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The environmental consequences of our digital transformation are fast catching up with us.

Our reliance on technology and connected devices is at an all-time high after the COVID-19 pandemic spurred our use of technology – and our seemingly limitless consumption of data is having a significant impact on our carbon footprint.

What’s in your digital wastebin?

Some technology is essential, even lifesaving. But do we really need to stream videos in high definition? Doing this consumes large amounts of energy and generates a massive carbon footprint.

According to a Yale-led study, if 70 million streaming subscribers switched their video quality from high definition to standard, it could reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 3.5 million tons – equivalent to eliminating 6% of the US’s total monthly coal consumption!

Switching to a lower resolution is just one of the steps that we as individuals can take to curb the effect of our digital consumption on the planet. On 18 March this year, Digital Cleanup Day – an initiative of World Cleanup Day, which brings together volunteers, governments and organizations in 191 countries to tackle the global waste problem – presents an excellent opportunity to start some sustainable digital habits.

3 ways to reduce your digital footprint – from the comfort of your desk

  1. Sort your inbox

It’s estimated that up to 347 billion emails are sent and received every day. Some are critical, and some can be deleted after completing the task. But most of these emails stay dormant in our inboxes, which means they’re taking up space in a data center somewhere. Organizing your inbox, sending fewer emails, using channels like instant chat and setting up automatic deletes can save both time and digital space.

  1. Turn off video

Another way of reducing energy consumption is to turn off video cameras during online meetings. While it makes sense to switch cameras on in one-on-one meetings, it is wasteful in meetings with many attendees. Doing this can save as much as the emissions created by charging a smartphone every night for more than three years, according to the Yale-led study.

  1. Organize your folders

When we are neck-deep in work, we may not realize we’re creating multiple copies and versions of files. Schedule regular check-ins to assess your folders, delete duplicate files and outdated versions, and archive important documents. Once it becomes a habit to keep your files organized, upkeep will take little effort. It also saves time in the long run, as you’ll be able to locate the right files faster.

Intentional digital cleanups free up storage and cut back on the energy needed for processing. And, by making more space available, we also prolong the shelf life of our devices. It takes just a few easy steps to set this practice in motion.

NTT’s commitment to sustainability

We take our sustainability commitment seriously and recognize the urgent need for organizations to cut back on their digital carbon footprint. While it is admirable for people to take action in their daily lives, organizations should not place the onus on individuals to reduce carbon emissions.

We have set ambitious targets to realize a sustainable future. Our commitments focus on technology solutions that protect, restore and regenerate the natural world and conserve precious natural resources:

  • We aim to achieve net-zero emissions across our operations by 2030 and across our value chain by 2040.
  • We have set a goal of using 100% renewable energy in our Global Data Centers business by 2030 and in our offices by 2035.
  • By 2026, we will incorporate circular design into our operations to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Small actions can go a long way in reducing our digital footprint. On this Digital Cleanup Day, we call on you to help us realize our ambitions. We’re also challenging all of our employees at NTT to take action.

Together, we can develop a culture of conscious consumption and become responsible digital citizens.

This article includes contributions by Dharini Bharathi, Senior Data Center Operations Specialist at NTT Global Data Centers.


Contact us to talk about our sustainable initiatives across our data center locations. We look forward to hearing from you.