Before we get into this, yes, corporations are at large responsible for the majority of the pollution and destruction of environments on planet Earth. This isn’t to say that you should give up, but instead, you should try and make small changes at home to reduce your carbon footprint and push humanity towards a greener Earth.
Elon Musk and every other billionaire are, of course, going to keep flying around in their private jet until humanity decides that the rich need to be held accountable for their gross mistreatment of everyone around them, but until then, we can all do small things to help. If you’re a gamer, there are a few things you can do at home to reduce your overall carbon footprint.
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint, in its simplest form, is the total amount of greenhouse gases created by your actions. Almost everything we do leaves a carbon footprint; whether you’re driving to work, sending an email, or using a microwave, you are leaving a carbon footprint. It’s important to understand this, and it’s important to understand that it’s impossible not to leave one.
Just flicking on a lightbulb consumes electricity which is generated in a way that releases greenhouse gases. Even a solar panel will generate a carbon footprint during its first few years of operation before eventually becoming carbon neutral. Does this mean that you should avoid turning on the lights in your home or switching to solar? No, not at all.
The main idea is to continue living your life while at the same time minimizing your carbon footprint. Understanding what generates greenhouse gases is the first step you’ll need to take to minimize your footprint. Things like devices left on while you’re not home, physical copies of games, and more all create more greenhouse gases, and you can easily avoid them by making small changes to your daily habits. Here are the biggest ways to reduce your carbon footprint as a gamer.
Download Games Rather Than Buy a Physical Copy
While physical media is mostly gone in the new digital age, physical copies of games still exist. Unless you’re purchasing a used copy of a bygone system like the PS2 or the Dreamcast, you’re better off downloading the game to your computer or console. This still isn’t carbon-free, but it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95%.
Consider what goes into a physical copy besides the actual manufacturing process of the disk and case. These products or raw materials are often taken from overseas, then sent on large cargo ships burning insanely polluting bunker fuel. From there, they have to be distributed across the country via trucks burning diesel until they reach the storefront where they sit. You then drive in your car to the store and purchase the game before driving home again.
That’s a lot of fuel being burnt compared to the simple act of downloading the game from the cloud and spending energy powering your computer, the internet, and the data center storing the game. Can you see how insane of a difference digital downloads make? Switching to digital downloads is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint.
The reduction in greenhouse gases has only gotten better over time as the internet becomes more efficient and countries switch to renewable energy sources. Switching to solely playing digital downloads is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, and let’s be honest; it’s a lot more convenient than heading to the store whenever you want a new game.
Don’t Upgrade Your Setup Every Year
For a lot of people, this isn’t a problem, thanks to the rising costs of graphic cards and the fact that it’ll probably be another decade before we get the next generation of consoles. Still, if you’re a PC gamer with a computer that can run every game at ultra, there’s no need to upgrade your machine.
Even if you can’t run the brand new triple AAA title at ultra settings, is there really that much of a difference between high graphics and ultra? Do your wallet and the planet a favor; wait a few years before upgrading from your 3060 or whatever high-end card you currently have.
This also applies to mice, keyboards, and headsets. Do you really need the new mouse with additional macro buttons on the side? Or the Bluetooth headset that promises it’s clearer than the one you have?
Remember, these products are manufactured overseas and sent on cargo ships burning bunker fuel. Being satisfied with what you have and holding off on new purchases is a great way to keep more money in your wallet and reduce your carbon footprint.
Power Your Devices Off When You’re Not Home
While most devices have standby modes that use as little energy as possible, it’s not a bad idea to power off or unplug devices when you’re not using them. Devices like routers and modems take a while to power up and already only use a handful of watts, so you shouldn’t worry too much about those.
Devices like sound systems, video game consoles, and TVs all draw power even when switched off. Hooking everything up to one surge protector is an easy way to power them all off and avoid unnecessary power draw.
You can also do this with your monitor, PC, and any other devices. This will also protect your expensive computer from lightning strikes, which can fry it if you don’t use a surge protector. Using less electricity in your day-to-day life is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Get Your Energy From Renewable Sources
If the energy that powers your devices is from a renewable resource, you’re already cutting down on emissions and your carbon footprint. Solar panels used to be expensive, and they still can be, but they’ve definitely become more accessible for large parts of the population.
With tons of government rebates available, you may want to look into getting solar panels on your roof. This isn’t a solution for everyone since some parts of the world don’t get similar hours of sunlight, but a house in Arizona can easily make use of solar power.
You can also look into where your energy from the private or public utility company comes from. If your utility company already gets the majority of its energy from renewable sources like dams, solar, air, or geothermal plants, you’re already saving on greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s not to say your wallet wouldn’t thank you, either. With a massive increase in utility bills over the last few years, finding a way to cut down on energy use or the cost of energy itself is a smart investment. Solar panel grants and rebates won’t be around forever, so make use of them while you can to reduce your carbon footprint.