We all love the internet. We probably wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves without it—and some of us would be out of a job entirely! But how does our reliance on the world wide web affect the environment, and is it sustainable in its current form? Claire Baldwin investigates.

“But the internet is a digital space! How does it affect the environment?” you may ask. Okay, so the actual internet itself isn’t the issue, so much as the so-called Internet of Things (or IoT).

This refers to all those devices that we actually use in order to access the internet. That’s smartphones, routers, credit card readers, 5G masts; basically any device or piece of tech that is able to gather data and share it with other devices. Without the IOT, the internet is pretty useless. It’s this hardware that’s causing concern.

While the continuing developments in the world of tech are extremely exciting, this fast pace of innovation means that each device has a very short shelf life.

Is our tech born to die?

Consumers have been conditioned to crave the latest model, annually replacing perfectly functional iPhones simply because they are perceived to be out of date. By harnessing the power of trends and the desire for the latest tech, manufacturers are able to sell more items simply because people want them.

Not only that, but manufacturers even sometimes design devices not to last. This is known as planned obsolescence. There are a couple of things at play here. First of all, it’s not really in a company’s interest to sell you a single product that will last you a lifetime when they can turn you into a repeat customer.

Secondly, as new technology is constantly being developed, what was once top-of-the-line quickly becomes dated. Designing devices to fail after a certain amount of time gives manufacturers a way to ensure that people are always using the latest models, improving brand perception.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Technological advancements have led to huge steps forward in everything from medicine to road safety. Where there is a need for a solution, tech companies have stepped in, providing gadgets that are better, more efficient, cheaper and smaller than their predecessors. But by developing tech to solve our problems, we’ve unknowingly created a whole new set of problems.

Wherever possible, we should continue to develop new and better ways to save lives and improve the world we live in, but manufacturers need to weigh up the environmental cost of the ever-changing IoT. Companies should implement robust tech recycling schemes, repair usable devices instead of replacing them, and develop tech solutions that are more durable and more sustainable.

Doing our part

At DWH, we’ve made it our mission to do as much as we can to offset the negative impact of our reliance on the IoT.

Earlier this year, we joined Ecologi (formerly known as Offset Earth), which helped us to become a climate positive workforce through reforestation. You might have read about it on our blog already. In the last 9 months, we’ve planted 547 trees and helped to reduce carbon emissions by 31.49T. Check out our profile or sign up for a personal or business account if you’d like to help out.

We’re also part of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Programme and use Apple Trade In, so any devices that we want to upgrade or no longer need can be resold or easily recycled to minimise waste.

We’re always looking for new ways to improve our sustainability as a business, so let us know if there are any other ­­­ schemes that you think we should get involved in!