Summary: If the preservation of the environment is a subject that is important to you, you are certainly already adopting eco-citizen habits on a daily basis. This involves selective sorting, energy and water savings, not to mention the use of public transport, etc. Despite these efforts, however, your carbon footprint could be multiplied by the use of your smartphone.
Changing your consumption habits: this also applies to your phone
Data traffic is growing at a rate of 25% annually. This notable increase can be explained in particular by our growing use of smartphones and the consumption of mobile data that this implies.
Although mobile data streams represent just a small fraction of global CO2 emissions today, it is a growing source of emissions. Many mobile applications use a lot of mobile data📲. Most of the time, streaming apps are the frontrunners. Very concretely, and once again according to ADEME data, video streams represent nearly 1% of global CO2 emissions.
Why is the use of mobile data a source of CO2 emissions?
According to a report by Ofcom, the average UK person used 2.9GB of mobile data per month in 2019, which is an increase of 25% on the previous year. This corresponds approximately to an expenditure of 22KWh.
The calculation then becomes very simple, for each GB you consume in 4G, you use 7.5KWh of energy. Knowing that in the UK, each kWh of energy produced represents on average 0.256kg of CO2 emissions (source), each GB of mobile data consumed is synonymous with a CO2 emission of 1.92kg.
How much does your smartphone pollute?
But let’s stop with these figures and get down to the real thing: how much do you really pollute with your phone? The answer varies greatly depending on how you use it, and that’s why we’ve created the tool below. Thanks to it, you can easily estimate your average annual mobile data consumption and the CO2 emissions involved. You will also find out the average number of trees that you would need to plant each year to successfully offset these emissions.
What category of data consumer do you fall into?
As of 2018, the UK average monthly consumption of mobile data is 2.9GB, which is equivalent to just under 35GB a year. This level of emissions could be offset by planting two trees a year.
However, if you use your phone regularly, for several hours a day, the bill will be much higher. Young people under the age of 30 are indeed often approaching spending of around 30GB of mobile data per month. For comparison, if you fall into this category, you would need to plant eight trees per year to offset your emissions.
Last case, your phone is your work tool and it is impossible for you to go anywhere without checking it regularly. If this sounds like you, it is likely that your consumption exceeds 60GB or even 70GB per month. If you want to offset the emissions caused by this, you would have to plant 14 trees per year, which means that you would soon be the owner of your own beautiful forest.
While you probably don’t even think about the CO2 emissions caused by your mobile data usage, they are often not insignificant. To have access to an estimate of your emissions according to how much you use your smartphone, we invite you to use the tool above.
Now that you’ve realised the impact your smartphone has on the environment, maybe it’s time to take a look at alternatives that can help you limit it. Many applications now offer “saving mobile data” options. This is particularly the case with Netflix. If you want to go even further, we recommend that you limit 4G streaming as much as possible and think about connecting to a wifi network when possible.
Updated on 21 Jan, 2021