Digital isn’t always better (for the environment)

During lunch today, a discussion about our e-mail marketing plan reminded Lynn of an MIT workshop that she attended last year—one that scared the, well, you-know-what out of her.

The topic: “Energy Insights for Communications Choices.” Essentially, Lynn learned that paper isn’t always enemy #1. And the push to move all communications online isn’t necessarily better for the environment, though it’s often touted as such. Servers need energy and parts, and the more online networking we do, the more we e-mail and blog and chat, the more energy the world is expending.

The presentation outlines some doomsday scenarios: If we continue down our current path, on which our energy consumption continues to increase, in 2050 we’ll be planting crops for fuel only—and not for food; we’ll have to build dams on all remaining rivers; and, okay, you get the picture.

Obviously, some print/online balance is in order. In her presentation, Laxmi Rao offered some tips:

  1. Reduce the quantity of your content—aim for quality.

  2. Consider the size and frequency of the publication.

  3. Reuse existing content.

  4. Save paper: Make duplex printing your default.

  5. Delete unnecessary digital content.

  6. Recycle paper and computing equipment.

We’re always considering ways to reduce the studio’s carbon footprint. What green initiative has your company or institution made recently?

environment / technology