Have you ever considered the environmental impact of your daily screentime? As we scroll, click and stream, our average screentime soars – but so does the carbon we leave behind.
Dopamine is a hot topic on social media, frequently mentioned by doctors, podcasters, and many enthusiasts. It’s a neurotransmitter that controls the operations of neurons. This molecule plays a pivotal role in our lives, motivating us, offering pleasure, and managing satisfaction. Beyond its role in mood, memory, and attention, dopamine also influences basic needs like eating, sleeping, and moving.
However, in today’s digital landscape, dopamine has led to unintended consequences for our mental wellbeing. The allure of watching a short video, especially on platforms like TikTok, prompts a surge of dopamine, driving us to keep scrolling. Studies show our attention spans have plummeted from 2 ½ minutes in 2004 to a mere 47 seconds in 2016—and that was before the rise of 7-second content we see online today. But, have you ever considered, not just the mental effects of your binge-watching and endless scrolling, but the environmental effects too?
While dopamine keeps us hooked and distracted, we overlook a crucial side effect: the environmental impact of our screentime. Just a minute on TikTok generates 2.63g of CO2. With 1 billion monthly users in 2021, these seemingly small numbers translate into a colossal environmental footprint.
Let’s crunch the numbers: Using the average screen time on TikTok (52 minutes) and assuming 250 million people use it daily, TikTok produces 34,190 tonnes of CO2 daily! That’s over 12 million tonnes annually, and that’s just from one app. Combine that with giants like YouTube and Instagram, and the numbers are staggering.
The vast array of digital infrastructure, from data centres the size of cities, subsea cables stretching over 1.3 million kilometres along our seabeds, this energy thirsty system that powers the internet now contributes to over 6% of global emissions—worse than the aviation industry. And the digital realm continues to expand; with the rise of the metaverse and AI, some projections suggest our online activity could contribute to nearly 23% of global emissions by 2030.
While completely disconnecting might be impractical for many, we can embrace more sustainable digital habits. Just as we mindfully choose our food, it’s time to evaluate our digital consumption. Is the content you’re engaging with adding value or just draining your time? Choosing what content to engage with and nourishing your body with digital information is vital.
So, the next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling, ask yourself, am I gaining something valuable from this or should I consider an alternative? A walk with loved ones or a pet might be the refreshing change you need. Your brain, body, and planet will surely thank you.
But, for those unavoidable times we do consume content online, we should look to mitigate or even remove the emissions we’ve caused. This is possible with Carbon Fingerprint, a digital tool that helps individuals understand and address the carbon impact of their screentime. It’s not about going digital-free, but making the time we spend online more sustainable. Supporting the planet and making us feel better about the time we spend online.
There’s a profound irony in how the very thing that often pulls us away from nature, is simultaneously harming it. Technology has installed a screen between us and the natural world, creating the illusion that we are mere observers experiencing the world around us, rather than integral parts of it. Yet, the truth remains: we are intrinsically linked with nature. Our actions, both beneficial and harmful, reverberate throughout the world around us. Consequently, by adopting habits that enrich our own lives, we inherently contribute to the betterment of the entire planet.
Discover your own carbon fingerprint and learn how to make a positive change by visiting Carbon Fingerprint’s website.
Written by Matthew Bird, Co-Founder of Carbon Fingerprint
Carbon Fingerprint helps you calculate and remove the carbon emissions from your digital habits, promoting a healthier, more sustainable online life.