Impact of online business on Earth

How can the use of the internet influence our planet’s good health? What is the correlation between our online business and ecology?  And what negative impacts internet can pose to mankind by potentially affecting pollution levels?  This is what I’d like to discuss in this post today.

Last week Saint Francis Assisi Feast Day

Last week, on Tuesday 4th October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi was celebrated by the entire catholic community across the globe.  Yet, it is thanks to the latest encyclical letter by Pope Francis Laudato Sii, published in May last year, that the wider community, Christian or not, religious or not, has started embracing more actively the teaching of Saint Francis, who is venerated by many as patron of animals and ecology.

I shall not bore you with the details of the encyclical letter, other than to say Pope Francis, in his opening, reminds us how for many years the fate and safe future of this planet have been a concern by many, including catholic ranks.

[In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity: “Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”. He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and stressed “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”, in as much as “the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”] 

The above is an extract from the original Laudato Sii encyclical letter of Pope Francis, which you can read in its entirety by following the link.

I’m a blogger, how’s that to do with me?

At the same time, last week again I came across an article on BBC News entitled “Is the World Wide Web a waste of water?”.  It basically outlines the possibility, whenever we use the internet both on a computer, laptop, but even on our mobiles, that we may use up to 200 litres of water for every time that we download a gigabyte of data.  Imperial College London is the one leading the research, but they have not confirmed a specific figure yet, as too many uncertainties are surrounding the evidence yet.

Image result for earth

 

What’s water to do with the use of the internet?

I had to get my head around on how the use of internet and the potential wase of water as a result may work hand in hand.  But then I read on and it all became very naturally clear.

It is to do with the exchange of data that takes place whenever we push that button to download images, to send an email, but mostly, since the advent of social media, whenever we send and receive information by tweeting, or posting on Facebook and all the other social media platforms.

How does it work?

Do you remember the size of the first computers invented?  And do you remember the sizes of their servers?  Sometimes they would take the space of an entire room, and that would be for just one terminal.

Now, I am moving forward a few decades to compare the size of the latest server I have seen – at work, as it matters.   The firm I work for has approximately some 300 employers, so they manage a similar numbers of terminals.  But then the servers there must also cater for data exchange of those employers who sometimes work from home.  Well, that server there sits cosily in a not very big room.  And it is only a localised server, which will pass the information to bigger server ‘banks’, so to speak.

These mega galactic data storage centres – like big factories of data exchange – are the ones that is suggested have an impact on the well being of this planet. These centres use enormous amounts of electricity, which has an impact on water having to be used to produce a sustainable request. Also, a cool environment, or cooling mechanisms, have to be used to prevent these big ‘factories’ from overheating.  And this at times requires the employment of more water.

Now, on a planet that has been battling shortage of water for many decades, surely this cannot have a positive impact!

Corporate solutions

The BBC article went on explaining how big internet giants Microsoft, or Facebook or Google are taking steps to become more ecologically aware, and to find possible solutions to reduce the consumption of water in order to keep their data exchange centres alive.

microsoft-buildingIt appears that Microsoft is currently testing an underwater data centre – ideal, I suppose, as you would have full access to water supply for the production of energy, but also as it would be a natural cooling environment for the overheating reaction of the centre.

Facebook, on the other hand, have recently built a data centre in the Arctic Circle, again to make the most of a natural way of preventing overheating.

Other big corporate internet giants are pledging to use renewable energy, such as the one produced by wind farms, or to reduce the production of landfill rubbish to virtually reach 100% expectations.

But how can we as individuals and part of society contribute to make, or retain, a healthier planet in our small and relatively contained use of the internet?

Let’s be sensible

First of all, let us think of how many hours a day we use and exchange data.  It is not only the time spent working online – and for many of us, this is equally an enjoyable but also necessary activity, if we make online business our prime source of income.  I am also referring, however, to the many hours spent on our phones, sending digital texts, not to talk about chat exchanges on social media.

Think of the commuting time you spend on a train every day, if you are working away from home.  Now, think of all the people on that same carriage as you that are on their phones ‘chatting’ online.  As individuals, nobody will think to have a major impact on the global footprint if you do a bit of social media daily socialising.  But try putting together the amount of data exchange taking place in every carriage packed with commuters, and in each carriage of the train where you are.  And try multiplying that figure by the number of journeys that train makes every day.  The outcome will be mind blowing!  And that’s how each of us will compromise the good health of this planet.

samsung-in-flame

On a latest news, it was only of a few days ago the announcement by Samsung that they are withdrawing production of their smart phone Galaxy Note 7 after receiving health and safety reports by many customers that the phone catches fire.  The reason apparently lays in the fact that smartphones, and the Galaxy in particular, overheat quite easily and quickly.  This news should give a measure of how much heating energy we produce by using our smartphones, to the point that the more we use our phones for prolonged periods of time, the more we endanger our planet by creating unnecessary overheating on the planet and in the surrounding atmosphere.

Simple measures

I am far from suggesting that we  should stop communicating by social media, or we should stop using the internet to build our business and create a home based income.  I promote the concept wholly.  But we can all take simple measures that will help prevent polluting levels from increasing to even more disastrous levels.  My recommendations are the following:

  • Reduce spamming 

When on social media platforms, or forums, or community support online groups, try to reduce spamming.  I am not encouraging rudeness – it is basic politeness to thank for an answer to your question, or not to ignore other parties’ communication.  But try and stick to the point of the discussion, and don’t use all sorts of platforms to digress.  Each online conversation is focused on a specific subject, so it is up to you to find the right forum to talk about the weather, or yesterday to programme, or the latest Jamie Oliver recipe.

  • Switch off connection when not needed

Surely you do not need to be connected to the internet or to a floating wi-fi signal all the times.  If you know that there isn’t signal in the underground, or on a high peak mountain, just switch off the wi-fi connection until you know that you are in a receptive area.  Likewise, do not keep your bluetooth connection open if you know that you are not going to use the relevant app.  In other words, switch the data collection facilities only when you know you are going to use them.

  • Switch off your devices when not needed

The same recommendation your employer wants you to follow at work, when you are kindly asked to switch off your screen in order to avoid unnecessary consumption of electricity, should also be followed with your own devises for personal use.  So, do not leave your tv set on stand-by.  Switch it off completely.  Likewise, switch your laptop off (unless you are asked to keep it plugged in for software updates), if you taking a break from your online work for a couple of hours.  And again, do not overcharge your mobile phone, or your portable devices, but allow the battery to run low before recharging – this will avoid the battery to overheat through the constant recharging, as well as allowing to make complete use of the energy stored on the battery unit.

 


 

The above are only but a few of the steps that we can take not to make matters worse.  But I am sure you have plenty of alternative suggestions to shout out.  If so, do share them with us, and leave a message below.  Thank you.

 

 

 

What are the benefits of working at home

Recently I have come across an article published on the UK daily paper The Telegraph, which listed down the 10 highest paid jobs you can do from home.

The list of course did not limit to 10 single jobs, but went on to giving ideas about alternative jobs as well.  Before doing so, however, the article explained that the number of people that have had a change of career and opted for working from home has grown in recent years particularly after the economic recession that has hit the entire planet.  Many people have lost their jobs in the last few years, less vacancies have become available to new work force, i.e. degree holders or school leavers, and other jobs are paid less than they used to, so as to making difficult for people who have had a career break for family commitment, i.e. us mums, to get back into a job that is no longer sustainable with the increased child care expenses.

All of the above has forced people to rethink their priorities, namely provide an income for themselves and their families, whilst trying to use their skills or newly acquired skills to reinvent their careers.  The labour market have now started considering self-employed freelancing!!

 

Working from home
Working from home

 

What are the benefits of working from home

There are a few disadvantages to working from home, which I will outline later on, but these are immediately overcome by the benefits that start screaming at you from starters.

You are your own boss

Especially if you come from a corporate background, from a 9-5 job with bosses who have been on your case day in, day out in order to impress their bosses, you will immediately find out that you are going to be your own boss.  You will decide how hard (or not) you want to push yourself, what your targets are going to be, how to reach them, which line of work to embrace.  Yes, certainly when it comes to earnings, and especially at the beginning, you may feel pressurised by bills to pay, but think it that way: if you were unemployed, you are not going to make it worse for you by trying a new business avenue; if you were employed, and wanted to take a career break, or give your career a different direction, you would haven wise enough to have put some dollars aside before embracing that change in career, for the ‘rainy days’.

Corporate image, a thing of the past
Corporate image, a thing of the past

No more 9-5

You must be extremely self-disciplines, don’t get me wrong, as setting up your own business or making a living through freelancing, hence establishing your profile, is all hard work.  But on the positive, you are not restricted to the 9-5 working hours.  And this may be particularly of help if you have a young family to manage as well.  So, if you are trying your hand at online business, you can start from as early as ‘crack-o-dawn’ knowing that you will need to get the kids ready for the school run at 830am.

But you can adjust your hours to your own convenience also if you are trying to establish your home-based job as a second source of income.  In other words, you will find that you do not have to be glued up to a chair even when the work load is inexhistent as you have been paid to be there till 5pm.  Or you will no longer need to ask your boss for longer lunch to go to an emergency dentist appointment.  The magic word is FREEDOM!!!

More time with your family

People often end up believing that by working at home, you end up working less than if you were working in an office under the watchful eye of a manager.  This could not be further from the true.  In fact when working for yourself, you have t o be prepared, especially to start off with, to put as many hours as you can – hard working is the new motto here.  But it is also true that, thanks to reduced commuting time and reorganisation of your working day and week, you can actually spend more and better time with your family.

I will never cease being grateful for always being in very good employments in my adult life, including when my son was born.  Nevertheless, had I been more creative at the time to take the plunge and reduce my office hours to embrace freelance activities, I can’t help thinking that this would have enable me to spend a little bit longer with my baby, rather than seeing him only a few hours at the end of the day.

Working from home is healthier

Enjoy the freedom of working from home
Enjoy the freedom of working from home

Well, it is certainly healthier for your mental health.  It has been proven that by reducing commuting, by not having to account constantly to someone higher up in managerial hierarchy, by not feeling stuck in a dis satisfactory 9-5 job situation, not only your stress levels reduce dramatically, but you end up becoming more productive. And that, I suspect, is due to the fact that you work (and you work hard, don’t get me wrong) for your ‘baby’, for your project, for which you end up feeling responsible, but which will also give you the utmost sense of fulfilment, once you have brought to conclusion successfully.

And success is also facilitated, when working from home, by the fact that you will make your working environment what is best suitable for you.  You may want to have your dog sit next to you – which most working environments do not allow – or you may want to work in your pyjamas one day, as you woke up with an idea, which you don’t want to stop working at till it is established.  In other words, whatever goes for you and whichever situation is better conducive to your working practice, it will be fine, as you are your own boss and nobody else.

 

Working from home requires determination

Naturally, it would be foolish of me to portray an absolute ‘hunky-dory’.  What I’m about to outline are not necessarily disadvantage of working from home, but rather aspects you need to be prepared for when embracing home based jobs.

 Working on your own

Working from home can become quite isolating.  You no longer work as part of a team, you no longer sit at a desk surrounded by a group of other co-workers.  But it is in fact likely that you will comfortably sit on your sofa, or even in bed, wearing your baggy track suit bottoms and slippers in an empty home after your partner has gone to work and the kids are at school.

If you enjoy the comradery and the banter of an office  environment, you may need to source all that support from elsewhere whilst working from home, like from a support community or online forum, or through social media.

Self-discipline

Make sure working from home doesn't turn messy
Make sure working from home doesn’t turn messy

And the above point brings me nicely to the subject of self-discipline.  I expect one of the most appealing aspects of working from home is that sense of freedom that you will never experience when working in a 9-5 office job, or a job based in a workshop, in a retail or academic or factory environment – only to mention but a few scenarios.  But sometimes that freedom can be taken to extremes that can become counter-acting on productivity.

You need to be focused and motivated enough to ensure that you work the right amount of hours to make your home based venture financially viable.  In other words, it doesn’t matter when and where, but if you don’t put the hours, especially initially when you need to establish your job or yourself as freelancer, then you will struggle to see the expected results.  And again, it is all very good to work in your pyjamas, so long as it doesn’t give in to laziness and tendency to take longer and longer breaks to watch the weather forecast on telly, to then extend your break to a whole session of morning programs.

Indeed we are not working machines, and we must take breaks every so often.  But it is recommendable that you go out for a brisk walk.  It is deemed that you may get more creative ideas from 10 minutes walk than from 3 hours sitting at a desk.

It is also recommend per that you give a structure to your day, with feasible to-do lists, which you try to adhere to and tick off every time you complete a task.

Beware of quick earners

If you want to get rich quick, this is not the right avenue.  In fact, if you do know of such possibility, please do let me know, as I am sceptical of any entrepreneurial proposal where you are promised fast earnings.

Working from home, and particularly when you end up establishing an online marketing / affiliate business, can become very profitable.  But the start is always slow, and you must be prepared for low or no income to start off with.  It will always take a relatively long time before you can start seeing the first earnings.

So, my advice – and I shall never tire to warn in this direction – is to beware of scams!!!  You should never have to pay for basic access to job opportunities, but you should also be aware that it may take a while before you start making a regular living through working from home ventures.

 


 

Do let me know your thoughts with me about working from home. Do you work from home? What do you like most about home working? Would you recommend it, and why?  Leave a message, share your experience.