Sustainable Software and The Awakened Consumer

Did you know that the manufacturing of smart devices contributes around 1.25 million tonnes of CO2 emission?

Sustainable software development is defined as a ‘mode of software development in which resource use aims to meet product software needs while ensuring the sustainability of natural systems and the environment.’ With this in mind, my question to you is: are you as sustainable as the history of your liked posts on Instagram/FB/LinkedIn suggests?

The Manufacturing of Smart Devices

It is reported that the manufacturing of smart devices contributes around 1.25 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, yet everyone and their french bulldog is buying reusable straws from Amazon; a company owned by Jeff Bezos – a man claiming that humans are ruining the planet, yet whose company isn’t yet trying to use 100% renewable energy. Amazon specifically needs to focus on its ethicality when it comes to warehousing, transportation and delivery; however, the energy consumption that we don’t see is that of the data farms used by tech tycoons. Every call, text, video ( up or downloaded) goes through a data centre, most of which continue to be fueled by electricity.

the manufacturing of smart devices contributes around 1.25 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.”

In a study conducted by McMaster University, researchers found that: “Among all the devices, trends suggest that by 2020, the most damaging devices to the environment are smartphones. While smartphones consume little energy to operate, 85% of their emissions impact comes from production; a smartphone’s chip and motherboard require the most amount of energy to produce as they are made up of precious metals that are mined at a high cost. Anyone can acquire a smartphone, and telecommunications companies make it easy for people to purchase a new one every two years. We found that by 2020, the energy consumption of a smartphone is going to be more than that of PCs and laptops.”

In terms of Data Centres, in 2014, Apple achieved 100% renewable energy, Facebook achieved 75% in 2017 and is targeting 100% by 2020 and Google reached 100% in 2017. However, the main emissions that are still created are within the manufacturing of these products. Apple, for example, revealed its Environmental Report for 2018/19 in which it showed where it is in terms of sustainability today compared to where it was before.There’s progress, but is it enough and are we content with it?

Investing In A Fair Trade

Companies such as Fairphone have left behind the standard lineup of Lithium, cobalt oxide and carbon graphite elements used to make the batteries. Elements like gold, copper and silver are used in the wiring of the phone. And work only with components which are entirely fair trade materials.

Fairphone has gradually grown into a serious player on the market that cooperates with large companies Image credit: Waag

If we look into our future, do we prefer to see companies like this or do we really want to have to hop on a rocket with Bezos and his Amazon Empire because we didn’t do anything when we still could? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather recline on a handmade armchair in my retirement, sipping a mojito from a metal straw, looking out over the nature we saved whilst thinking: “that was close” than hop in anything he makes. Watch this space (on a sustainable phone).

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Kelly Macbeth Mackay

Creative writer who is passionate about challenging perspectives and facilitating positive mental health in children through football coaching. Co-founder of Halftime London,a platform established in 2017 which champions females in sport in order to empower others to become and remain active.