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Say Hello / Deud Helo

Greta Thunberg shamed the world leaders at the UN General Assembly last week with her impassioned speech about climate change.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

Most people are now beginning to understand the implications of the #ClimateCrisis. Here in #Aberystwyth, some of the Digida team joined the #ClimateStrike to force the UK Government to attend to the issue.

And many of us will have accessed a carbon footprint calculator to determine where our own personal tipping points are.

But something you may not have considered is the impact of your social media use.

How does social media impact on your climate footprint?

This is a two-fold question. The issue isn’t necessarily how you use social media – in fact, the environmental sector have embraced social media and use the medium to support campaigns and to connect people across the world. Indeed, social media has enabled the rise of the independent activist. And grown awareness of our own personal contributions to the climate crisis.

The down side, of course, is that social media activists are encouraging what we now call slacktivism.¬†There’s an argument that social media is killing real activism. So the benefit is it increases awareness; but there’s an argument as to whether or not this translates into real change.

So if it’s not social media itself that’s the problem…

What is? Yeah, the problem is the technology that you’re using to access social media.

First, there is the manufacturing, use and disposal of the devices that you access social media platforms on, such as smartphones, laptops and desktops. Then there is the background infrastructure required to provide access to those platforms, which includes things like data centres, internet routers and the base stations that make mobile internet accessible.

In a nutshell, then, it’s the energy it takes to create and power the objects we use to access social media (phones, laptops, servers) and the materials we use to build those objects. A lot of hazardous materials go into the creation of your smartphone, and a lot of resources that might be better left underground.

Which social media platform is greener?

The article we’ve quoted from above suggests that Facebook is probably the worst platform (not just for your soul), because it uses the most data. Texts use a lot less data than images, or videos. So a sliding scale would perhaps be Twitter > Instagram > Facebook > YouTube. But that’s not necessarily accurate; just a guide.

And then we come full circle again by reminding you that social media “limits the carbon footprint of human communications.”

So what’s the answer?

If, as a business owner, you’re using social media to promote your business online and sell your products, the tough answer is that it’s complicated. Yes, the hardware you’re using is environmentally unsound. But social media is probably the better way of marketing your business from an environmental perspective. It avoids things like leaflet production and the fuel used for transporting letters, for example.

As per usual, social media leaves us in a quandary. It’s good AND bad. What can you as a business owner do? Shout hard, and loud, at the bigger players in the global game. As Greta has proven, one voice can sometimes make all the difference.