March 21, 2023

Digital Pollution

At the beginning of March I finished reading World Wide Waste by Gerry McGovern, I’ve reread the book twice since then, it was an eye-opener for me.

This post isn’t going to be long, because I’m sure you, my dear reader, don’t want to read my doom and gloom rantings, so I’ll write a couple of paragraphs to tickle your fancy and if what I write peaks your interest I recommend reading World Wide Waste and letting Gerry pop your eyes open with his excellent research.

Digital Is Destroying the Environment

Digital data such as websites, apps, code, videos, documents and images are stored on servers. Servers need power, and they need to be cooled. This requires energy. Every time we download, upload, send an email, deploy code, click a button, swipe through our social media feeds, visit a website, send messages, stream music and have meetings via Zoom CO2 is being pumped into the atmosphere.

All the old photos we store in the cloud are sitting there right now, sucking up energy and creating climate emissions, 24/7.

The more data, the more emissions. The heavier the images and files, the longer the videos, the bigger the carbon footprint.


Discarded electronic devices, known as e-waste, are more destructive to the environment than any other waste.

Rich countries ship their e-waste to poor countries, they dump their crap far away and it’s killing people and the Earth.

Many digital products are deliberately designed not to be repaired. Smartphones are often designed with special glues, custom screws and batteries that can’t be easily replaced.

They’re created to be obsolete in a couple of years, either by being unrepairable or due to out-of-date software, so that consumers have to buy the latest shiny new object, which means more profit.


In 2019 there were 1.9 trillion Google searches. To offset the pollution from 1.9 trillion searches would require the planting of 16 million trees” - Gerry McGovern.

I’ve worked in digital for the past 20 years, so the digital realm is where I spend a lot of my time. Practicing sustainable digital is how I can help the environment by:

Digital pollution is something I’m taking seriously and will be writing more about.

Stay tuned.

Only 0.00g of CO2 is produced every time someone visits this blog post.

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