For much of the last four decades, the massification of digital technologies has been seen as a pillar of sustainability. Reducing paper consumption through the use of digital resources is one of the clearest examples of this idea. However, in recent years, the question has been raised – what impact does digitalisation have on the development of a sustainable world?
The ground for this doubt is related to issues such as the materials used in the production of smartphones, or the high energy consumption associated with their use. Even if the opportunities to improve environmental protection through technologies still exist (such as the use of teleworking), there is nonetheless a climate footprint associated with digitalisation.
On this premise, the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre published the didactic material “Digitalisation and climate: environmental awareness in the digital world”, a publication that reflects on the theme of environmental awareness in the digital world through some suggestions for activities that can be carried out with students in class. "It is important to understand the links between digitalisation and climate", explains the publication, ”to evaluate the consequences of our own actions and deeds".
Thus, by working through nine exercises, students can learn to assess the authenticity of information and its sources, understand basic needs in the digital world, learn about the resource consumption associated with the production and use of devices, and discover ways to use technology to reduce resource consumption.
The guide also includes a number of tips for students, teachers and parents, as well as suggested behaviours to be implemented in everyday life. Ultimately, as the publication states, the aim is "to show students the different options available and to make them enjoy acting in a sustainable way".
Here are some of the tips to follow to reduce your environmental impact in the digital context.
- Choose environmentally friendly supply chains.
- Buy used and second-hand devices.
- Think about (and take advantage of) the useful life of your devices.
- Replace defective batteries.
- Reduce your use of data-intensive applications.
- Use digital devices consciously.
- Take advantage of digitalisation to live a more sustainable life.
- Recycle defective devices.
The manual is available on the website of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre.
Find out more about Safer Internet Day in Portugal. Learn more about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.