Save the Planet and Turn Your Camera Off

By: James Flippin · August 18, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cameras Off, Please!

Zoom (ZM) and other video calls are a mainstay of the modern workday. While smiling into a camera may be exhausting for remote workers, there is a new reason to keep cameras dark: saving the planet.

Researchers from Purdue, Yale, and MIT found that switching off the video during Zoom meetings doesn’t just reduce video call fatigue. It effectively reduces your carbon footprint.

Cooling Servers and the Planet

According to the study, keeping your camera off during video conferencing can lower the session’s carbon footprint by as much as 96%, almost completely eliminating the environmental toll.

The carbon footprint of a video call mainly stems from data centers, which require huge amounts of air conditioning and coolant liquids, an energy-intensive combination.

Zooming Out

The numbers speak for themselves: one single hour of video conferencing or streaming emits anywhere from 150 to 1,000 grams of carbon dioxide. That’s equivalent to 11% of the emissions from burning an entire gallon of gasoline.

And that’s not all. One hour on Zoom also requires between 2 and 12 liters of water. Zoom alone hosts 55 billion hours of meetings annually. If just a quarter of those were audio-only, it would eliminate 18.2 million pounds of CO2 emissions and save 27.5 billion liters of water.

These numbers provide an eye-opening reminder that our digital actions impact the world around us. By opting for audio-only calls when possible, disabling autoplay while streaming, and being mindful of our interactions with large-footprint tools such as AI, we can all do our part.

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