When people think of big tech companies, it is easy to think of them having little impact on the environment. Since their products are digital, there isn’t an environmental cost to their development and distribution right? Wrong. All tech companies have many climate-controlled buildings full of people using electricity, and software is not completely free either. While digital goods and products don’t require paper or shipping, they do require power hungry data centers to be stored and delivered.
Instead of ignoring their environmental impact, Microsoft has chosen to own the impact and in 2012 they committed to becoming financially accountable for their impact on the environment. To balance their impact, Microsoft is involved in several different projects which aim to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, preserve ecosystems, and rebuild forests. Internally, each division at Microsoft is responsible for their environmental impact which has spurred creativity and innovation toward making the company more sustainable.
“The idea is that not only are we reducing the carbon from our own operations, but the point of investing in carbon-offset community projects is to make a difference in emerging nations,” explains Tamara “T.J.” -- DiCaprio, senior director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft.
Making the world a better place for all plants and animals isn’t easy but Microsoft is focused on doing long term good for the environment. However, it isn’t all about plants and animals, helping people and improving their lives can also help them to cut down on carbon emissions. One project Microsoft was involved with gave more advanced stoves to families who previously relied upon charcoal stoves.
“The new stoves are good,” she says. “They have changed our lives. They have made us healthier, and also improved the environment. We don’t use as much charcoal. We don’t have to cut down as many trees.”
While Microsoft wants to compete with Apple and Google to deliver the best products to customers, they are doing so without losing sight of the role they play in preserving this shared planet. There is no reason why Microsoft can’t deliver the best products and having a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment.