I recently had the pleasure of talking to Charlotte Walsh, Co-Founder of Digital Detox, a digital product development studio based in Brixton, London. Charlotte and I first met at Barclays where we worked together in the Group Customer Experience and Innovation team. Charlotte has been vocal about the need for more greener approaches to digital and IT. Something she champions with the team at Digital Detox. So it was fitting that our conversation took place on World Earth Day.
Awareness of the climate emergency and the discussion around it has been mainstream for several years now. Taking action is increasingly moving to the top of the agenda for business and governments. (Hopefully we will see some genuine outcomes from this years COP26 Climate Summit!) When we think of the causes of climate change, we tend to gravitate to things such as fossil fuels, aviation, manufacturing and the industrialised farming of cattle. The impact of digital is not something that is front of mind. If anything, we perhaps view digital as part of the solution; an enabler to do things differently. While this certainly true, as we will hear from Charlotte in this episode, digital and IT consume vast amounts of energy themselves. Their very nature means that this reality is hidden from view and the energy cost is not part of our day-to-day mental model.
Charlotte frames the need for greener digital with some statistics and then outlines some of things businesses, product designers and us as consumers can do to reduce energy usage. We also discuss how the off-shoring versus on-shoring debate may have shifted as companies have been remote working during the COVID19 pandemic.