While we’re all getting better at recognising and minimising the actions that are not so great for the health of the planet, there are still plenty of ways we can continue to improve things for our rad little home.
We understand how switching a light off when we leave a room helps keep electricity usage down yet go on to mercilessly flog our mobile phones every day without recognising the impacts they too have on the environment.
When it comes to Australia, it’s estimated our mobile data networks generate the same amount of CO2 emissions as one person flying between Sydney and Melbourne more than 3 million times a year. So while telecommunications can help us minimise some environmental impacts, like travelling for meetings, for example, the industry still has a sizeable carbon footprint. For individuals, this can be referred to as a carbon thumbprint – another name for the CO2 created by mobile network data usage.
Of course, asking us to yeet our phones into the void in this modern age is a massive ask, leaving the ball pretty firmly in courts of the telcos. Aussie telco Belong has returned that serve, officially becoming the first Aussie telco to be certified as carbon neutral under the Climate Active program, which is a partnership between the Australian Government and local businesses actively measuring, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions.
In other words, environmentally conscious smartphone use could be as simple as switching providers. Belong is even going a step further by launching an app that will help you calculate your own impact on the environment. It’s called Carbon Thumbprint and calculates mobile data use (outside of wifi) by asking you how much time you spend on things like social media, streaming and more.
It then translates that usage from megabytes to grams of carbon dioxide, giving you your output in kilograms. It even uses augmented reality to show a mind-blowing visual representation of your personal thumbprint.
In order to achieve carbon-neutral status, a company needs to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they put into it. Belong does this by investing in Aussie renewable projects like Telstra’s Murra Warra Wind Farm in Victoria, the Emerald Solar Park in Queensland and other certified UN carbon offset projects. Belong’s parent company, Telstra, also announced it was certified carbon neutral in early July.
On top of all that, you’ll be happy to hear that Belong is also conscious of its own office’s emissions. “We continually look to improve energy efficiency in our office footprint through optimising HVAC equipment, installation of fresh air cooling systems, high efficiency chillers, electronically commutated fans and lighting upgrades,” the company told Climate Active.
“In the office we have mobile handset recycle points where team members can dispose of old handsets knowing it’ll be recycled and not go to landfill. We also support and encourage team members who cycle, run or scoot to work by providing end-of-trip services such as showers and lockers.”
Anything that makes it easier to monitor and reduce our personal CO2 emissions has got a big fat green tick from me.Image: Getty Images / Gregg DeGuire