IEMA Sustainability Impact Award Winners for Circular Economy 2020, Techbuyer discuss sustainable solutions for the use of IT equipment in part three of their series on this topical issue.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we witnessed a 6% reduction in global energy CO2 emissions as the world as we knew it stopped, according to the International Energy Agency. However, the numbers are now up and higher than they were before the pandemic.

In part one and part two of our digital sobriety series, we have explored the environmental impact of our IT equipment especially in terms of the use phase and embodied energy. We have also explored digital sobriety – the art of making use of what we already have – as a sustainable solution.

Now we are equipped with this knowledge, what can we all do to make a difference?

Changing consumer behaviours

Businesses can reduce emissions by buying IT hardware less often, choosing to upgrade with refurbished, and sending unwanted equipment for refurbishment. Businesses can also utilise other methods, such as choosing energy efficient models and putting machines on standby when they are not in use.

Individuals’ digital devices, and the way we use data, also has an environmental impact. The good news is that individuals can also make small changes with their digital devices to reduce environmental impact.

Use your devices for longer

How long do you usually keep your phone before buying another one? Challenge yourself to stretch this time, for instance from 3 years to 5 years. Make sure to find a quality refurbishment company once you no longer want your phone, who will collect your device for free and data erase it.

If you usually buy new phones, why not try refurbished next time? There are a variety of refurbished mobiles out there that include extensive warranties.

Types of networks

4G is three times more energy intensive than 3G, and 3G is three times more energy intensive than Wi-fi (we got this from you Rich, do you know where from?). So streaming videos at home using Wi-fi takes only a ninth of what streaming the same video on a train would time. A revealing example of this is Cristiano Ronaldo: every time he posts something on his Instagram, his followers consume over 24 megawatt-hours of energy to view it according to the Uptime Institute. A large amount of this energy is due to the networks used to transmit the data.

Always download – never stream

Streaming videos and music is much more energy intensive than downloading it… University of East London academic, Rabih Bashroush calculated that five billion plays of the song Despacito consumed as much electricity as Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic put together in a single year: over 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Consider the quality

Another tip is to avoid downloading High Definition videos – this requires much higher bandwidth for a level of quality that is often unnecessary.

Turn off your camera

One of our personal favourites is that turning your camera off during an online call is 94% more energy efficient. Whilst it’s not feasible to do this all time, even just turning off everybody’s camera for the last ten minutes is easy to do and has a significant impact.

Storing less photos, streaming less videos, avoiding attaching attachments to emails unless necessary, and using Wi-fi rather than data are just a few more examples of small changes that can make a real impact. For more ideas, we’d recommend checking out our colleague’s blog about saving the world with digital.

In this digital sobriety series we have discussed the environmental impact of our technology and ways to reduce this. As a sustainable IT provider, this is our bread and butter and it’s something we’re extremely passionate about. With awareness raising, government funding and more businesses joining the carbon reduction club every week, we hope that circularity will soon become the norm.

Techbuyer is a sustainable IT solutions provider with sites across Europe, the US and Asia Pacific. We buy, refurbish, or sell servers, storage and networking equipment, laptops, desktops and components from over 150 brands including HPE, Dell and Cisco. As a team passionate about reuse, we also upgrade and repair existing IT hardware. Find out how we could help your business today.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the contributing individual, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

Photo of GRE Ycirlce
Techbuyer Sustainability Team

Sustainability Team, Techbuyer

Techbuyer is a sustainable IT solutions provider with offices in the UK, North America, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand. Techbuyer helps businesses maximise their IT budgets by supplying cost-effective new and quality refurbished servers, storage, memory and networking equipment from over 150 brands including HPE, Dell, IBM and Cisco.

It sells a large range of enterprise IT hardware, and also buys used parts to turn them into high quality refurbished IT equipment. You can find out more about the company here.


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