Image Attribute: Reuters Media Express
You might not realise it but the amount of time you spend and what you do online takes its toll on the environment.
Research* suggests that the average online user consumes 130 kgs of carbon a year – the equivalent to driving 740 km in a car - which could be offset by planting four trees.
A new plug-in for Google’s Chrome browser launched ahead of Earth Day on Friday (22 April) will help educate people about how much energy they consume online by calculating their digital carbon footprint and, as a result, inspire them to think about their everyday energy efficiency.
The new Chrome plug-in comes from Johnnie Walker®, makers of the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky, who are partnering with Earth Day Network to urge people to take a small but progressive step towards helping the environment.
Earth Day Network is a global movement that aims to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to take action on environmental issues.
By measuring online usage over four weeks, the plug-in calculates the user’s annual consumption of energy. To offset it, Johnnie Walker will plant up to 75,000 trees as part of Earth Day Network’s Canopy Project, which has planted more than three million trees since 2011 in areas in need of reforestation, such as in East Africa.
Michael Thornton, Chief Executive of Carbon Analytics, which helps businesses manage their environmental impact, has worked with Johnnie Walker on the development of Earth Mode and says it is sometimes difficult for people to understand how using the internet creates a carbon footprint.
He said: “Each time that you use a website or search the internet it requires a lot of energy to provide the data. Cumulatively across the world, this creates a large carbon footprint.
The Earth Mode plug-in is an easy-to-use calculator that is a helpful tool for understanding that footprint. Individuals will be able to see their carbon usage displayed as the equivalent of everyday activities such as using a microwave, driving a car or taking a flight.”
Guy Escolme, Johnnie Walker global brand director, said: “We believe that everyone wants their tomorrow to be better than today and Earth Mode gives people the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment. It is just one environmentally-friendly act but we hope it will educate and inspire users around the world to take other small actions to help Earth Day achieve its goal of reaching three billion ‘Acts of Green’.
“Johnnie Walker is proud that our parent company Diageo has reduced its carbon emissions by 33% over eight years and one of the ways they have done that is to make its 35,000 employees across the world aware of the energy they use every day. Diageo aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2020.”
Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network said: “Carbon footprints seem like a foreign concept to far too many of us, perhaps especially those of us in urban environments or not living along a coastline. But we should all be aware of what our energy needs and consumption are doing to our shared global environment.”
“The more readily-available the information on our carbon footprint becomes, the more in contact with it in real-time we are, the more of an impact it will have. No more out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Now, like tracking the battery life on our cell phones, we will know what our computer usage is costing. And it will be eye-opening.”
The Johnnie Walker Earth Mode plug-in is available from the Chrome Store for PC and Mac users. Once installed, users click on the Johnnie Walker ‘Striding Man’ icon to reveal a drop-down window that displays real-time online energy usage, and shows how many trees will be planted to offset their annual carbon footprint.