A Digital Designer’s Carbon Footprint
Jatin Gupta presented “A Digital Designer’s Carbon Footprint” at UX Camp Winter 2021. Enjoy!
Product Designer, T-Mobile
Jatin is a product designer at T-Mobile currently designing the T-Mobile for Business self-service platform. He is passionate about problem-solving in the digital space while keeping sustainability and ethics in mind. Jatin’s previous experience includes working as a front-end developer, accessibility researcher, and an AR game designer.
When not designing, you can find him reading self-help books or watching table tennis and fantasizing about how his ambitious goal of beating Space X in their domain would look like.
The following transcript very likely contains typographical errors. Please forgive any mistakes!
Thank you so much for coming to this, Jack. Just by coming here, you have taken the first step in understanding your role in improving climate change… My name is cutting up, pronounced Justin in S, and I’m a product designer working at Doble for the enterprise set of applications.
I understand a great part that is put into our hands as a designer, so by being passionate about ethics and sustainability helps me to really be responsible with botanist in now, I was under the impression that the Extreme Impact that We… Extreme changes we have made during the covid pandemic, I take care of climate change as well, after all.
Virtually all a river came to a halt and on transportation became minimal, and you must have seen this image sporting around on the internet, we are… Animals are seen at places which are usually crowded with humans are small being lifted in the cities, and you could see the mountains from far away.
But then what they are reading an article from International Energy Agency, I came across this figure about how much reduction has happened you do the covid 19, and they put the missions elections around 8%. 8%, that’s it. In other words, early, if you were releasing 51 billion turns of carbon Dixie, and now we will be releasing 47 billion tons. Bill Gates recently wrote an article about how climate change is a much bigger issue as compared to the pandemic.
If we do take care of it actively every year from 261, words would be like 20, 20 and from 2100 onwards would be five times as the… The economic impact caused by climate change would be like having a covid-sized pandemic every 10 years or so.
But here’s the good news. We can do something about this. In this talk, I wanna talk about the rules, but digital designers can play in this, even though it feels like the digital design doesn’t contribute a lot to climate change, but there are certain aspects of it where we can focus our attention to make an impact. Digital Design is at the forefront of a movement that is enabling physical things like box, music, etcetera, to become intangible by bringing them to the digital space, but
We forget that digital products are running on the internet, which is powered by data servers, consuming enormous amount of electricity, the internet powered the internet serving 4 billion people in the world is the biggest machine ever built, and it’s variously hungry. If the intimate for a country, it would be the fourth largest carbon accident after the United States, China and India. So in this talk, I wanna give you three ways that we can do something about us, we can make an impact on climate change, first, I’ll start by talking about how can we reduce pollution in our work process, then I talk about how to design products to use less energy. Lastly, we’ll talk about how to design products to promote sustainable behavior. Let’s start by talking about reducing pollution in our coprocessor, we need to really look into our work practices and processes and identify base where we can adopt a more sustainable mindset.
Digital design work, they have a surprisingly large carbon footprint.
From business travel to upgrading to the latest equipment, which ever are coming out to Sharpies posters, everything adds up. Fortunately, much of it is right, for reduction. I found this spreadsheet shared publicly by designer, James city, that allows designers to calculate their own carbon footprint from their daily design activities.
So I decided to give it a try, and I was surprised to see how much contribution I was making. My number was 13 tons per year in total, and as I mentioned, I don’t even own a car, so this third intern number is just from a daily design and constancy activities, it doesn’t even include the apps and websites that I can eat. So what could I do to make this 30, 10, 30 temper year number less by a computer sites often would help in saving roughly 1-8 spare.
Another thing I can do is visit my home back in India, not so often, I’m getting a force.
But this, that air travel is one of the biggest contributors of climate change from my side, a round trip to India cost easily four to five from flight.
So what can I do? So I found out that that taking direct light is the easiest way to reduce my carbon footprint here by doing some other work-style and lifestyle cards, I was able to get the number really quickly down to six and a half tons. Using websites like Kosha, a plant a tree for every search performed on them and predict offers cream hosting can help to bring that footprint even lower, individual savings may seem small, but what if everyone delineate way to reduce pollution and at work process is to organize our data.
What happens when you keep on accumulating pens in your home, even from 20 years ago, eventually you have to throw them out or you have to get into declaring… Similar is the case with cloud storage. Right now, many people are too last, organize their digital data and think of continued as the wash and less space that is never going to end. I met this designer recently, he was a freelancer and start in his business in 1991, he has never deleted a singer file and can still show me the files that you produced for his clients since 9991. Just remember, one data center consumes the urgent of 65000 homes, so now Veloso ware engineer, Amanda SOCAN shared in her torso me ways to reduce wasteful digital later by organizing your files as well as deleting the files that you no longer need. This many condo-style advice is holds especially true for designers whose files tend to be heavy and storage-intensive.
So get into that habit of digital declaring, and she made this great point, which I want to mention, saving a document locally on your hard drive uses 1 million times 1 million less energy than saving it on cloud.
So digital declaring really helps. And if that is not an argument enough, you will at least say 43 hours per week that an average person spend searching for files, so this was just talking about how can we reduce pollution in Ottawa process.
Now, let’s talk about how to design products to use less energy, designing products or less energy essentially comes down to understanding the infrastructure of the web and how design shapes and as you use, sending a bit over the internet uses energy every step of the way. So the best thing that we could do is make sure our design uses less data, less data equals less energy to transmit, that equals less fossil fuel spin.
A dutch programmer named Danny Van coin was able to optimize his fortress plugin to send 200 plate 20 that since two million websites we’re using his plugin, he calculated a combined 159000 kilograms reduction in carbon taxidermist, which is equal into flying from US to India and back 34 times, unfortunately, less data is not the direction we are headed in, the size of an average webpage has increased from 500 kilobytes in 2011 to Four megabytes in 2019. An average website now contains multiple Jester libraries, reforms, large, high resolution images, videos, etcetera, all leading to a very rich mind you, but a very data-intensive experience. If you are, at this point, you are thinking that, Oh no, I have done this, please believe that I was doing the same until I know came to know the effect of this.
So some of the key questions that we should be asking here are, how much of the data we send is actually being consumed by the users, is there a way that we can re-use the data that we are sending, is there a way to send it in a better manner. One of my key suggestions for you will be to look at mobile first design, using mobile first design, you avoid creating those large digital assets for your text top versions that are making your site ran low and energy in officiate. Another way to design products to use less energy is to design products that have… That consume less battery, performance of an app should be one of the main focus areas of a designer, the better the performance, the lesson would be the memory usage and intern, the lessor, the energy consumed or the battery… Yeah.
The energy-consumed sites like eco-grader really helps you in understanding where your website performance and we can improve and gives you suggestions on how to make it sustainable. It might be hard to believe, but the colors you used in your design, avocado for print as well, in a study by Google, they were able to show a 78% reduction in battery consumption just by using Dockers. 78% by using tacos. Another way to use less… To design products that use less energy is to just make your website more usable, every time somebody has to dig in to find content and a poorly designed the website, they are using more energy. Sites that are clear concise, low-on assets are not only good for the environment, but offers good user experience as well, it turns out that in order to drive efficient user behavior, you just need to make your interface usable and accessible, make your content readable and navigation usable. The easier the content is to find, the fewer pages users will have to load in going from point A to point B.
Now, or the Lowe can make an impact and on climate change, designing products to promote sustainable behavior, consumers right now are the most under-utilized resource when it comes to a responsible consumption and production, their role is limited to just choosing the right product and throwing them in the right plan, we need to create experiences that engage users as active participants in creating a positive impact on the environment.
We can maybe allow them to… We can maybe allow them to achieve their… Achieve their green goals while accomplishing their short-term tasks, letting over its know how much Carla you need is one example. Food delivery services should let restaurants, restaurants know that if the customer hasn’t intentionally asked for a cutlery, they should not put that Amy for the customer. Have it in their home. I think it’s safe to assume that most people have cutlery at their home, websites.
Like TA could really push for DC flights casing point, the guy who has been using Lever flights or throughout my life, and having a sustainability indicator gives Yate extract as well. Flights in general are very bad, but flights with levers or connections are exceptionally bad because 50% of application comes from take-off and landing, give EGFR end in Austro users whenever possible. The mobile does this in a great way, the mobile nodes, the users whenever they are trying to un-enroll from paperless billing by letting them know that paper as spelling help save trees and health prevent office Cueto.
Another example would be an eco-friendly indicator in cars that lets you know you are driving at optimal fuel efficiency, or for a new hire delivery, websites like Amazon and other shipping websites, could give users an option of no hard delivery that allows them to fire multiple areas in the same multiple orders in the same area and one goal… Another way to design products to promote sustainable behavior is to look at the digital and physical world as part of one system, currently there is an imaginary boundary between the digital world and the physical world that is causing a lot of unintended consequences. One of those unintended consequences as Amazon not recognizing orders placed minutes apart and shipping them separately in separate packages with separate packaging material.
And I’m sure this must have happened to many of you, that you look at the size, color and proportion of a product online before ordering and then at a ship to you… It is substantially different from what you expected. A really funny thing happened with me during the pandemic, when I started ordering stuff online, starting or in closers online from Amazon.
I was ordering 16 bananas for the next few weeks, considering one each day, and the next day I saw a bunch of bags outside Madera, actually, I had received 16 bunches of bananas instead of 16 bananas, in other words, Advani, many of us are completely fine using our existing equipment, even after five years, but these big tech companies push software updates that make our hardware incompatible with them, intern forcing us to upgrade our hardware, sonars did this recently when the stop supporting the old version of their speakers, and some of them were on the market as recently as 2015. So now the key question becomes, how can digital interactions enhance our physical interactions so that we can make a positive impact on the environment, make suggestions here is to look at the complete user journey and not stopping at the digital and digital physical boundary. Look at it as a complete system. Using an augmented reality app, IKEA is able to show users the appropriate size, color and style, and were able to reduce the returns that product returns from users. This is a great way that they have caused an impact on climate change as well, enabling individuals to contribute can create a positive component effect in raising awareness about sustainability practices, it enables them to deal with environmental issues, designing products that have a positive environment at…
Not only helps in making them sustainable, but also improve users experience and increase sales as well, in a study Benin 66% millennials said that they would pay more for sustainable products.
People, right now, they want to know about what values are… What values are a company driven by and the way behind a company sustainability is one value that every company will be judged on in the years to come. Now, let’s review, designers are contributing to the Work Practices, too many designers are creating inefficient products that drain too much battery
And that under using too much data. We need to be mindful of our work practices and need to design products that are usable now on size and perform efficiently due to the scale and impact of digital technology using sustainable design to let customers play an active role in dealing with… In creating a positive impact on the environment is another way to look at it, we need to think about the physical and the digital world as one system and promote Intermountain-able behavior to those… Climate change is an existential problem now, and we can’t leave it in the hands of a small group of people to decide our fate, neither our parents… Not our children will have the best chance of dealing with that… Our parents did not have the resources to take care of it. And for our children, it would be too late, just like cover for which we were able to create a vaccine in just two years, in one or two years, there is no two-year fix for climate change. Designers need to use their creativity in a way that is useful to society rather than creating cool work for companies that remote endless consumption, and if I have still not convinced you enough has one last argument to folly of the Fortune 500 companies have now set…
Either emission reduction, renewable energy or clean energy goals that giants like Apple, Amazon, Google, have made it a commitment to go 100% clean and Urchin in the next 10 to 15 years. Here’s what the mobile progress looks like.
What do you think other companies will do, what do you think your company will do? I have no reservations in saying that in the future, every company will need to define climate energy calls to even exist in the future. Designing sustainability sustainably would be a skill set that employers would look for because it would be so important to have a low carbon for trans… Let’s be the ones to lead the way on this.
Thank you. And I’m happy to take any questions if you have, and after the questions, I would share the spreadsheet so that you can go ahead and calculate your own carbon footprint.