A sustainable digital mindset

Wind turbines on hill

Working in the digital sector over the past decade across various industries there has been a definite parallel transformation of two worlds, sustainability and digital. The two worlds haven’t directly collided but our technical capabilities should now be used to accelerate the shape of a more sustainable and socially responsible world. I recently read an article by Satish Kumar presenting a case for an ecologically based economy and stating the link between the words ecology (knowledge of our home/world) and economy (management of our home/world). As our world becomes more technologically advanced the digital capabilities become entwined with social and ecological responsibility and a more sustainable way of life.

Practically how do the two worlds become more entwined and how can digital solutions help transform our way of life? Here are a few ideas and existing advancements:

  • The impact of working from home: The overall impact of a long term adoption of working from home will be vast and wide ranging. I’m going to create a list within this list but this is a whole topic in itself:
    • There is a reduced need for office / workplace infrastructure. This will potentially localize energy needs and services and reduce the energy consumption and emissions from commuting.
    • There is a reduced need for the services surrounding the workplace which could help to regenerate local communities and amenities. Supporting local cafes, shops and suppliers. Digital communication and transformation of small businesses to better serve their communities could help to create a wave of digital cottage industries bringing suburban and rural communities back to life.
    • Working from home levels the talent playing field to open up opportunities for skills which may previously have had a reliance on location and the ability to commute.
  • The impact of blockchain and the IoT: A higher connectivity of data and systems and ordering and alignment of data is leading to efficiencies in supply chains and management of demand. Smart city connectivity will lead to a more efficient flow and understanding of traffic and energy use. The dawn of ‘big data’ (lazy phrase) is being surpassed by useful data connectivity. To get completely geeky about smart cities check out what SixSq. are doing, there is so much more to come for our urban environments. From an individual point of view smart meters and home energy use is so accessible and manageable that we’re in a position to dramatically lower our consumption with a bit of awareness and consideration.
  • Digital social movements: Capturing practical and actionable social and environmental movements online and amplifying mobility. We have so many social communities and platforms but there is yet to be a socially responsible and environmentally conscious platform that stands out to drive positive social change. There are movements that exist to promote a more diverse and responsible society which are becoming more vocal and visible online, from the very local to more established and national groups. I support the Woodland Trust and my wife is part of our local climate action group. Other groups which have caught my eye recently are:

I’m scratching the surface on this topic so I’m about to stop before I start to waffle, but before I do there are a few things I consciously now do online:

  • Check where products are being sourced and delivered from
  • Support local providers and businesses
  • Enable dark mode on devices
  • Understand energy use and most efficient times to use energy. Check out the National Grid ESO app
  • Socially responsible investing (more to come on this)

Last but not least a bit of reading…

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/11/21/how-digital-transformation-aligns-with-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://www.open.edu/openlearn/society/politics-policy-people/geography/economy-and-ecology

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/corporate-responsibility-in-the-digital-era/

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