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Sam Jones
Sam Jones

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5 ways to help the environment as a software developer

During these strange and self-isolating times, as a software developer, it is hard to think of ways to help the environment while programming away at our laptops in the home office or, in my case, at the dining room table. In the pre-Covid days, there were significant decisions to make such as cycling to work or taking public transport instead of driving; only choosing vegetarian/vegan options when eating out; or deciding to go flight-free.

In a global pandemic, these choices have now been taken out of our hands. However, as people who spend the majority of our working day (and possibly free time) in front of the computer, I still think that there are certain habits that we could change in order to make a little impact on the environment from our terminals.

Here are my 5 ways to make that small impact:

1. Ecosia

An alternative search engine that plants a tree for every 45 searches (on average) that you make.

Their servers run on 100% renewable energy and they recently passed 100 million trees planted!

Personally, I tend to use Google when searching for specific coding-related issues and Ecosia for pretty much everything else (via their Chrome extension).

Find out more here 👉

2. Kualo

Web-hosting company whose entire global operations are powered by renewable energy. In 2020, they also committed to becoming a climate positive business.

I've not had the chance to use Kualo yet, but will definitely be buying a domain/hosting my next website with them.

Find out more 👉

3. Buy refurbished

Did you know that you can help the environment by buying refurbished computers?

The world's e-waste is a huge problem. Buying your next laptop, server, monitor or even headphones refurbished will massively reduce your impact on the environment.

I bought my MacBook Pro 13" refurbished around 4 years and it still runs amazingly well. Although I could still do better with buying refurbished computer accessories.

Find out more 👉

4. Sustainability apps

There are so many great sustainability apps out there developed by talented engineering teams who share the same environmentally-conscious determination to change.

Here are a few that I've used before or currently use:

TooGoodToGo - connects people to leftover food from supermarkets, restaurants and cafes

HappyCow - find local vegan/vegetarian restaurants and health food shops

Refill - top up your re-usable water bottle at the nearest Refill water station

5. Contribute to OSS

Away from work, another option could be to research and contribute to projects dedicated to improving our environment.

This is on my todo list for 2021 and would love to get involved in a software project that increases general engagement with our environmental challenges.

Check out these 8 projects for some inspiration.

While I understand that everyone's circumstances are different in terms of technologies that can be used at work (e.g. browser extensions) or amount of spare time to contribute to open source, I have tried to offer some starting points in this post to encourage people working in the software development industry to help support the environment during these unprecedented times.

If you have any other tips or habits that you practice to help the planet from a tech perspective, please let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter.

Thanks for reading 👋

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