Across the world, instant messaging has become a common form of communication/ With more than 1.2 billion users, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app. Other popular messaging apps include Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Google Hangouts and Snapchat. With the rise of instant messaging apps, the popularity of SMS is declining. In addition to instant messaging apps, e-mails also play a vital form of textual conversation mostly for professional tasks.
No matter in which form the texting communication is taking place, one thing which is common is the data flow. The textual data flow consumes energy and therefore, it releases carbon dioxide which has a huge negative impact on the environment. It, therefore, becomes interesting to check which of these texting options provides the most sustainable way of communication.
Why Does Texting Have Ecological Impact?
One might think that different modes of texting communication like instant message, SMS and email have an environmental impact because they are sent via smartphone. And a smartphone uses electricity and hence, the consumption of energy by the phone only creates an environmental impact. However, the truth is that even activities like uploading WhatsApp Status, changing Whatsapp Dp or sending a text via Instagram requires energy to not only manage but also to transport and store this data and this contributes to the biggest ecological impact. The ecological impact of different types of texting is different because they use different technologies to operate. For instance, emails and instant messages use internet data flow but SMS use frequencies of conventional telephony.
Ecological Impact of SMS, Instant Message, Email
Before understanding the ecological impact of different means of communication, it is important to know what carbon footprint is. It is a measure that allows us to calculate the total climate change impact of something by a carbon dioxide equivalent metric. This parameter allows a person to compare the environmental impact of all the usage processes and manufacturing using the same metric.
According to Berners-Lee calculation, an average email emits 4 grams of carbon dioxide while on the other hand, SMS emits 0.014 grams of carbon dioxide. Another report stated that 140 bytes of SMS emit 0.00215 grams of carbon dioxide. Therefore, it can be concluded that the ecological impact of SMS is far lesser than that of emails. However, concrete data is absent regarding the carbon footprint that instant messages have. As instant messages use internet networks for transferring the data just like email, it can be remarked that the ecological impact produced by it is nearly the same as that of email and is of course more than SMS.
SMS Are More Sustainable
Even though SMS is more sustainable than emails and instant messages, the content of the SMS needs to be considered before making an accurate analysis. For instance, an SMS written within 160 characters is sustainable. However, if the character exceeds more than 160, the SMS splits into multiple SMS which increases the energy consumed by the SMS. Also, it needs to be noted that when texting through mediums like instant messages and e-mails, it becomes possible to send a wide array of attachments and thus, add more megabytes which further increases the impact on the environment.
The same holds true for SMS. Adding multimedia content in the SMS converts it into MMS which then uses other networks to deliver the message. Therefore, more than the type of texting mode used, it is important to consider what is the content of the message as it is an important deciding factor for calculating the carbon footprint. The maths for it is simple: more the content of the message, more energy will be used to transfer and store the data and it will emit more carbon dioxide.
Which Texting Mode To Use?
If you want to have a more sustainable life, you can do it by using SMS when you need to send simple small texts. For meeting other requirements, you can use either email or instant messages. Also, it needs to be noted that if someone is sending you any message, the type of device that you are using to read it also matters. For instance, reading a text on a small screen consumes less power than reading it on a large screen. 32,000 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted in a year by the texting exchange and we can do our bit to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide.