SustainableUX #7: gov.uk sustainability manual; environment-centered design; links of optimism
In this issue:
Catching up with our past speakers - IDEO goes green(er) - Gov.uk approach to sustainable digital - Tech firms will save the day?
It’s been quiet here for a while, hasn’t it? Pandemic + work-related burnout = neglected SustainableUX.
Fortunately, I found a way to re-energize. I started attending nearby climate meetups (well, nearby but on Zoom) and started making connections. I found a way to contribute: my local climate groups (there are around 30 of them) are not the most tech-savvy - so I went about setting up newsletters, shared calendars, and other platform-related stuff to help them coordinate and extend their efforts. Plus, attended plenty of beach cleanups and eco-fairs to get me outside.
I’ll save the details for a future post, but perhaps this idea will click for you too. For me digital sustainability can feel pretty abstract, whereas working with your neighbors on shared problems and solutions gave my motivation a big boost.
On with the newsletter!
Techbros suck (the CO2 out of the atmosphere (maybe))
News that Stripe/Frontier are getting into carbon capture was met with skepticism (at best) in the bits of climate twitter I follow. And it’s right to be skeptical of tech-centered solutions that promise to somehow to “undo climate change”. There have been many overhyped solutions that attracted big money but never delivered. The bigger bang for buck is in preventing emissions in the first place anyway, right?
I had my preconceptions shaken by @tommoyerUT, who argues that the sums might actually make sense. Free heat = very cheap CO2 removal, on a par with replacing fossils with renewables. It’s an interesting thread if you want to get into the physics and economics of the thing.
For now, I’m filing this under “reasons to be hopeful” rather than “cynical greenwash corporate ploy”.
Catching up with SustainableUX folks
Let’s find out what our previous speakers up to, shall we?
Jordyn spoke at SustainableUX 2019 on Energy Efficiency in P2P.
JC: How does climate thinking factor into your current role?
JB: We are building hollarhype with social movements in mind, and we most immediately see a use case for climate activists who need a way to support each other on those days when things feel most hopeless.
Tim is one of the OGs for this whole sustainable digital thing. He spoke in 2016 and 2017. And he’s involved in, well, everything. Three examples:
Updating Ecograder (the first useful carbon estimator for sites)
Evolving the B Corp model to be ever-more sustainable.
Yes Please, Minister
Gov.Uk team making strides in standardizing an approach to digital sustainability:
Take a look at gov.uk’s specific guidelines on cloud use, duplicate data, eliminating PDFs (yay), measurement, and how to link project goals to sustainable development goals. It’s a lot and it’s great.
IDEO aims for Zero
“We quickly realized the complexity of the challenge. There are hundreds of people across IDEO, and each of them make purchases on behalf of the firm in the running of our business — from video conference subscriptions to user research project expenses. With at least 80–90% of any organization’s carbon footprint coming from Scope 3 emissions (including upstream suppliers), calculating one’s carbon footprint is a significantly distributed issue.”
Of course, lots of agencies made big reductions in the last 2 years…no one was flying, and flights are surely the main CO2 culprit for agencies like these. Still, good work!
Monika Sznel with The time for Environment-Centered Design has come
“it’s the next iteration of the well-known human-centered design framework and is better fitted for the environmental, social and technological context in which we live.”
Aside: first thing I thought of was Troy McClure’s Food Chain bit, with the arrows taken out.
Get a climate-adjacent job
A recent highlight from our jobs board on Slack, for ThredUp:
Ahoy folks! I’m looking for a Sr. Java/Kotlin Engineer to join our product engineering team at thredUP. We have 4 day work weeks (the dream is real) ), and lots of fun building scalable services for sustainable fashion
There might not be many Kotlin devs subscribing to this newsletter, but I’m including it anyway because I’m so happy to see the 4-day week become a thing.
Something cool -
A new platform for linking climate projects to volunteers, and more besides. Mostly in Germany so far. I recently had a chat with one of the founders and will be featuring this platform in a future issue.
Events (all remote unless noted)
April 21st: CAT Coffee / Green Web Dev
April 22nd: Earth Day Panel Talk | Redefining Culture
Exploring what businesses and communities can do to change our mindset towards sustainable living
April 26th: How to Get A Job in climate
June: Green Software Summit
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