People feel guilty when they cover food with plastic; drink coffee from a disposable cup; buy bottled water. But we all stream, zoom and scroll more than we ever have in human history without thinking about the consequences. There are consequences for the planet.
1 billion hours of YouTube are watched daily (and 4.8 billion internet users, 28.5 billion connected devices, and 82% of online traffic predicted to be video by 2022). That’s a rapidly growing energy footprint.
This Earth Day, earthday.org and Danish Accenture agency, Hjaltelin Stahl, are asking people to think about their streaming. Most of them would not even be aware that they need to.
The campaign asks people to do something incredibly simple – stream in standard definition rather than high definition. The reason is this: Every time someone streams a video, energy is used to power infrastructure and operations, including mobile networks and data centres. This energy emits carbon and streaming in HD takes four times more energy than streaming in SD, therefore emitting four times more carbon. According to scientists at the UK’s Royal Society streaming Ultra HD on a phone generates up to 8 times more emissions than standard definition (SD). And, let’s be honest, you can hardly tell the difference on a phone’s tiny screen.
The agency’s consumer campaign is not asking people to stop streaming. That would be self-defeating. The very clever part of the campaign is that Hjaltelin Stahl has rebranded standard definition as Earth Definition, the new standard in streaming and a green alternative to HD. The campaign teaches people how to lower their carbon footprint by streaming in this lower eco-friendly definition and why they should do it.
Earthday.org is also urging the big players in streaming, such as YouTube, Netflix & Facebook to make a small design change to their video players that could make a big difference – simply adding a green ED next to the 480p setting, and auto-playing videos on mobile devices in Earth Definition.
To launch the campaign towards streaming users, and deliver the message with least environmental impact possible, Hjaltelin Stahl created a video with a low digital carbon footprint. Avoiding the use of actors and big crews and eliminating the need of flying people around the world, the creative team relied on animation to relay the message. The video’s minimalist animation also uses a restricted colour palette and concentrates on black and white so it uses fewer pixels and draws less energy from the screen, delivering on the promise to keep all elements of the campaign low emission. The video, which was directed by awarded animation director and environmental activist, Simon Robson, opens with the message, “This video is not available in HD for the sake of our planet,” grabbing attention immediately.
Tim Pashen, senior creative, Hjaltelin Stahl, noted, “Earth Day is the Super Bowl for the environment. What better moment to raise awareness of the hidden environmental impact of video streaming – something that is not in the conversation yet – while offering up a simple solution everyone can do today, without changing telcos, energy companies or internet providers.”
Hjaltelin Stahl also created a low emission website by eliminating all colour images and disabling the auto play of the film. The site has a cleaner footprint score than 82% of all web pages on the internet and is running on sustainable energy.
Adam Kerj, chief creative officer, Accenture Interactive & Hjaltelin Stahl, commented, “This has been in the works for the past twelve months and we’re so proud to have been able to collaborate with one of the most credible and impactful organisations out there. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with Earthday.org and that they not only trusted us with bringing Earth Definition to life on this 51st Earth Day, but also driving their goal and mission of diversifying, educating and activating the environmental movement worldwide in over 190 countries.”
Agency: Hjaltelin Stahl, Part of Accenture Interactive
Chief Creative Officer: Adam Kerj
Senior Creatives: Tim Pashen, Lasse Vintersbølle, Karl Kristian Krarup Kjaer & Nicolai Dimon
Digital Creatives: Mads Clausen, Line Kirstine Torp & Rasmus Frandsen
Group Client Director: Søren Brix
Senior Account Manager: Sofia Brockenhuus-Schack
Group Digital Director: Jacob Benzon
Influencer Marketing: Robert Preuss
Senior Social Specialist: Mads Husted
Director: Simon Robson
Additional Animation: Mighty Nice
Head of Production: Tina Braham
Producer: Diana Angelius
Head of Studio: Jeremy Howdin
Design: Oliver Abbott
Model: Tessa Eden, Michael Shiao Chen
3D Animation: Duncan Maclaren, Michael Shiao Chen
2D Animation: Bonnie Forsyth, Max Wanniaratchy
Light & Render: Trent Rogan
Composite: Gary Fouchy
Sound Design & Score: JSM Music
CEO, CCO & Co-Composer: Joel Simon
VP & Executive Producer: Jeff Fiorello
Co-Composer: Rebecca Riter
Producers: Norm Felker, Sharon Cha & Andrew Manning
Special thanks: Squeak. E Clean Studios Melbourne