What’s happening when you are binge watching online videos? Just imagine, when you are enjoying your favourite TV show or movie on Netflix, HBO Online, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu, you’re doing something bad for the environment right from your couch. How is it possible? How is binge watching online videos bad for the environment?
All the online videos that you are binge watching are stored on millions of servers all over the world and these servers are transmitting massive amounts of data all the time. Electricity is needed to run these servers on fossil fuels are burned to generate this electricity. These servers need to be kept cool so large amounts of water are needed and all this water is going waste.
How can you make binge watching online videos not bad for the environment?
Greenpeace has released its annual “Clicking Clean” report which rates digital companies according to their environmental performance. For example, companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and the data centre operator Switch has been rated highly for taking measures to make sure that they don’t operate their business in such a manner that it’s bad for the environment.
Normally, when we are using digital products and digital services (less paper and more email, for example) we think that we are cutting down on activities that are bad for the environment. Although to an extent, whether we’re watching online videos (and hence, not travelling to distant cinema hall and hence, burning fuel) or reading digital books we do help the environment, but only to a particular point. For example, if you are using online services like online video services, they require millions of servers. These servers are power guzzlers. In most of the cases, these servers are established near freshwater sources so that water is constantly available to keep the servers from setting themselves on fire. This water is used at the cost of drinking and farming water. In many instances, farm water has been used by server companies.
If binge watching online videos bad for the environment, what should you do?
Binge watching online videos is anyway bad not just for your health, but also for your family life and other, worldly pursuits. So, if you find yourself binge watching online videos on a regular basis, you anyway need to sit down quietly and pay attention to your daily routine whether you are worried about doing something bad for the environment or bad for yourself. It’s altogether a different issue.
But really, what can you do?
Instead of binge watching online videos, spend your time on activities that are good for the environment. Plant some trees in your neighbourhood and take care of them. Discourage people from indulging in activities that are bad for the environment. Don’t do business with companies that carry out their operations in such a manner that their impact is bad for the environment.
Environmental groups like Greenpeace encourage you to put pressure on your companies, in this case, companies that provide online videos, to adopt practices that are good for the environment. Efficient servers can be run that consume less electricity and less water. Water recycling plants can be established around server farms so that the water is not wasted and it can be reused for farming and other purposes. Energy efficient hardware can be installed.
The Greenpeace report says that after getting feedback from the environmental NGO, Apple and Facebook have committed to 100% renewable energy, making major investments in wind and solar energy resources.
Strange are the ways of the world, who would have thought that binge watching online videos would be bad for the environment?