8 Simple Ways to Make your Computer Use More Sustainable

8 Simple Ways to Make your Computer Use More Sustainable


The average person is set to spend over 22 years of their lives online. Shocking isn’t it? Children are spending up to 10 hours each day and it’s affecting their physical and mental health. But there’s another concern too… The environment.

Even though sending an email rather than posting a letter uses less paper and transport, the cost to the planet is still high. According to research, if internet use was a country, it would be the sixth largest polluter!

While our internet usage is likely to increase, not decrease, there are still several things we can all do to reduce our digital footprint:


If you’re anything like me, it seems countless newsletters flood into my inbox. Whereas I might have enjoyed reading them once, there are many I no longer have time to read or are no longer relevant to my lifestyle. If you were getting a paper catalogue or junk mail in the post that doesn’t interested you, you’d get yourself off the mailing list, right? The same is true for unwanted e-newsletters. Hit that unsubscribe button and you’ll not only reduce the carbon footprint a little, but you’ll get more head space too!

Get IT support

Many aspects of computer use are intuitive, but it can be so frustrating when things go wrong. And very disruptive if things are not set up properly and we end up hacked or with a computer virus. Professional IT Support is crucial to keep sensitive data safe and to prevent cybercrime. You wouldn’t drive a car without insurance, and IT support is like insurance for your online life.

Clean up your files

With terrabytes of storage now the norm, it’s easy to hoard old photos, files and documents. Every file you store in the cloud is using data and many cloud servers run on fossil fuel. By keeping your digital files to a minimum you’re helping reduce your carbon footprint.

Use a smartphone for quick searches

With a bigger screen and larger memory requirements, your laptop is more likely to use more power than you smartphone. So for those quick searches and for flicking through social media, use your smaller device.

Ok, thanks

Emails that say just say one or two words, like ‘thanks’ infuriate me because they waste my time. I really don’t need to open and read a ‘thanks’ email. But it’s more than just the frustration aspect. If every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email, it could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – the equivalent to taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road! So let’s all agree to ditch the niceties in honour of the planet! While you’re at it, you could adopt the three sentences policy – find out more here.

Link, don’t attach

Wherever possible, link to documents, rather than attach them. And think about your CC and BCC too. For every additional person you copy in, you’re increasing your carbon footprint.

Choose your searches wisely

Every search engine search you make uses a bit of carbon. You could switch to a more sustainable company like Ecosia who plant trees for every search done, but prevention is better than cure. Think wisely about whether you really need to search for something. How about the old fashioned idea of grabbing a book off the shelf and looking something up? Sure it takes longer, but the planet will thank you for it!

Switch off YouTube

Depending on how you’ve set up your browser, streaming services like YouTube might still be running, even when you’re not watching it. Be sure to check your settings and if you like to fall asleep to an audiobook or music videos, set a sleep timer, so it’s not playing all night.