Is digital dirty?
Digital is dirty. And actually very dirty. Digital technology comprises 4% of the world’s greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and it is expected to double by 2025. As a result: although digital has already been at the same level of GHG emissions as aviation since 2019 (nothing to be proud of…), it is about to take over the road transportation level… #shame
At Meetic Europe (the European leader of online dating that includes the brands: Meetic, DisonsDemain, Lovescout, Lexa, Neu, Match, etc.), we are very worried about those data and we want things to change. Since 2019, thanks to a strong management initiative, Meetic has been committed to becoming a truly eco-responsible company. So we are moving away from concern to focus on action.
Changing old habits
Without putting (too much) pressure on ourselves, we’ve started with concrete and daily actions to engage and raise awareness about our own carbon footprints: no more unnecessary waste at lunch, bye bye to the tens of thousands of plastic glasses in the watercooler and coffee machines (long live the corporate mug!), and we have (finally) figured out how to sort and use the bins wisely. On a larger scale, we have also measured the company’s carbon footprint. This is a subject that we have all become used to seeing on the ‘All Hands’ agenda and it is well supported by all.
Still, there’re a few issues left about the environmental impact of digital technology in our daily working habits, such as the way we design and develop apps. Everyone WANTS to do something about it but where to start? What to do? How to do it?
Sustainability is something one can learn!
At the beginning of the year, the APIdays team asked us to participate in the second edition of the Sustainable Digital Challenge. We thought it was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the subject. So we put together a Meetic team, of men and women, from tech and product teams, all highly motivated to (finally) work on a real initiative to launch “clean” projects.
The challenge consisted of 3 workshops leading to a pitch. At the beginning of the first session, rather product-oriented, we were asked to put our first ideas on paper. Wait ! What ? Already?! We were not ready for this and were faced with a very difficult exercise, not easy given our limited knowledge on the subject. Fortunately, with a little help from our mentors and especially from our Lead Developer and our Scrum Master, already well versed in the subject, we managed to come up with some ideas on Miro:
Our first ideas, NB: we loved voting with emojis
With those first ideas on paper, we’d attended the other two workshops being a little less novice in the matter. The second session was more focused on consumption and optimization of data centers carbon footprints. We applauded the very interesting intervention of Benoit Petit who has created Hubblo and the open source tool, Scaphandre, to measure the power consumption of a server.
A greener app is possible
The third and last workshop was also very exciting. It allowed us to understand how to measure a website’s performance and learn more about eco-development best practices: optimization of colours, images, fonts and more… Everything becomes clearer and greener! When we optimize an app to improve its performance related to its carbon footprint, we often optimize the whole performance of the app as well. There’s no reason not to do it! #noexcuses
The theory… in practice
Now that we knew all this, we just wanted to get our hands dirty and apply what we have just learned to our own case.
We already had several ideas for best practices: for example integrating tools like Lighthouse into the CI, which would enable us to measure performance changes with each new deployment; or measuring the consumption of our data centers more accurately with tools like Scaphandre.
But before we can actually do that, we thought we would benefit from addressing the internal lack of communication and knowledge on the subject. Even if we are all steeped in eco-responsibility, it seemed obvious to us that in terms of developing eco-responsible products, nobody is trained, no one has the time to do it and nobody knows where to start.
Handing on what we have learned
We then felt that it was important to plan on an initial phase of internal communication and/or team training on this subject. And to kick start this movement, our main recommendation was to organise a hackathon on the subject.
We presented all those different ideas during the “pitch session” of the challenge… and we won the “Bronze Award” which rewarded our global reflections! We were happy, very happy.
So proud of our award!
Following the challenge, the idea of a hackathon quickly moved on internally. The hackathon will comprise of 2 parts: one first part with learning sessions on the subject over several days in order for all the participants to share the same knowledge base, fed by our learnings from the challenge but also by the different audits and studies conducted by Meetic in the last few months. Then, the second part will continue with two intense days of brainstorming, thinking, and deep work to generate new ideas that will allow Meetic to launch real projects. Our goal: to save 10% of the carbon emissions from our apps usage before the end of the year.
This is all very important to us at Meetic. Because if there is no planet, there is no love.