social networks, online searches, streaming TV and music… these are all digital activities we do on a daily basis, often forgetting that we pollute while we do it! In fact, these actions, even though they travel on bits, have an impact on the environment.

For example, sending a simple email with a short text and an attachment weighing about 1 megabyte emits 19 grams of Co2: if the recipients become 8, it is like driving a kilometre. Some 227 billion e-mails are sent every day. If one were to remove, for example, just the trivial emails in the UK, the ‘thank you’ ones, it would be the equivalent of taking 3,000 diesel cars off British roads.

As for social media, each user on Facebook emits 229 grams of Co2 per year. However, if we consider that there are 2.85 billion active users in a single month, they basically pollute like a car making almost 12 thousand laps around the world.

And streaming? The energy consumed watching videos generates 306 million tonnes of Co2 per year, practically polluting as much as all of Spain, which alone produces about 1% of global emissions.

The pollution comes from the production of the technologies and microchips, the consumption of energy in the transfer of data and their maintenance in the servers. In short, if the big world of the Internet were a country, it would be fourth in the world for CO2 emissions after China, the United States and India.

But what can we do? In our own small way, for example, we can delete those mailing lists that we do not read, cancelling subscriptions; we can also compress e-mail messages or even chat messages. As for videos, we can prefer downloading to streaming, and if we really have to choose, we can perhaps opt for a non-HD format.

And then, before replying ‘thank you’ to an email… let’s think about it!