Sustainable development will be a major issue in the coming years for all human activities. Those relating to the management of business records and archives are no exception. This article examines issues related to the ecological costs of archival practice with a focus on digital archives because their environmental impact remains relatively unknown.
The article is divided in two main parts. The first part sets the context and issues by presenting the nature and characteristics of the digital world in general, including the considerable volume of data produced each year. It concludes by explaining how the digital world affects the environment.
The second part of the article focuses more specifically on the environmental impact of archival practice, both from a negative and positive point of view, and addresses each of the different archival functions in turn. Description and classification make it possible to reduce the time and energy wasted in finding the right information while appraisal plays a particularly important role in regulating the volume of data stored.
Long-term storage consumes a significant amount of energy. For this reason, alternative solutions are under development. The article discusses two of these, namely storage by DNA synthesis and storage on quartz glass, both of which offer advantages in terms of capacity and sustainability. The overview of archival functions concludes with dissemination, including advice on reducing the ecological footprint of exhibits.
Finally, the article presents some initiatives from the IT world - Green IT and Green IS - along with their possible adaptation to archiving.