4 tips for sustainable technology use

What little changes can companies make to make a big difference when it comes to the use and disposal of electronic products?

Gemma Lomas Yara Alves

by Gemma Lomas, Yara Alves

In an era where technology is heavily relied upon across the globe, almost 6 billion people use the internet. We have grown increasingly dependent on our electronic gadgets, from computers and laptops to smartphones and tablets — and even smaller electronic devices like smartwatches and wireless earphones. 

A dominant feature in many private lives, technology is also present in almost all business operations worldwide. With so many establishments using and reusing their electronics, there’s a huge risk for unsustainable practices to flourish, harming our environment even further. 

Practicing what we preach, this article shares four environmentally friendly tips from Enhesa’s own HR department for being more sustainable with your technology, whether at home or in the workplace. 

1. Delete your emails

Approximately 333 billion emails are sent and received daily around the world, with a projected increase to almost 400 billion by 2026. With so many messages popping in and out, it can be very easy for people to hoard emails in their inbox. You read an email, reply if needed (another email added to the growing global tally), and perhaps store it away in a subfolder, never to be seen again.  

Even if it’s hidden, out of sight, or never referred to again, that one email will keep loading each time you open your inbox. The energy to download a single email contributes varying quantities of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere: 

  • 0.3g for a spam email 
  • 4g for a regular email 
  • 50g for an email with a photo or hefty attachment 

It’s estimated that if every person in the UK, for example, sent one less “thank you” email per day, it would save 16,433 tons of carbon a year — that’s the equivalent of over 80,000 flights from UK to Madrid. Additionally, if all email users deleted ten emails per day, it would save 39,035 metric tons of carbon dioxide. 

It’s easy to disregard the sending and receiving of emails, dismissing those online messages as simply floating through the ether, but in reality, electronic signals are being sent from your Wi-Fi router along wires to the local exchange, through telecoms companies and data centers that all rely on electricity, to end up at their final destination on another computer. 

Many other industries and operations already permeate our atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, so consider deleting your old emails rather than storing them, to play your part in protecting our planet. 

2. Search engines that give back

As we become more aware of the harmful impact our daily online activities have on the planet, some organizations have found ingenious ways to manipulate our internet usage for good. One of these comes in the form of search engines. 

Each search you type into these engines contributes to the effort to remove plastic from the ocean, plants trees, or donates revenue to conservation organizations. 



Marketed as “the greenest way to search”, Ecosia plants one tree for every 50 searches. Each tree planted in more than 35 countries removes around 50kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. They also grow around 500 native species with local communities. With 20 million users worldwide, Ecosia has planted more than 200 million trees since their origin, and raised almost EUR 3 million in January 2024 alone.



For every five searches on Oceanhero’s search engine, users recover one plastic bottle from the ocean. Water pollution has skyrocketed, with 18 billion pounds of plastic infiltrating our oceans each year — or the equivalent of one truck full of plastic every minute. Not only does plastic pollution damage our fragile ecosystems, microplastics can invade human sources in cosmetics and food. So far Oceanhero has recovered over 90 million bottles and counting!



Similarly, every search on Ekoru’s web extension raises funds to conserve our oceans and marine life. Their ad revenue is donated to Big Blue Ocean Cleanup and Operation Posidonia to clean our oceans of plastic pollution. A search on Ekoru generates 4.4g less carbon dioxide than traditional search engines, so not only are searches contributing to promoting cleaner water, they’re also emitting less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.



In a landscape where online users and consumers are building their understanding of sustainability and conservation, even traditional search engines like Google are making decisions to help the fight. When you activate ‘Dark Mode’ in the Google Chrome web browser, it has the potential to use less energy and preserve battery life for longer periods. 

3. Use devices for longer

Computers and laptops are primary perpetrators when it comes to overconsuming energy and electricity. Repeatedly turning your device on and off within a short timeframe — such as over your lunch break at work — or frequently plugging and unplugging the charger, creates surges in electricity. Further, your computer will continue to absorb electricity even if the battery is at 100% capacity. 

What can you do? 

  • Ensure you’re turning your laptop off properly, rather than simply closing the screen to rest, as standby mode continues to consume energy 
  • Unplug your device as soon as it’s fully charged to prevent it from absorbing more energy than necessary 

4. Reuse and recycle

Many organizations and legislation aim to combat the improper disposal of waste, or the impact of the increasing popularity of “fast” products like fast fashion and buying the next phone model without necessity. New York, for example, was the first US state to pass the Digital Fair Repair Act, requiring manufacturers to comply with ‘right to repair’. Manufacturers must make the necessary tools, parts, and instructions available to consumers to perform their own repairs on electronic devices. 

Caring for your electronic devices to extend their lifespan is one small way businesses and individuals alike can help the planet. If your laptop, phone, or other device does need replacing, consider refurbished models in place of brand new. Found in thrift stores and charity shops, second-hand products are a more sustainable way of replacing your broken or faulty goods, rather than committing to the constant reproduction of new materials and packaging. To ensure you’re supporting sustainable practices, make sure you investigate the brands you’re purchasing from to avoid falling victim to greenwashing.  

If, on the other hand, your device is still working but you need an upgraded model, consider donating your used device instead of sending it to landfill. Components like lead, mercury and other toxins can contaminate the soil and nearby water at landfill and recycling sites. 

Further reading

If you’d like to learn more about the potential harm electrical and electronic (EEE) devices can cause, read our free report: Chemicals in electrical and electronic equipment 

If you’d like to learn more about packaging and waste, read our free report: Packaging and packaging waste report