Turning off your camera during Zoom calls is actually good for the environment

By this point, we've all been on both sides of it: speaking on a Zoom call, and feeling that sinking depth of human disconnection in your gut as you try to articulate something to a screen of blacked-out faces, and also being one of those blacked-out faces for any number of reasons (some of which are arguably more valid than others).

But a new study from Purdue University suggests that turning off your camera might actually have an altruistic purpose as well:

Despite a record drop in global carbon emissions in 2020, a pandemic-driven shift to remote work and more at-home entertainment still presents significant environmental impact due to how internet data is stored and transferred around the world.

Just one hour of videoconferencing or streaming, for example, emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide (a gallon of gasoline burned from a car emits about 8,887 grams), requires 2-12 liters of water and demands a land area adding up to about the size of an iPad Mini.

But leaving your camera off during a web call can reduce these footprints by 96%. Streaming content in standard definition rather than in high definition while using apps such as Netflix or Hulu also could bring an 86% reduction, the researchers estimated.

So there you have it. Next time your boss tells you to turn your camera on, you say "No, because climate change."

Turn off that camera during virtual meetings, environmental study says [Science Daily]

Image: Nicole Waleczek (WMDE) / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)