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How Can Bloggers Be Environmentally Responsible?

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of October 2007 Reader Questions 0 Comments

Today is Blog Action Day – the day where thousands of bloggers around the world are all blogging on the same topic – this year it’s ‘the Environment’.

So on a day like today I thought it might be good to have some discussion around the topic rather than me just spouting off on my theories – after the stated goals of Blog Action Day are to ‘get people thinking, discussing, questioning and talking about the environment’.

So my question for us bloggers is:

‘how can we as bloggers be involved in saving the environment?’

Surely there are a at least a few things specific to bloggers that could reduce our ‘footprint’ on this wonderful world we live in.

Here’s a few to kick us off:

  • Get a more energy efficient monitor
  • Turn off Your Computer at the End of the Day
  • Donate a Days Earnings to an Environmental Cause
  • Keep your computer longer and learn how to recycle it when you do upgrade (learn more about the ‘computer problem’)
  • Consider offsetting the carbon emissions from blogging with some tree planting

I’m sure there’s a lot more we could do – keen to read your suggestions.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. For those bloggers who are full time and working from home, you are already contributing by not adding car emissions (journeying to and from work).

    If you print out web articles, consider archiving on your PC instead, to save a few trees.

    Ask whether you need all those lights on, or whether running multiple large monitors all the time is overkill. Perhaps consider using a PC with a smaller power consumption (do you really need an all singing all dancing hi power graphics card etc).

  2. Impose a week without switching on the computer every two months. Hard isn’t it?

    If we want to see it in a positive light, bloggers impact way less on the environment than outdoors kind of people who use their car to get to their destination, to come back, do all sort of things and consume more oxygen :-)

    What bloggers can do is blog about it, not much more :-)

  3. Turn the standby time of the monitor really low (mine is 5 minutes – if I haven’t moved the mouse or typed something in 5 minutes, chances are I probably don’t need the screen either)

    MacBooks and some other low-energy Notebooks consume really little power (on normal usage about as much as a normal light bulb or 5 energy-efficient light bulbs). Though MacBooks have received some criticism for usage of some materials in their computers (or not reporting the usage)

    Do you really need all the devices all the time? Turn off Printer, Scanner, Webcam, Speakers, etc, when not in use.

  4. Cut out paper usage. Many bloggers still use good old paper & pen for making notes, and yet there are so many online tools like Google Docs, Google Calendar, a whole bunch of GTD tools. Really there shouldn’t be any need to write something down on paper ever again :)

    If you brainstorm, use a whiteboard with erasable markers rather than paper. There’s also computer tools for that too!

  5. I feared we would hit the same topic here Darren :).

    Good thing you are asking that question to readers though, while I tried to offer some tips coming from my personal experience. You can read it here:


  6. Try to find server farms that are eco friendly… (There don’t seem to be many of them) A lot of heat and power is used up in processing, managing and storing data on the web. Delete what you don’t use, don’t clog the servers up with piles of useless rubbish. Heat from server farm locations is in fact a potential energy source to be re-captured and re-used to power such systems… (potentially… I’m no physicist) As far as I know no-one seems to be considering this option…

    How about bloggers uniting to find ways to make the server farms more self sustaining. After all reducing the use of power is only half the problem, finding sustainable energy sources that are non-pollutant is another entirely.

    Cut down on power usage…
    Don’t waste power
    Don’t power it un-necessarily.
    Don’t charge up your phones unless you are actually going to use them…
    Don’t leave your heating on full blast all day
    Don’t travel if you can use technology to communicate as successfully instead.
    Do encourage others to think about how they use power.
    Do have fun coming up with funky new ways to harness power.
    Do blog about simple ways to save power

    Someone did once tell me that the only reason why we have street lights is because it is cheaper and more cost efficient to keep the power stations on overnight than turn some of them off and back on, so the power from that has to go somewhere… :S That to me seems like an archane way to run a power station… How about thinking up new ways to do such things… (would someone like to confirm this rumour…)

  7. “Donate a Days Earnings to an Environmental Cause”

    Who am I making the cheque out for 0$ to? ;p

  8. I had a similar idea. Here´s my take on what you can do with your computer to help the environment. Not just about blogging though:


  9. My site is all about the environment and the current discussion of global warming so I think I can add a few things to consider beside the typical turn off the computer suggestions.

    Be careful with compact fluorescent lamps since their true energy footprint from cradle to grave is actually worse than incandescent bulbs (see my article here). The straight tube ones are pretty good though and so are the high efficient ones that require special ballasts.

    Filter your water from you tap don’t buy bottles. The cost of producing the bottles (and then recycling them or worse – not recycling them) is a waste. Good filters can get most of the benefit of bottled water. If all of your water is filtered though make sure you are using toothpaste with fluoride since you aren’t getting it in your water.

    Turn off the TV when you aren’t watching it. I know bloggers that always have the tube on when they blog and that is really sucking up the power.

    Don’t just plant a tree. Plant a big shade tree in a position where it will protect your home from the sun or the wind. While you are at it, plant a tree at the home of the elderly lady down the street. It will make you feel better as well.

    Cut red meat out of your diet.The meat industry is a huge source of methane and that is the largest influencer of greenhouse gases in the short term. You can read more here.

    Finally, when you change computers – recycle. Don’t put the old computer at the street for it to be delivered to the local dump. Computers are filled with stuff that is bad for the groundwater.

  10. User your monitor – not your printer. For e-Mails, magazines etc.

  11. First we saved the monks in Burma, now we are saving the environment. Ain’t we great? I don’t think so.

  12. I just hope that blogging about the subject actually inspires “action” in people. Because without that, it’s just another great community…thing.

    Read my post

  13. This one might be a bit amibitious. Think of any way possible to use renewable energy; solar,wind, etc. to maybe offset the power used by our computer equipment.

  14. This post’s premise makes two, I think, faulty assumptions:

    1. That the environment needs to be saved
    2. That if it does, we can really do much about it

    Here’s what I think bloggers—or anyone, for that matter—can do for the environment… live your life responsibly. The Earth is resilient and not a delicate flower. We’ll be fine.

  15. Thanks Darren,
    Posting the info about blogactionday.com will help a lot. I saw a similar post on Dhamesh shah’s blog.


  16. The focus does not have to be only on computers.

    Bloggers are general consumers.

    Everything about entire home, work and leisure lifestyles can be re-evaluated

  17. Use gmail and keep your emails forever…no need to print them.

    When it’s cold out and the sun is shining open your binds/curtains/window shade and let the sun heat your home.

    My kitchen has a sliding glass door that faces east. In the morning the sun rises up over the mountains and beats down on the glass door. Opening the vertical blinds lets the sun’s heat in and really warms the kitchen.

  18. Use rewritable CD-Rs and DVD-Rs instead of throwing tons of them in the trash that is going to get sent to a landfill.

  19. Thought to self… I wonder what would happen if we did each/ all of the things on this list… how much would your electricity bill and gas bill go down by… Anyone willing to do all of these things for one month and compare the bill to their previous months one? No good me trying to show it on my bills as my bills are done as quarters… :(

    How much does each one of these things save in terms of energy… can we get some stats behind it… a way of giving proper data and meaningful information to our readers…

  20. Instigate a blogging tax on anyone who stays online more than 5 minutes per day.

    It’s a winner :D

  21. Instigate a ‘Blogging Tax’ on everyone so that all bloggers can contribute to decreasing global warming

    It’s a guaranteed Nobel Peace Prize winning idea :D

  22. Well, today I am a conservation agent ;-) I never watch TV, unless I am watching a video, probably once a week. I walk whenever I can instead of driving. I am vegetarian.

    How about “think before you write?” maybe we can start conserving human energy for topics and conversations that can make a difference.

    Thank you for asking, Darren.

  23. And of course, put a CSS print version getting rid of those big and useless category menus that take sheets and sheets of paper.. :-)

  24. Since my blog is in the gardening niche, I had an easy time writing about the environment. I pretty much do it all the time.

    Blog Action Day Post

  25. If you look at the big picture, the best thing for the environment would be for bloggers to stop posting for a while. My blog’s page stats show that people collectively spend 221 hours a day reading my blog from thousands of computers – that’s a lot of energy.

  26. I wrote about Trees and Paper for Blog Action Day. I called it Rock. Paper. Scissors. How Can We All Win?


  27. I did something interesting to help save the environment. I am in Borneo in the Asian leg of my round-the-world trip, and I’ve just adopted a baby Orangutan.

    It only costs around US$50/year to adopt a baby and that ensures that it will help save this endangered species which is 96.4% genetically similar to humans!

    I also made a video of the wild Orangutans I saw yesterday and posted it with a request for people to adopt one. You can see it at: Help Save Orangutans

    Many of the biofuel green efforts actually harm wildlife as much of the rainforest here has been destroyed to make way for palm-oil plantations!

  28. There are so many simple things that you and I can do – just as computer users even – that can help out our environment! I’ve also made a post over at my blog that you can take a look at if you want, read it here.

  29. How about blogging instead of wasting paper.

  30. How Can Bloggers Be Environmentally Responsible? Stop using the computer. Read books, and write letters (I am kidding of course)…

    To be serious, I think it is a little too much attention to energy sufficient monitors, not letting computer run in vain, unplugging the chargers when not in use… it is really not the problem that effects the environment. There are much greater and subtle things that kill us all slowly and steadily.

  31. i wrote a post about recycling your old computers and electronics, it saves a lot of hazardous waste form entering the ground in landfills and saves precious reusable metals from the old components.
    read it here

  32. Doug, you know it is very interesting… in Russia and Soviet union countries people do not think about such things as recycling old computers.

    No long ago a whole wagon of very dangerous chemical was spilled in to a river in Western Ukraine. There was very little buzz about it. But now even that part of Ukraine that was not contaminated by Chernobyl, is poisoned. And no one cares here. Why? Because we got used to it, to live in a land that is not good for living.

  33. As bloggers, we have the power to remind visitors in our posts of the importance of “thinking green”. We can also link to sites that provide detailed information and tips on how to save money and protect our earth at the same time.

  34. There are a disturbing amount of self plugs in this thread…

  35. Download the Snap CO2 Saver. It puts your computer on standby after a certain amount of idle time and tells you how many pounds of carbon you’re saving over time.

  36. How about blog directly from your phone?? I’ve been doing that.

    I must say that the blogging community can make a big ‘noise’ about this and force governments to act. More importantly it can influence others to take action. I think promoting planting of a tree is a nice campaign for environmentalists.


  37. Start electing pro-environment politicians who actually walk the walk.

    Look up their score on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard.

    Also, check if your state has a local LCV chapter that keeps scorecards for local politicians.

    You might be surprised at how well your favorite politician does. Or you might be terribly shocked to find out that your reps are all talk, and that by electing them, you’re part of the problem.

  38. Thanks for the heads up, I joined and posted after reading your post :) Way to get the word out!

  39. One thing you can do is to switch to an environmental friendly web host.

    You can find an up-to-date list over green web hosts at http://green-blog.org/green-web-host-list/

  40. Click on the power button on your display once in a while when you leave your computer. No need to keep it in standby all the time.

  41. Personally, I think any kind of behavioral change starts with your mindset. So much environmental writing talks about giving up things and deprivation. The first step to making changes stick is to reframe them in a positive way, like “I am lucky to have the chance to meet local farmers and try new foods,” instead of “I can’t eat out of season food.”

  42. I am a professional musician and blogger. Today I also participated in Blog Action Day. Here are the 10 ways a musician can help the environment: http://www.wiretotheear.com/2007/10/15/10-ways-a-musician-can-help-the-environment/

  43. Not limited to bloggers in anyway, but simply go change out some old incandescent light bulbs for new compact fluorescent or LED energy efficient ones in your office / home. Everyone can do their part, just take some action instead of writing about it. (I’ve already converted all of my light bulbs and am running some solar power saving some energy, so I get to write about it!)

  44. Get rid of your printer. I haven’t had one in almost three years and don’t even miss it. Okay, I miss it once in a while, but you really don’t need a printer… at all!

  45. Our local supermarket called SaveMore have implemented the green bag so we could limit using plastic bags on our groceries. I have availed of that and every time we buy using it there is a 2 pesos discount on any purchases.

  46. Buy local, if you’re in the market for pc equipment or any type of electronic for your online ventures, visit your local discount retailer.

    With patronizing a local business, you will reap two big green benefits:

    1.) You will be supporting your local economy
    2.) Less energy and fossil fuels (as in big bad oil) will be used in trasnport for your goods


  47. Blogging by nature is pretty green and the suggestions you’ve given are great. Another way bloggers can reduce their environmental impact is through green web hosts, hosting services that are powered with renewable energy. I’ve got a post about this topic on Greener Assets, b5media’s new green business blog. Great that you were part of Blog Action Day!

  48. bloggers could put up fotos of tree-huggers to promote that!

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