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The impact of the digital industry: Raising awareness by starting conversations

Author: Neil Clark

The impact of the digital industry: Raising awareness by starting conversations
  • Service Digital experience
  • Date 12 May 2020

Starting conversations about the environmental impact of the digital industry is the first step towards educating others and making change.

I resisted doing any kind of clickbait rubbish like 9 ThInGs YoU cAn Do To SaVe ThE pLaNeT fRoM bUrNiNg, to raise awareness. Whenever the question of what is the most important thing to do when it comes to the climate emergency (or any issue!), is to always educate yourself and lead by example to educate others. That is unashamedly stolen from the likes of Gandhi and it cannot be dismissed. 

During this blog series, I hope I have passed on some of my passion and knowledge to you and also highlighted some of the trustworthy places to find research, information, facts and reputable opinion.

I have dug deep into original research articles to understand the points being made before regurgitating someone else’s opinion on it. I know this is obvious, but it allows you to understand a subject much more deeply and hopefully enables you to add to the conversation when people ask questions! Which leads me to this blog post.

Starting conversations 

Once you’ve approached this with an open mind and continue to educate yourself, start a conversation with people. Whether this is at your workplace, at home, or with friends. Just see what other people think. See what the level of awareness is. 

Don’t let them think you’re just telling them to use digital stuff less (there are more reasons than the environment to do that). We don’t want this to become focused on individual behaviour like the recycling industry has struggled so badly with. 

Coca-Cola running ads last Christmas telling us to recycle our bottles is an easy way to distract from the point that polluting organisations don’t contribute enough to clearing up the waste they have created. Governments haven’t legislated well enough, and recycling schemes are fraught with inconsistencies across regional areas. 

For the scale of problem, we’re facing every person and group of people have to genuinely pull in the same direction. However, some groups’ pulls are simply more powerful than others. Is it better that one person consciously reduces their consumption of digital products, or that one organisation cuts their page weight in half? 

In terms of educating a bigger part of the organisation you work for there are a number of things you do to start the conversation:

  • Put a few links for people to read in an internal newsletter or comms tool 

  • Organise a lunch and learn about the subject (get in touch if you’d like some help) 

  • Could a simple initiative like changing your organisation’s default search engine be a catalyst for a conversation? 

  • Or taking it a step further — put together a network of environmental champions like Mozilla to drive the cultural change that is necessary to incorporate sustainability into everything an organisation does.

Getting the conversation started is the first step, next up will be how to raise awareness by setting CO2e budgets.


Neil Clark's avatar

Neil Clark

Service Design Lead / Business Analyst


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