Digital at the service of sustainable development: such an announcement raises a lot of hope as well as suspicion. Indeed, ecology and the world of the Web are often put back-to-back, creating guilt and fear in the consumers of connected technologies that we have become. And yet, smartphones, applications, cloud or computers no longer necessarily rhyme with pollution and pressure on natural resources. If like me you are torn between your daily use of the Internet and your ecological conscience and if you wish to act through your activity as a Web-entrepreneur, then this article will certainly answer your questions. I guide you to understand why and how to go about it in order to reduce the impact of digital on the environment, starting tomorrow!
Digital ecology: major challenges for an already critical situation
It has been proven that digital is a growing sector. It meets the needs of a population and businesses whose uses have increased with the health crisis. Here are some examples:
- keep in touch with loved ones;
- order or book online;
- watch videos;
- get informed;
- dematerialize documents and activities;
- make business intelligence from stored data;
- exchange data through interfaces;
An IPSOS study sheds light on this phenomenon. Indeed, it shows that the vast majority of the most popular brands today are ultra-connected and in perpetual technological change (GAFA, Microsoft, Samsung). However, the consequences are heavy on the climate and biodiversity. Thus, scientists announce a tripling of greenhouse gas emissions due to digital technology by 2040. Its share will increase from 4%, or approximately double the impact recorded for aviation, to 12%. The repercussions on the biosphere would then be equivalent to those caused by industry and the construction sector combined!
There is one last important trend when it comes to digital ecology. Consumers make a purchase more easily when they find themselves in the values defended by a brand. This is a decisive factor and therefore a strong argument for a sustainable transition. Therefore, faced with the growing awareness of its users, the giants of the Web, electronics and start-ups have no other solution than to go green.
Impact of digital on the environment: weapons in the face of the crisis
As we have seen, it is essential to operate a change of model. First of all, by combining innovation, ecology and ethics in the design of any process. Then, relying on corporate social media or CSR, a tool that is gaining in popularity. In other words, companies can choose to integrate social and environmental concerns into all their activities, as well as into their overall strategy.
In this context, the digital universe, which includes the Web and connected products, is seeing the flowering of many meaningful projects. It can play a major role in building a more virtuous world by:
- subscribing to green energy suppliers;
- opting for less energy-consuming means of production;
- providing educational content;
- providing a space for associations and thinkers to inform and alert;
- favoring a more qualitative offer to tend towards more sobriety;
- applying eco-design at all stages of a product’s life cycle to put an end to planned obsolescence;
- fighting against inhumane working conditions in mines extracting rare metals and minerals;
This list is not exhaustive, but presents a fairly varied panel of applications and gestures in favor of the planet and its inhabitants. To go further, I suggest you look at 4 examples of successful positioning and sustainable commitments, before discovering how to take action yourself thanks to your business.
The sustainable digital transition: Web players at work
In this part, I will focus my analysis on 4 companies from the world of the Internet in order to present to you how they act concretely in order to limit their impact on the biosphere.
“Let’s use our profits to plant trees that absorb CO2.” Here is the enticing promise of this German search engine. Behind this concept of planetary reforestation hides a non-profit company whose entire profit, resulting from the clicks of Internet users, is reinjected into humanist projects and in favor of the biosphere. To learn more about this, dive into this article dedicated to ethical search engines.
Google has liked to advertise itself as carbon neutral since 2007. In other words, the volume of greenhouse gases emitted by the Mountain View company is equal to the volume absorbed by its activities in favor of the climate. On the other hand, and this from 2017, the Internet giant offsets all of its electrical energy consumption by purchasing renewable energy. It has therefore entered into contractual agreements with many producers and participates in the construction of new power plants, thus becoming a major support for the energy transition.
In 2020, Oxfam France revealed that the top 6 French banks are responsible for 4.5 times more GHG emissions than the whole of France! The reason? Our money is used to massively finance fossil fuels. A committed, simple and devilishly effective act is therefore to invest your savings with a responsible bank like the NEF. Serious and repeated studies have shown that its 100% online offer is the most virtuous, because it exclusively supports projects with social, ecological and even cultural value.
This Swiss company hosts websites and emails following an ecological charter. Knowing that the energy consumption of data centers represents approximately 3% of global consumption (equivalent to that of Germany) and that demand is constantly growing, a disruptive strategy is essential. This is why Infomania has invested in innovative servers from the point of view of performance and heat resistance. Thus, their new data center uses 40% less energy and requires minimal cooling, based moreover on adiabatic air conditioning aka bio climatization.
Digital at the service of sustainable development: getting involved in the process by creating the right content
Here are 3 criteria to take into account when designing the content of your site in order to be in accordance with your ecological convictions.
Reduce the number of searches with SEO
By applying SEO techniques to all your fixed pages and blog posts, you allow your reader or potential customer to find the answer to their search in a minimum of clicks. What relationship with the environment, you will tell me! And yet, it is direct, because the faster you respond to consumer expectations, the less it solicits the energy-consuming and polluting servers of search engines!
Make the user aware of your causes through communication
What a marvelous showcase a website is! Use it to highlight your commitments to the planet and its inhabitants. Demonstrate authenticity to reach the Internet user. Here is an awareness tool at your fingertips. In addition, according to another IPSOS study, the French say they are more inclined to buy when they can do a good deed, then you have real selling points coupled with a militant act.
Prioritize quality over quantity for all your content
Before even buying, the French get information on the Internet. They are increasingly vigilant about the origin of the product, the raw materials, the design, the manufacturing, that is to say respect for the environment in general. This is why it is essential to offer content whose substance and form show your investment in a sustainable approach.
Writing clear, optimized and impactful texts will lead to more traffic than a pile of low-end articles and pages. In addition, you will avoid overloading your site with unnecessary data. In the same way, prefer a monthly newsletter bringing added value to the Internet user to weekly emails which will often not even be opened. In this regard, writing quality content is a job and the we can help you.
If you weren’t already, I hope I have convinced you that taking part in the movement of ecological digital transition is within your reach. The preservation of the environment is an absolute emergency. It is also proving to be rich in opportunities which digital technology must seize as soon as possible. To do this, there are many ways to proceed, even with limited means. You now hold some of these keys, so take action to build an ecologically more virtuous world in your image, from your computer screen!