Issue #14

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Curiously Green

Let’s talk about digital sustainability
Last month, I linked to Seth Godin’s podcast on The Game Theory of Carbon. I meant to add a comment to that link, that Seth does lean rather worryingly towards untested, risky, technological solutions to climate change and I don’t personally endorse that approach. I shared it only to highlight that “the rules of the game” impact whether our economies work for or against people and planet.

Following the last issue, I was also pleased to hear from Andy Aitkin, CEO of Honest Mobile, who got in touch to tell me that they are not the world’s first carbon neutral mobile service, but believe that they are first in the UK. Either way, its great to see them leading the industry forward!

Read on for more news, and if this issue gets you thinking and you’d like to share your thoughts, do hit reply as always, or reach out on social media @eatwholegrain and let’s talk!

– Tom Greenwood

Top picks from the green web
Digital sustainability: a French update

Digital sustainability: a French update


I’ve had some good conversations with Gauthier Roussilhe about the differences in the digital sustainable movement in the UK and France. He continues to make me think with his insights as to how digital sustainability is addressed across borders, and how sharing this information is essential to really move us forward in addressing this issue.

Following the success of Branch magazine, which launched last month, Gauthier took advantage of the ever expanding audience for the topic, to share what is happening in France and encourage others to share what is happening locally to them.

I have to say that I am really impressed with how much is happening in France to green digital, and I agree with the more holistic approach outlined in the article that goes beyond just carbon. This is a great read!

Going Green is a team effort

Going Green is a team effort


Greenlist is a new app for businesses, designed to help companies who are looking to engage and empower their teams to make more sustainable choices. The app is linked to slack, and relies on reward incentives and friendly competition between colleagues, to inspire each other to think more about their day to day choices and how these impact the environment.

I’ve written before about the challenge of incorporating our personal carbon footprints into the corporate count, so found this new Slack based service Greenlist to be really interesting as a way to get staff more personally invested in a culture of sustainability at work, especially if this is a new direction for your organisation.

It has some similarities with DoNation, one of my favourite tools, which has been really effective in driving engagement in personal sustainability action and a friendly sense of competition within our team at Wholegrain Digital.

Is your online habit killing the planet?

Is your online habit killing the planet?


Some of you in the UK may have caught this recent documentary from Channel 4’s Dispatches, in which Sophie Morgan investigated the carbon footprint of the tech industry.

It was a really well made show that highlighted why we need to take digital sustainability seriously, and shone a light on the huge amounts of energy used by our industry. Personally, I think that we need to focus more on what we can do as digital professionals to pursue sustainability than what “consumers” of data can do to cut down their internet usage, but, like any aspect of sustainability, the truth is that we probably need to tackle it from every angle.

If you missed it, you can still catch this programme on the Channel 4 website for the next couple of weeks. I hope some of you can also access it outside of the UK.

Quote of the month

"There has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril"


Klaus Schwab

Book of the month
COVID-19: The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret

COVID-19: The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret


This somewhat ominously named book from the World Economic Forum might not sound like your ideal choice of bedtime reading, but I have found it surprisingly readable and insightful.

It sets out the context of the modern world in which we all live, defined by three key characteristics that differ from earlier generations – interdependence, velocity and complexity. Interestingly, they cite the internet as being a key driving force in the rapidly increasing interdependence of nations, velocity of our lives and economies, and complexity of the world we live in. All of these things can be positive, but can also carry with them systemic risks that make issues such as pandemics and climate change difficult to prevent and solve.

This book takes a view that you might not expect from the World Economic Forum, commonly known these days as the meeting place of billionaires, and talks about the need to use the economic disturbance of the pandemic to create a future economy that is both inclusive and environmentally sustainable. It challenges the “tyranny of GDP” and references ideas such as the circular economy, doughnut economics and even de-growth!

Quick links from our team & friends
  • Fathom analytics has publicly shared their commitment to helping the planet, by pledging 2% of the revenue to environmental causes, making them a sustainable alternative to Google Analytics.

  • “Just because we can buy new devices doesn’t mean we should” – a poignant reminder to think about as we approach the holiday season, from Gerry McGovern’s latest article on digital waste.

  • Check out these guiding principles from web developer collective, the Better Web Alliance.

  • Last week, I was on the panel for  ‘Eco-nomics: The business case for going green’ at the “It’s Time” Festival of Climate Action. All the talks from this event are on the event website. The panel discussion is at 5hrs 29mins on the Innovation stage video.

  • Sustainable search engine Ecosia has launched a brand new, zero fee debit card, the TreeCard. Made from sustainably sourced cherry wood, this card will plant a tree for every $60 you spend, bringing a whole new meaning to sustainable shopping!

  • It was great to see the new Biden-Harris transition website not only built on our favourite CMS, WordPress, but also living up to the President-Elect’s promises on addressing climate change. We ran the site through our Website Carbon calculate and found it to be cleaner than 70% of other websites tested.

  • All the info, videos and resources from last weeks London Climate Action Week panel on “The environmental impact of the internet” are now online here.

Take action!