Creating sustainably: How much digital content is enough?

As a parent of a high school student, we are deep in the throes of admissions communications. The accelerating wave of digital content is increasing the energy demands on an already overextended planet. There is a perception that digital is less environmentally costly than cutting down trees for paper. Yet the energy costs for our digital lives can be steep. Every byte is energy, and energy has a carbon cost.

Our organizations’ digital footprints are ever-increasing. The world is generating more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data annually, no doubt a significant contributor to the fact that the world has almost doubled its energy consumption since 1980.

I have developed formulas to calculate the carbon impact of your organization’s digital initiatives. These formulas can be applied proactively to new projects to understand the carbon cost of content, and retroactively to assess the value of what’s already been published. All communications teams should keep these numbers in mind when deciding what needs to be communicated, and how.


Alisa Bonsignore — Clarifying Complex Ideas, LLC

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