April 22, 2024

3 Tech-Centric Ways to Promote Sustainability

Earth Day

Coding against climate change

We’ve all heard the standard strategies for reducing our carbon footprint — take the bus instead of driving, reduce red meat, shop local, etc. But we often forget about the impact of our tech.

The emissions created by our technology may be less obvious to us, but they’re probably more substantial than you think! In 2018, Bitcoin alone used 0.5% of the world’s energy consumption this year, making its daily use only slightly less than the energy consumption of Ireland.

As a planet full of people, we are all still learning how to use our tech in a way that promotes sustainability. In honor of Earth Day, here are three tech-centered ways that coders (and you!) can paint the world green.


Pollution is largely caused by the waste people throw away. But individuals and businesses can use technology strategically to lessen their use of paper, plastics, and other waste materials. One easy example of this is companies’ near-ubiquitous use of automated software to track employee hours, replacing time cards and printed sheets that are eventually thrown out. Another more recent example is employees and companies who have embraced the recent shift to remote work! Remote work reduces air pollution in cities and minimizes the use of energy-hogging office spaces. These small actions can certainly have an impact, but they’re also imperfect — keep reading to see why.


The problem with using tech to reduce pollution is that, as physical waste dwindles, digital waste accumulates. When individuals or businesses transfer their hard-copy files to digital records, the Cloud burgeons — and Cloud data is stored in huge data centers filled with thousands of hard drives using a mind-boggling amount of energy.

So, what can you do? Well, you can make a big difference by frequently deleting obsolete or useless files you have stored on the Cloud. And even your daily “throwaway” habits can add up to a mountain of saved carbon. Consider all of the little social emails we shoot back and forth — “thanks”, “got it”, “will do”, “haha”. After examining email usage, UK energy firm OVO found that if every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email per day, it would cut 16 tons of carbon each year. What’s more, they also found that half of us send one-word emails to people “within talking distance”. We can lower our carbon output if we think more intentionally about the cumulative impact of our digital footprints!


Software development tends to include files, codes, or bits of software that are unwanted by the user — digital clutter often called “bloatware”. This bloatware takes up space on a computer’s hard drive and makes excessive demands on its resources. And that’s not all — software written in this way consists of a large number of useless functions and lines, obliging computers to perform more calculations, resulting in higher energy consumption.

Enter green coding. Green coding refers to code that is written to minimize energy consumption. It’s a way of writing code that minimizes bloatware and maximizes elegance and efficiency to diminish the demand that code places on physical servers. Green code can also increase battery life for mobile devices, save watts, maximize power, and combine resources for greater efficiency in solving a task. Coders and tech companies can make their software part and parcel of their sustainability efforts by judging that software’s performance based on its “green”ness as much as on its functionality, security, and scalability.

These small tweaks may not zero out large-scale emissions, but they’re still worth talking about. By shining a spotlight on the footprint of our daily software, we hope to make the value of lower-energy code feel tangible. Interested in learning more about TCS’s commitment to greening the tech world? Check out our Code 4 Change initiative, which uses the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to inspire coders to develop tech-based solutions to real world problems like climate change.