Swap to sustainable: small changes that make a big difference

Marco Fanizzi at Commvault argues that the environment could benefit hugely if every business prioritised sustainability

In today’s society, with activists like Greta Thunberg regularly making the headlines, it is hard to ignore that we – intentionally or not – are destroying our planet. It is common knowledge that actions, such as recycling materials and conserving water, should be taken by individuals in order to play our part in protecting the environment, but advice is not so clear for businesses on how they can make a difference on a bigger scale.  

The environment could benefit hugely if every business, across the globe and spanning all industries, prioritised sustainability and increased its efforts to be environmentally friendly. In particular, the technology industry could be instrumental in resolving the climate crisis, with the potential to develop innovations to contribute to discovering the solution. However, in order to do so, we need to understand how.

Conversations around our environmental footprint and how best to reduce it have dominated the media for many years, especially since the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was launched in September 2015. The United Nations described the Agenda as a “plan of action” to strengthen universal peace and end poverty and pollution. In order to do so, it outlined five key areas – people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership – and started discussions on how to achieve these goals which have been ongoing within the organisation and in the media since.

COVID’s carbon footprint

The global COVID-19 pandemic of the past 18 months has disrupted every business, forcing many out of the office and into remote working, thus leaving them reliant on digital means to continue operations and survive. With people spending more time at home due to enforced lockdowns, data usage has soared since early 2020. As of April 2021, worldwide internet traffic is 25%-30% higher than pre-pandemic rates as the world became reliant on the internet for more work, social and leisure activities.

However, this growth in internet traffic and data usage is bad news for the environment. The carbon footprint of our devices, data and internet usage makes up an estimated 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions and, with global internet traffic on the rise, this figure is set to double by 2025.  

Instructions for individuals on being environmentally responsible with their data are easy to follow, such as turning off your broadband box at night and when it’s not in use, or making your devices last longer rather than upgrading at the first opportunity. But what exactly can businesses do?

Discard your data (if you don’t need it!)

What makes a business’ environmental impact so difficult to manage is the large amounts of data which every business stores, no matter its size or sector. Most businesses store their data in physical data centres which operate 24 hours a day, powered by the burning of fossil fuels – an unsustainable energy source which produces harmful gases that damage the environment. 

However, approximately 70% of a business’ data is ROT: Redundant, Obsolete or Trivial. This means that it’s not essential for the operation of the business, with the majority of the data storage being taken up by unnecessary copies of data, or users’ personal files that should be stored elsewhere. One way for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint is simply to reduce their data production. With less data produced, less space will be required to store it and thus fewer fossil fuels will have to be burnt in order to run the data centres.

Intelligent data management solutions can assist businesses in learning the lifecycle of their data, enabling them to follow it from the corporate network to the data centre and help them understand when and what to discard in order to cut their carbon footprint.  

As a result, in order to be successful in cutting down their data, businesses must be able to answer questions to understand its value. For example, does this data need to be stored and, if it does, for how long? How often will it have to be used and, answer dependent, where should it be stored for the appropriate access? Being able to answer these questions will allow businesses to start to reduce their data production and maximise sustainable cloud storage instead.

Working as a global community

With data growth constant and inevitable, it is essential that changes are made quickly to begin to reverse the damage that we’re currently doing to the planet. With many businesses only just starting to implement their sustainability policies, we cannot expect results overnight, but every business that makes a change is a step in the right direction. We are part of a global community and we need to play our part in protecting our home. 


Marco Fanizzi is Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Commvault

Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

© Business Reporter 2021

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