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Simple ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint

Is working from home here to stay? It looks like it! While it might seem like not traveling to an office every day would decrease our energy consumption, experts say the increase in internet use is impacting our digital carbon footprint.

In addition to planting trees, limiting meat consumption, and walking or using public transportation, there are other ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint. Including some things you can do right now from your home! It starts with adjusting your digital use.

A study conducted by Purdue University, Yale University and the Massachusetts Institution of Technology revealed a surge in internet use since the pandemic began. Data centers and data transmission networks store and transfer all of our data, meaning they require a lot of energy to operate.

Here are some quick ways you can reduce the stress on data centers and, in turn, reduce your digital carbon footprint and energy use:

  1. Delete unwanted emails. Emails are stored on a server and contribute to the stress on data centers. It seems like we’re all on dozens of spam lists, and now you have a good reason to unsubscribe.
  2. Turn off your camera during meetings when possible. The study found that having your computer’s camera off can decrease the carbon footprint by up to 96%. You can tell your boss you’re saving the planet!
  3. Shut down your computer when you’re done for the day. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends powering down when you plan to be away for two hours or more.
  4.  Eliminate your electronics waste. The Environmental Protection Agency says that recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent of the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.

Though these may seem like small changes, they can make a difference when we all work together. Collective action is a powerful tool that we can use to reduce our carbon footprint and create significant change for the environment.

The digital world poses new challenges, but at Alliant Energy we vow to make things better. That’s why we’re working to bridge the digital divide and give recycled laptops a new home through our TechRefresh program. Through this program, we partner with Cascade Asset Management and local businesses to collect and “refresh” unwanted equipment and distribute it to nonprofit organizations in our service area.

To request materials for your organization or nonprofit, fill out our equipment request form and help us bridge the digital divide.

Kaitlyn is an intern with the External Communications Team. She is a student at The University of Iowa, studying Journalism & Mass Communication and Event Management. Kaitlyn is passionate about sustainability and is eager to help tell Alliant’s story in their journey to create a better future.

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