Measuring personal carbon emissions lie at the heart of measuring environmental impact. Personal footprints have a bad reputation. Originally a tool for corporations to shift the blame of climate change to invidiuals[1], they're also used to create a sense of guilt.[2]

Our goal

Perhaps you've probably calculated your carbon footprint in the past by using a calculator.

Understanding your emissions, however, can do more than simply In fact, seeing emissions through the professional lens as an Internet practitioner is important to understand your work as part of a larger industry of which you are part of.

Incentives for outsourcing digital labor[edit | edit source]

The shift of work towards outsourced international labor is part of a larger trend aimed at reducing organizational costs. Outsourced labor can save up to thousands of dollars compared to hiring from the local workforce.[3] But these economic incentives driving a rise in gig workers also carry environmental implications:

  • Reducing the need for environmental obligations. Organizations do not need to disclose the carbon footprint of their outsourced emissions, which means that they can make their real emissions invisible by hiring services overseas.
  • Some environmental regulations such as carbon taxes can cost a lot of money. This incentivizes companies to outsource their carbon footprint elsewhere.[4]

Thinking about your own practice will also help you wear the end users' shoes. Many of the decisions you and your work team make about products, services and policies make an impact on how users browse the web, what technologies they adopt or what devices they purchase.

Your work decisions also shape how you collaborate with your peers. For example, the technologies you use for collaboration, how often your team meets in person, whether you drive to an office, or whether a conference is to be held in-person or online, academic conferences

Aspects to consider[edit | edit source]

This activity will consider three specific emission areas: your workspace, travel and online activity.

We will consider

Using your fact sheet, start calculating some of the following items and write them down.

Activity[edit | edit source]

Measure your personal footprint by clicking each of the following tabs and following instructions.

Online behavior
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  • Estimate your footprint using a calculator:
    • Use the secondary tab to estimate the footprint of your office equipment (laptops, electronics, clothes, paper-based products).
    • Use the house tab to estimate your energy usage during work hours. If you live alone, you can consider measuring your energy usage with your home meter or using another tool.
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  • Estimate your footprint using a calculator:
    • Use the car tab and estimate your footprint by considering how much you use your car for work: commuting to the office, visiting clients, or in-person meetings.
    • Use the flights tab to estimate your usual flights for work and professional conferences.
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  • For your browser activity, you can use The Shift Project's excellent Carbonanalyser browser extension.
  • Do you use a crypto wallet as part of your work? You can calculate its carbon footprint using
  • If you use Zoom for videoconferencing, estimate your emissions with thiscalculator.[5]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Solnit, R. (2021, August 23). Big oil coined ‘carbon footprints’ to blame us for their greed. Keep them on the hook. The Guardian.
  2. Mallett, R. K., Melchiori, K. J., & Strickroth, T. (2013). Self-Confrontation via a Carbon Footprint Calculator Increases Guilt and Support for a Proenvironmental Group. Ecopsychology, 5(1), 9–16.
  3. Iyer, N. (2021, August 31). Remote work risks exploiting workers in low-income countries. Quartz Africa.
  4. Yang, Y., Goodarzi, S., Jabbarzadeh, A., & Fahimnia, B. (2022). In-house production and outsourcing under different emissions reduction regulations: An equilibrium decision model for global supply chains. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 157, 102446.
  5. Mytton, D. (2020, November 16). Zoom, video conferencing, energy, and emissions. David Mytton.

Discussion[View | Edit]

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