No X please; lying liars; green robots
Plus: our first live event in a while
Poll: where to share?
SustainableUX’s social media strategy was limited to occasional Tweets but that seemed to work ok. I’ve abandoned X (because reasons), so where should I post my invaluable knowledge nuggets? Tell me now:
The poll wouldn’t let me include “Metaverse lol” or “social media is dead”.
ps I’d be grateful for a bluesky invite if anyone has a spare.
pps We have a sustainableUX linkedin group and a (neglected) slack.
SustainableUX live event! December 14th!!
The Future of Digital Sustainability, with the Authors of the Web Sustainability Guidelines
The official Web Sustainability Guidelines are here and they are poised to change everything about how we do green digital. [Check out our latest SustainableUX newsletter for comprehensive coverage].
In this special 1hr live event, three of the WSG authors will walk us through the most UX-relevant parts of the guidelines, complete with tips on how to start applying parts of the WSG to your everyday work. I’ll then moderate a Q&A with questions from the audience (via Zoom or the SustainableUX slack).
Thanks to MightyBytes for hooking us up with proper webinar-grade Zoom.
Data Center news
Today nearly all the world's IP traffic goes through data centers. It is not just captured once. "For every bit of data that travels the network from a data center to end users, another five bits of data are transmitted within and among data centers,"
Streaming services alone could make up 87% of consumer internet traffic this year, says the report.
The good news: data-center energy efficiency has more than kept up.
The study expects consumption to reach 3.2% of total demand in 2030. Underlying calculations exclude cryptocurrency mining and data transmission networks themselves.
The European Union is not ignoring the problem. To fit in with its digital strategy, they have set the goal of climate-neutral data centers by 2030.
Trust the EU to actually do something about this (Energy-efficient Cloud Computing Technologies and Policies for an Eco-friendly Cloud Market). Thanks, EU!
Mainstream coverage of Google’s geothermal ambitions. Google’s own take: Operating on 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy by 2030 (Google).
Aside: see Google’s nifty blog for feel-good sustainability/tech stories.
Will Evans, Reveal News
Holiday season means I’ve (reluctantly) had to buy a few things on Amazon. It’s been a while so I was pleasantly surprised see climate-stuff everywhere on the site - from “green shipping” options to products labeled as “climate pledge friendly”. Could this mean that Amazon is using its vast market power to make green ecommerce the new default? (Leaving aside the whole “there can never be green ecommerce” argument).
Amazon takes responsibility for the full climate impact only of products with an Amazon brand label, which make up about 1% of its online sales.
Poop. The article gives a great overview of how corporates can use selective reporting criteria and subtly nuanced language to puff up their green cred.
Kicker: they don’t count their commute footprint either.
…Target, Walmart and The Home Depot estimate the gas their workers burn while driving to and from work, Amazon counts emissions only from its own corporate shuttles. Asked about the discrepancy, Amazon’s Davila said: “Employees can use public transportation to get to the office, and if they live nearby, they can walk or bike.”
Ugh. Probably amounts to a tiny % of their overall footprint, but Amazon end up looking pathetic for trying this fudge.
Aside: remember Amazon Employees for Climate Justice? They got justice (some of them, anyway).
There’s a backstory to the company’s climate marketing. It’s faced intense pressure from a group of inside agitators, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. Bezos’ [climate pledge] announcement came on the eve of an employee walkout protesting the company’s lack of action. Less than a year later, two of the group’s organizers were fired in what the National Labor Relations Board determined was illegal retaliation, leading to a settlement last year.
So that’s nice?
Good news / bad news: Over half of global tech firms lack net zero plan, study finds
Glass half full or half empty.
The report also found that for those tech leaders that have a Net Zero plan in place (53%), a third are due to achieve their target by 2030, with a further 18% setting their sights further into the future. For those who have set themselves a target, over half (59%) expect to reach it.
Although, see the amazon example above for a sampling of the ways corporations can obfuscate their true footprint.
Bits and pieces
Rise of the Robot Farmers
I got strong A Psalm for the Wild-Built vibes from this headline: Farm robots ripping out weeds the old-fashioned way to reduce herbicide use, strengthen harvest
Bonus robots at the end of this email.
Yet another climate/design job board: climatebase.org
The jobs featured show high relevance for eco-minded designers. Sample job (which may be gone by the time I publish):
Senior Product Designer at Optera: “We build software to help the world’s largest companies stop climate change.” Work on their ESG platform.
UX - Resource Collection & Event Calendar (from SustainableUXNetwork )
Our namesake has put out a great resource collection, check it out.
Holiday subscription sale!
For a limited time you can get the best value SustainableUX subscription. Only 0.5% of SustainableUX readers have a paid subscription, but the fact that I have any paying readers at all gives me extra motivation to keep at this.
Paid subscribers don’t get anything extra except my appreciation and thanks. The whole point of doing this newsletter is to encourage designers to do more for the climate, so I’m not going to hide content behind a paywall. Still, it would be nice to do something for paid subscribers and I’m going to explore some ideas in 2025.
A tune with “climate” in the lyrics
Via the consistently interesting Today in Tabs.