Digital Decluttering: A Sustainable Approach to Social Media Use

Written by
Iryna Komazova
January 15, 2024

In our fast-paced digital age, where information is at our fingertips, it's easy to get trapped by social media. While these platforms connect us globally, their environmental impact often goes unnoticed. Taking a closer look at your digital habits is a potential win-win for you and nature.

Feed-scrolling isn't as innocent as it seems

While a lot has been said about heat emissions, carbon footprints, and environmental pollution from smartphone production itself, the daily usage of smartphones also plays a key role in climate change.

172 g of CO2 emissions are produced from only one hour of smartphone usage per day. In a year, it exceeds the emissions of a flight from London to Paris. However, according to recent research, people use their smartphones (particularly for social media) twice as much: 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Cumulative impact

It is also worth taking some time to think about the scale of social media use globally. According to analysis by Greenspector, there were 4.33 billion social media users globally in May 2021. Across the 10 social media platforms studied, their combined use adds up to 262m tonnes CO2e. That’s 0.61% of global emissions, or almost the same as the carbon footprint of Malaysia.

Source: Greenspector

In addition to the environmental impact, social media can make us feel miserable and worthless when compared to successful stories we see online, as well as diminish our attention span, and compromise our privacy.

Limiting Distractions for a Greener Tomorrow

By practicing mindful consumption of digital content, we can reduce the demand for constant updates and lighten the dependence on energy resources. These simple measures will lead you to a more eco-friendly digital footprint and boost your productivity:

  • Unsubscribe from pages that don't make you happy but lower your self-confidence and drain your life energy
  • Turn off push notifications
  • Put group chats on silent mode
  • Check which apps take most of your screen time and limit their usage with dedicated apps or build-in timers
  • Consider putting a time limit on the app. This feature is built into most smartphones and provides a pop-up notification when your daily limit has been reached. It's very useful for habit building (or, more likely, breaking).

Social Media for Good

While the negative aspects of social media are evident, these platforms also have the potential for positive change. Activism, awareness campaigns, and eco-friendly community-building thrive on social media. Make these platforms serve a good cause by harnessing their power:

  • Train your social media algorithms to show you more of the content that you want engage with 
  • Subscribe to initiatives that make a difference in environmental protection (to our Instagram, for example 😉)
  • Share materials that can encourage your friends to live more sustainably

Our responsibility to care for the environment extends beyond physical spaces – decluttering our social media is a step we cannot simply avoid if we are to move toward a more sustainable future.

By figuring out the environmental impact of our digital habits, and then adopting greener practices, we can contribute to creating a cleaner world for generations to come.

Explore the eco-friendly approach to social media use in our digital age: reduce its negative environmental impact, get to grips with mindful consumption, and use it for positive change.
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