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Ecology and filter-responsibility

Posted by Z. Manda | Jun 04, 2021

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As we often say, filters are made by professionals for professionals, and can be used for all types of objectives. However, it is clear that very few companies exploit the possibility of using filters for a variety of applications. Indeed, it is not uncommon that the use of the filter stops at the promotional level. For this reason, we will talk in this article about a particular use of this technology to address environmental issues: the Eco Filter.

Two inseparable: the filter and the engagement

When we talk about engagement, we often look at only one side of this word that is inseparable from augmented reality filters. Marketers tend to see audience engagement, that is, successfully engaging the audience and driving them to action, that results in sales increase. Whereas for those who are fighting for a cause, engagement is more about expressing their values and even the meaning of their existence.

While these are two very important aspects of the word, the true meaning of commitment is only achieved when they are combined. It is, admittedly, difficult to satisfy both goals at the same time, but with a Snapchat or Instagram filter the problem becomes less thorny. For this reason, filters are an important ally in preserving the ecology, as they allow us to affirm our commitment and engage others to follow. How can filters help protect the environment?

Let’s take a look at digital pollution

To talk about the ecological impact of augmented reality filters, we first need to talk about pollution, in this case digital pollution. First of all, pollution is the act and the result of the introduction of any element harmful to the environment (pollutant) into it. Pollutants can be both natural (volcanic gas) and artificial (human activity). We also talk about environmental footprint to refer to the impact of human activity on the ecosystem in terms of both consumption and pollution. The carbon footprint is a part of this impact, it measures the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the activity in question.

We speak of digital pollution when we are talking about all the adverse effects that digital technology generates. This concerns not only the pollution generated by the production of this technology and its use, but also its waste at the end of its life. The carbon footprint ( just to mention it) of digital technology is very large. Indeed, it concerns gas emissions during the extraction, transport and transformation of raw materials, as well as emissions generated by power plants, data centers, etc., during the use of the made technological equipment. This is alarming, but what does an AR filter have to do with it? It's very simple as a filter can help save the environment, as we'll see.

A really eco-friendly filter!

It is very likely that you think that an eco-friendly filter is nothing new. In fact, many brands already use effects to talk about their environmental commitments, making users aware of some facet of pollution or ecosystem preservation. Unfortunately, most of them don't go beyond the promotional aspect of filters, when it can really be a tool for action in reducing the ecological impact of technology. It may seem inconceivable, but the use of an Instagram filter can result in a reduction of digital pollution, in this case the carbon footprint, and Orange and Publicis have demonstrated this.

How did they achieve this feat? To accomplish this eco-savings, Orange's filter has the effect of reducing the number of pixels in photos taken through it. Don't worry, there is no inconvenience in terms of visual comfort, as the resulting image does not present any quality defect when viewed. Orange makes us aware of the need to free ourselves from our need to always ask for the maximum, while our eyes do not even perceive it. The technique makes it possible to reduce the size of the image, which positively affects the entire digital system. Fewer pixels means less data to store in the data center, less bandwidth occupied and less memory usage for all devices involved. This means less energy consumption at all levels. In fact, the Eco Filter would reduce the carbon footprint of photo sharing by 20%.

Other eco-friendly gestures for the digital world

The Eco Filter makes us realize a reality that we often try to overlook: digital technology pollutes. Why stop there? So we thought we'd list a few things we can do to reduce our environmental footprint when using digital technology:

  • Keep your digital equipment alive longer: as the manufacturing of electronic devices is quite expensive, from an environmental point of view, it is important to preserve what you own. Don't get caught up in commercials, consider repairing a failing device and avoid hi-tech when you buy (they are more polluting than low-tech versions).
  • Very high resolution is not always necessary: the equipment to read high definition is always very polluting. A simple eco-friendly gesture is to watch videos in a size adapted to our screens. Indeed, it is useless to load a 1080p video if loading a 240p one has the same quality on your smartphone. Moreover, it is better to download a video than to watch it in streaming.
  • The right choice of Internet connection: to reduce our environmental footprint, we should favor the use of WiFi and wired connections. Indeed, these two methods use about 20 times less energy than using the 4G mobile network.

The #nofilter is a gesture that has gained quite a bit of support lately. However, it should be noted that this campaign does not only have benefits, when it increases the number of photos posted online. A situation that, let's not forget, increases the environmental footprint of the digital, especially with photos in almost always maximum resolution. An innovative approach by Orange, with its Eco Filter, has shown that filters do much more good for the environment than we could imagine. However, it will remain up to each individual to determine the commitment he or she intends to follow in terms of responsible use of digital technology.

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