In the digital world, we’re constantly receiving advice from ‘the experts’ telling us to use social platforms and mobile media to communicate with our customers. Online platforms allow for super-fast, direct communication, and is a proven method of disseminating information quickly and efficiently.
And according to research undertaken by Frost and Sullivan, 98% of text messages are opened, and presumably read, as opposed to only 12% of emails. What is more startling, however, is that some national corporations are even claiming that texting is the most environmentally friendly way of communicating. That might all be well and good, but who exactly is benefitting? It’s certainly not the consumer, and definitely not the environment!
Every text that is sent from an iPhone travels on average 8,000 miles before it reaches its intended recipient. Each time a text is sent from the UK, it’s transformed into electromagnetic radio waves that are sent under the Atlantic to data centres in the US and back at lightning speeds. While this form of communication takes just seconds, it requires energy.
The majority of the carbon footprint of electronic devices is generated during manufacturing. According to Greenpeace, it takes about 16 kg of CO2 to manufacture a typical mobile phone. Add to that the power it consumes over a two year period, and this rises to 22kg. Factor in that it uses 300% more CO2 to transmit all the calls and texts across the network, the total amount is approximately 94kg over the lifetime of the phone.
And what about storing all this digital data? In 2002, digital storage capacity overtook analogue and is growing every day at a phenomenal rate. These data centres also have their own impact on the environment. Estimates suggest that global data centres account for 1.5-2% of the worldwide energy demand, a figure that will only continue to rise as we continue to fuel the surge in data.
So, next time you are sending a ‘quick’ text to someone, or arranging an online marketing campaign, spare a thought for the impact it might have on the environment before it reaches your target audience. Digital is certainly a powerful communications tool, but it’s not always as green as you might think.