This is the challenge launched by the World Cleanup day and the startup Cleanfox. The idea? Clean up your mailbox, computer and smartphone to reduce the environmental impact of your digital activities. Effective?
INTERNET – This is the challenge launched by the World Cleanup day and the startup Cleanfox. The idea? Clean up your mailbox, computer and smartphone to reduce the environmental impact of your digital activities. Effective? Delete smartphone applications that are no longer used; clean up the files accumulated on the computer; leave online storage in which you no longer participate; clean your mailbox; limit video content; favor the WIFI or wired network over mobile networks (3G, 4G)…
In all, there are eight tips that World Cleanup Day gives to take advantage of the free time that confinement offers to reduce its digital footprint. This ecological movement, launched in 2007 in Estonia, is moving away from its usual field of action: the organization of a big world day of waste collection, the third Sunday of September, in the 156 countries where the World Cleanup day is now present.
4% of global emissions
“Confinement turns everything upside down,” says Yael Derhy, a volunteer with the French branch. Difficult, under these conditions, to prepare for the next World Cleanup day. On the other hand, this period should not be the excuse for no longer acting in favor of the environment. “
Hence this idea of a great challenge calling for reducing the environmental footprint of our digital activities. The #cybercleanup was launched on Wednesday on social media, “but we are getting ahead in France,” says Yael Derhy. Every Thursday, we post an action on social media that can be done to limit our digital waste. “
A good idea ? In any case, the digital sector’s carbon footprint is not negligible. “This sector is responsible today for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the sharp increase in uses suggests a doubling of this carbon footprint by 2025”, estimates theAdeme (Environment and Energy Management Agency) in his note The hidden face of digital, reissued last November.
Pollution on the rise with containment?
Is this digital pollution reaching records with containment? It’s in any case the fear of Cleanfox, Parisian startup which offers to scan your mailbox for old letters and newsletters that you no longer read, and then offers to delete them.
Louis Balladur, its co-founder, cites the intensification of email exchanges in these massive times of teleworking or the boom in platforms of streaming video * since the start of containment. “Behind these digital uses, which may seem dematerialized, there is a whole real infrastructure that has an environmental impact through the electricity it consumes to operate,” recalls Louis Balladur. There is the terminal (smartphone, laptop, tablet …), but also the network infrastructure, which routes the data to you, or data centers that store your data. “This environmental impact is even greater when you and / or the data center which stores your data are located in a country where the electric mix is dominated by fossil fuels, such as coal, ”continues Louis Balladur.
Unsurprisingly then, Cleanfox joined the #worldcleanup recommendations by also asking to take advantage of the confinement to clean its mailbox.
“The manufacture of our equipment more than the uses of the Web”
The annoying reasoning Frédéric Bordage, creator of Green IT, a collective of digital experts which has been promoting sustainable computing since 2004. “It is very complicated to prove, with figures, any increase in digital pollution since the start of containment,” he begins. We can even assume the opposite. Three-quarters of the digital environmental impact is linked to the manufacturing of our IT equipment, which we are renewing at a breakneck pace today. But probably much less since March 17. “
Computers, voice assistants, tablets, smartphones, connected watches… “On average, it takes 50 to 350 times their weight in materials to produce electrical devices with a strong electronic component, for example 800 kg for a laptop and 500 kg for an Internet box, illustrated the Ademe, still in The hidden face of digital. The manufacturing phase is also more energy-intensive than the consumer use of the product. It also emits more CO2, since most of the components are made in China or Korea, whose electricity comes from coal and therefore weighs heavily on climate change. “
“Less equipment and longer life”
The founder of Green It then invites much more to take advantage of confinement to reflect on the frequency with which we renew our electronic equipment. “If you really want to tackle your digital footprint, the leitmotif is less equipment and longer life,” he insists. By applying it, you are attacking 75% of its digital impact. Then, it is interesting to seek to act on the electrical consumption of its equipment, by turning off its Internet box at night, for example, or by choosing a green electricity supplier. “
The rest comes after, in the eyes of the founder of Green It. Or even later when it comes to cleaning your mailbox. “What costs from an environmental point of view, when you send an email, is the time you spend writing and reading it,” explains Frédéric Bordage. Then comes the transport stage, and finally the storage stage. In other words, by deleting these old emails, we are acting on 0.0005% of our digital pollution. “
Clean your mailbox, a door not so stupid?
A speech tempered by Françoise Berthoud, engineer at CNRS and founder ofEcoInfo, a group of services to study the impact of new technologies on society. “The eight tips of the World Cleanup Day are not all in vain,” she said. Quite simply because by looking at our digital uses, we also condition the lifespan of our equipment. By deleting unnecessary applications, files and even emails, you prevent your smartphone or computer from becoming saturated and becoming too slow in their use. In short, you delay the moment when you want to change them. “
Above all, Françoise Berthoud sees these simple gestures as a gateway to thinking about the environmental impacts of our digital activities. “We have won everything if a person first cleans up their mailbox, then, being interested in the subject, then moves towards more ambitious actions,” she says. Yael Derhy doesn’t say anything else. The World Cleanup day volunteer draws a parallel with waste collection. “We know that a collection day is not going to change much, but if they increase in number and participants then pay more attention to the waste they generate, the impact is less and less negligible. Cleanfox claims today more than 3 million users of its software and two billion emails deleted since its creation. “This saved 20,000 tonnes of CO2 eq,” said Louis Balladur.