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Social media

Almost 4.5 billion people on the planet use social media on a daily basis. Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIN, Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter and their Chinese equivalents belong to the most used social media platforms in the world and are known to all. The CO2 impact of being active on these platforms comes from the amount of followers you have. This means that the same post can have a very different impact depending on if you share it with 100 followers or 10.000. Should the ecological impact of a post be a consideration to take into account before hitting the post button?

CO2 Impact Calculator

This calculator differentiates between posts that contain only text, images and minutes of video. This because the electricity consumed differs between the three categories. After clicking the ‘post’ button, your post gets published on the platform and reloaded each time a follower sees it. This makes the impact of a post to 500 followers instead of 50 followers - 10 times higher. With many accounts aiming for a high amount of followers, the impact becomes serious quite fast.


Do you want to embrace a greener digital lifestyle? Below we provide some tips. If you select one or multiple, it is stored locally. This is better for both CO2 emissions as it is for your privacy. By selecting a tip, it is added to your own battleplan, where you can always return to in the Take Action section.

  • Disable automatic video play

    By default, all the video’s embedded in your social media feeds will start playing automatically when scrolling past them. The extra energy used compared to just seeing the image of the post can be up to 10x as much.

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  • Use a time blocker

    Social media can be addictive. Software, like an app or browser extension, can help you reduce the amount of time you spend using social media. Think of apps like Moment, AppBlock, OffScreen, APP Detox and many others.

    Add to Take Action list:

  • Slow down on the clips and images

    One image containing post consumes the same amount of energy as a thousand text only posts. Although an image can tell a thousand words (literally in this case), ask yourself what the added value of each image actually is.

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  • Reduce the file size of the video

    Social media videos are often made in high resolution, resulting in large file sizes. However, they function perfectly well at a fraction of the size by reducing the resolution. You can realize energy savings by adjusting video quality settings in favour of decreasing resolution. This counts both for uploading and streaming the social media video post. You can exercise choice in your video streaming habits by turning to standard or low resolution, instead of having high resolution by default.

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Do you nurture a social media garden, park or forest?

Who posts a lot, gains followers. Who has a lot of followers, needs to post a lot. That is, in a nutshell, how the algorithmic strategy of social media platforms work. The goal is to have as many people as possible on the platform, for as long as possible. And they are succeeding quite well. Each day we spend almost 2.5 hours on social media. If we continue in the same pace; posting, scrolling, liking and commenting takes up almost 6 years of our life between the age of 16 and 70.

If you just post once per day, with an image and every now and then a short video clip to your 100 friends and family members following you, you will need to plant 1 tree a year in your garden to compensate for this behavior. If you do the same but with 10.000 followers, it becomes a small park with 141 new trees each year. And if you have the same habit with 350.000 followers on your account, you will need to double the amount of trees in the Vondelpark, 5.000 trees, each year to offset your personal impact. You can imagine which social media influencers need to fill forests with their activities.