Most of us are using cloud-based software and storage more and more, our computers connected to vast data centres somewhere else in the world. Have you ever wondered how much energy is takes to search the world wide web of data, and considered your environmental footprint?

Environmental footprint

A research paper from 2014 estimated that the ICT industry could use 20% of all the world’s electricity and emit up to 5.5% of the world’s carbon emissions by 2025, unless it took steps to green up. I admit that I’ve only recently begun to realise the significance of my online activities. I will be looking into green hosting for, aiming to find a virtual private server (VPS) that runs on green energy.

When it comes to my day-to-day online activities, and yours too, it’s worth becoming more aware of our personal CO2 footprints. About 95% of people find my website via Google, which is a common percentage across the internet, with Yahoo, Bing, and Duckduckgo, relegated to also rans. Estimates vary, but most suggest that every Google search produces 10-20g of CO2. If you’ve never seen your online CO2 footprint in real time, visit CO2GLE and be prepared to be shocked.

Real time CO2 impact of your browsing activities from CO2GLE
Real time CO2 impact of your browsing activities from CO2GLE

Update: I came upon this really useful looking Green Hosting Directory provided by the Green Web Foundation. It currently lists 500 hosting companies spread across 62 countries, so if you’re looking for a green home for your online activities, this could be a great starting point.

Green Browsing

A rising star in ethical searching is The search engine may not yet have the power and flexibility of Google, or for that matter its lesser rivals, but using it will make you green. Ecosia claim that a search is not only neutral in CO2 production because its servers run on green energy, but because it has an active tree planting programme, every search actually removes CO2 from the atmosphere.

Ecosia search engine
Ecosia search engine

“If we had only 10-15% of Google’s market share then we could already plant enough trees to stop global deforestation.” 

Christian Kroll, Founder and CEO, ECOSIA

Try Ecosia in the window below. You will see how the number of trees planted as a result of your search activities is displayed next to the search bar at the top. You will need to make about 45 searches using Ecosia to have one tree planted. There’s also a neat Chrome extension too – download it here.

Ecosia is backed by an international non-profit organisation called We Forest. By using Ecosia, you’re not only reforesting our planet, but you’re also empowering communities and their planting projects to build a better future for themselves. Read more about We Forest.

Happy ‘ecosiaction’, ‘ecosing’, or whatever the alternative to the ubiquitous ‘googling’ should be called [suggestions welcome!].

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