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This Tool Allows You to Calculate - and Offset - Your Digital Carbon Footprint in Real Time

Campaign from Tree Canada, Rethink, and Apply Digital seeks to tackle climate change digitally

This Tool Allows You to Calculate - and Offset - Your Digital Carbon Footprint in Real Time

[Credits: Adobe Stock, Anthony Boyd Graphics]

The internet is a bigger polluter than the airline industry. That’s the impetus for Offset Mode — a Chrome extension that calculates the carbon impact of your browsing, downloading, and streaming, and invites you to offset exactly what you use through a ‘micro-donation’ to Tree Canada’s National Greening Program.

Offset Mode, conceived by Rethink and created in partnership with Toronto-based digital innovation company Apply Digital, invites users to become aware of the impact of their online activity in real-time — and even offset it.

“We’ve all seen the headlines—that streaming movies is worse than driving a car, or that cat memes are going to destroy the planet—well, we wanted to quantify that for people,” says Danielle St-Aubin, CEO at Tree Canada, “Offset Mode tracks the volume of data transferred, then uses electrical grid data from around the world to determine the carbon footprint of your online activities—a footprint that will differ depending on the type of energy available in one’s region. It will also determine the exact donation amount needed to offset your digital carbon footprint so that your internet usage is carbon neutral. If everyone does that, it’s a huge step towards fighting climate change.”

Launched for Earth Day, Offset Mode, which can be used anywhere in the world, uses data from and the International Energy Agency to calculate your carbon footprint — and how much it would cost to neutralise your emissions — based on the type of energy available in your region. For example, how much does it cost to offset the impact of streaming a 3GB movie? It depends where you are. In South Africa, where electricity mostly comes from coal-fired plants, it costs about 15 cents Canadian, whereas in Switzerland — where hydroelectric and nuclear energy are the norm — it costs only a third of one cent. In Canada and the US, Offset Mode further breaks down costs by province and state, demonstrating the range and impact of local energy sources. (That 3GB movie costs about 11 cents in Alberta and 14 cents in Kentucky, compared to 0.25 cents in PEI and 1.26 cents in Idaho.)

“Modern problems require modern solutions,” says Hans Thiessen, partner and creative director at Rethink, “And our hope is that people take this possible solution as an opportunity to educate themselves about their digital carbon footprint. And if they offset it, even better. But at the very least, we hope this starts a conversation.”


Agency / Creative
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Categories: Corporate, Social and PSAs, Environment

Rethink, Wed, 13 Apr 2022 14:52:44 GMT