What is digital pollution?

Published on Oct 9, 2022

When you hear the word pollution, what do you associate it with? Something like smoke and dirt, unbearable to see or hear. But that’s just one part of it. This is something which we feel through our five senses. And that doesn’t mean pollution exists only for what we feel, right? There are different forms of pollution which can’t be seen damaging our environment in the “usual way”.

Ever heard of digital pollution? Yes, there is something called digital pollution.

We usually associate pollution with industries, vehicles etc. But that’s not the end of it.

We pollute the environment in many different ways even if you’re at home or working at an office when you end up using electricity. See, electricity isn’t something which we can see with our eyes or even feel (an electric shock is something you can feel though😜)

And this electricity, depending on the region you live in and the methods you adopt, could either be coal, gas or even solar. And there are CO2 emissions associated with it when you use resources like coal, oil or natural gas.

Such emissions come under Scope 2. More has been covered here on how we pollute the environment by living/working in the buildings.

Since we are in a digital world doesn’t mean we do not pollute. The digital devices we use make that pollution. There are 2 major types of pollution that these devices make:

One is during its manufacturing. How is the manufacturer polluting the environment? What materials are being used in making this device and how are they extracted? All this adds to pollution during the making of the device. Digital devices require elements like Lithium, Nickel and Silicon and these aren’t known to be easily extractable, in fact, notorious sometimes. The race for such materials is going to get bigger as we keep adding new devices.

The other type of pollution is what we make while using it. As per Wion, each email we send associates with 4grams of CO2 emission, every test message we send through generates 0.14grams of CO2 emission, each google search we make generates 0.2grams of CO2 emission, streaming a 30min video emits 1.6kg of CO2 emission (imagine streaming a TV series now😱). And how? The below tweet might explain:

And where does that electricity powering Google search come from? Though Google is planning to move its data centres to renewables, not everything has been addressed yet.

And how about charging your mobile phone or any other electronic device?

As we get excited about new festive deals and smartphone launches, we abandon the old ones. What about the waste it would accumulate when it is disposed of, aka e-waste? As per Australian National University, India is known to be one of the highest dumping grounds for e-waste. In fact, the third largest e-waste generator after China and the USA.

This isn’t good, is it?

Till the time we figure out a solution as humankind, let’s use the internet responsibly. And save mother Earth from bigger damage.


Written by Zodhya

About Zodhya

We are Zodhya, a start-up that provides AI-based tech to reduce energy bills and lower emissions for commercial buildings and industries.