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The ultimate guide to managing your digital waste

Ivan Kozlov, an inspired Ukrainian high school student dedicated to combatting waste, gives his tips to how to reduce your digital carbon footprint.

The ultimate guide to managing your digital waste

UNESCO Trash Hack has partnered with World Cleanup Day to bring you a series of articles by young leaders around the world active in combatting waste. Find out how they have Trash Hacked their lives and regions, read their tips and share your own with #TrashHack.

My name is Ivan Kozlov and I am a high school student from Brovary, Ukraine. This year, I volunteered to create a website for the first Digital Cleanup in Ukraine as part of the World Cleanup Day. If you are like me, you want to make some changes that will help the planet, then read on and become part of the solution.

Did you know that every email letter stored in your inbox is using up energy? 

According to Digital Cleanup Day, 62 trillion spam emails are sent every year, requiring the use of 33 billion Watts of electricity and causing 20 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Moreover, experts from The Shift Project (PDF) indicate that digital technologies’ share of global CO2 emissions increased from 2.5 to 3.7 percent between 2013 and 2018.

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” – Albert Einstein. The need to address climate change remains as urgent as ever and digital cleaning is the ideal starting point. It is hard to overestimate the importance and simplicity of this kind of cleanup – everybody should try it.


STEP 1: Clean up your smartphone

Remove all applications that you have not used for a while or used only a few times. Be honest and delete all those unnecessary forgotten old apps and games that you have downloaded, but not yet even really tried. You won’t start using them later either – for sure! They consume energy even when they are not in use. Sort your photos and delete any duplicates and blurry ones.

STEP 2: Keep your laptop clean

Delete files that are duplicates or have become useless. Archive the important files. Go through the videos and photos and delete unnecessary ones.

STEP 3: Take care of your mailbox

Unsubscribe from newsletters and delete spam letters. Write short and clear emails that would get to the point straight away. There is no need to overload email by sending ‘ok’ and ‘thank you’ letters! Think about how to avoid sending emails. Instead of that, use more co-working places.

STEP 4: Make new arrangements

Keep the files in a cloud in one place so there is no need to keep the same file on every computer. Media Streaming is another disaster. It takes 60% of the world’s internet traffic and generates 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. So the way to decrease the amount of streaming time is to download your favourite content (shows, films, songs), instead of running it online multiple times when you rewatch or relisten.

The major problem is that many people often do not realize the importance of digital cleaning or have never heard that such a thing even exists.

We can change this situation by sharing our progress in reducing waste with help of Trash Hack – a platform to share ideas and experience with others – and using the power of social media.

The more people we inspire, the faster we will achieve sustainable development – a general conception of living that fulfills current needs and does not contradict the continued existence of humankind.

Let’s Do It World is the biggest civic network of active teams that lead World Cleanup Day when more than 50 million people from 180 countries participate in coordinated cleanups in the last three years.

The first global Digital Cleanup Day was held as part of celebrations on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, including Ukraine.

I became a member of the national team of “Let’s do it, Ukraine!” this year, where my goal has been to promote and popularize digital cleaning. Firstly, we developed a special Ukrainian website to emphasize the importance of cleaning digital junk. After that, during World Cleanup Day, hundreds of conscious people joined digital cleanups all over Ukraine. Together we removed 1585.8 gigabytes of unnecessary information just in one day. Undoubtedly, actions like this have a surprisingly powerful influence on people. Such acts create a shift in thinking and help individuals understand the need of responding to environmental disasters.

Personally for me, participation in the environmental movement is very important. I realized that only systematic actions will help to make the difference in a long-lasting way.That is how we can save our planet!

Digital cleanup is the right opportunity to take the first step to make our world cleaner. This kind of cleanup gives a chance to everybody to join and #TrashHack their lives, despite the quarantine situation. Start learning more about waste and share knowledge with your local community today!

Article by Ivan Kozlov @ivan_kozlov.ik