Updated: Feb 28
Hello! My name’s Paul and I make brilliant climate-positive AR Filters for Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok. Brands we've worked with include the NBA, Beats by Dre, ESPN, Hitachi, Nissan, FIFA, Marks & Spencer, Gorillaz, Mclaren and various charities and music artists. You can see (and try) some of them at www.gloam.io.
AR Filters are great, but like most things that are fun, they come at a cost. To celebrate Earth Day 2022 on 22 April we’ve decided it's time Gloam does its bit to help slow down the effects of climate change. We're doing this by carbon-offsetting every AR Filter we make for our clients from now on.
And we've teamed up with The Future Forest Company to plant five trees on their UK sites when we make an AR Filter for every client.
Why we're planting five trees For Each AR Filter created (the maths)
Working out how much CO2 an AR Filter produces hasn't been as easy as I first thought. There is lots of information and fancy carbon-footprint calculators on the internet so please bear with me on how I came to the magic number of five trees.
For this example, we'll be using one Instagram AR Filter as these are the most popular ones clients ask for and I make.
How much CO2 does an AR Filter produce?
One Instagram AR Filter has a maximum file size of 4 MB. This is set by Meta, the parent company of Instagram and is small enough so most devices around the world can use it and big enough to pack lots of information into it. The ones I've made are often smaller than that but for this example let's say it's 4 MB. This means the first time someone uses (downloads) they use 4 MB of data.
Now, this is the tricky part. As people who could use this Instagram AR Filter are based all around the world, it's not possible to know exactly how the energy each country produces is created and how much CO2 that creates. So, we're going to have to make an assumption, and for this, we'll use Observable HQ. The UK website has a handy calculator that tells us how much CO2 is produced in the UK when we download data from the internet.
According to Observable HQ, 1mb of data downloaded from the internet produces 0.75g of CO2. This means to download and use one Instagram AR Filter in the UK it would produce 3g of CO2.
How much CO2 does a tree absorb?
Now, on to the trees. Again this can vary as we'll never know for sure how long a tree will live or know if it's the same species of tree being planted each time (different trees absorb different amounts of CO2). So for our numbers, we'll use an average tree. On average a tree absorbs 25kg per year - this is according to EcoTree.Green. And we'll estimate that our tree will be sucking up that CO2 for forty years. It's likely that it'll be longer than that but we'll never know for sure, so let's say forty years.
That works out at 1,000kg of CO2 offset in that tree's forty-year life. Which is a nice round one tonne.
1 tonne = 1,000,000 grams.
How many times is an AR Filter used?
Now we know how much CO2 is offset by one tree (our average tree) and we know how much CO2 our Instagram AR Filter produces, we can work out how many trees we need to plant to offset our AR Filter. But first, we'll make another educated guess on how many times people are going to download our Instagram AR Filter. As you can imagine this can vary wildly. From experience, my client's AR Filters have been used anywhere between 12 thousand to 1.2 million times.
How many trees do we need to plant to offset the CO2 produced by an AR Filter?
The final calculation to work out how many trees we need to plant to offset the CO2 created from one Instagram AR Filter is...
4MB of data = 3g of CO2 to download one Instagram AR Filter
1 X tree can offset 25kg CO2 a year
X 40 years of life
= 1 tonne = 1,000,000 grams
1,000,000 grams (1 x tree) / 3 grams ( 1 x AR Filter used once)
= 333,334 downloads one AR Filter can have to be carbon-neutral per new tree planted
We may not know how many times future client AR Filters will be downloaded. But we can account for additional thousands of times the client and myself test the filters before each one is published. So including that and for us to be comfortably carbon-positive, our final sum is...
5 trees X 333,334 downloads
= 1.67million downloads per Instagram AR Filter
There are obviously caveats to this. I've not added in how much CO2 the client and I produce to make the AR Filter, the tens/hundreds of emails, the Zoom calls, the CO2 produced from the food we consumed during production, the CO2 we all produce by breathing at the time... THIS blog post.
But we think five trees are a fair number that gives us some flexibility. So we'll plant five trees in the UK for every AR Filter made for a client.
If you have any thoughts on the above, sums we got wrong or new ideas please let me know in the comments or you can email me at email@example.com. And if you're still here, thanks for reading, Paul from www.gloam.io