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Week 1: Create a sustainable online society!

Matt Carney

Welcome to the first week of this project! Great job on taking part and showing interest in reducing Manchester Met’s digital carbon footprint.

This week you will:

  • Be introduced to the project and your team
  • Share your expertise and motivation for taking part in this project
  • Plan your next steps and research!

1. In your team discuss the starting prompts from Getting Started Section. They are included below for reference. You should spend about 15 minutes on this.

Discuss the questions below with your team. The notes you made prior to this session may help here!

  • How do different parts of the community use and interact with digital spaces?
    • What does it mean to exist and interact in digital spaces?
    • Would better communication improve the perceived value of changing digital habits?
    • Are there any language, cultural, or accessibility barriers that prevent groups from developing greener digital habits? How can you break down these barriers?
    • How can you use greener computing to bring together the community and create cohesion between different groups to build a more sustainable digital space at Manchester Met?
  • How can you identify and communicate the value of greener computing to the diverse community at Manchester Met?
    • Who is your audience, staff, students, procurement teams, ICT, anyone else who might access digital spaces at Man Met?
    • Why do you think people don’t consider the environmental impact of their digital habits when using online spaces?
    • Lots of material has been published on greener computing – but what do you think is missing that would encourage your audience to change their habits? You could do some research or see the links below to investigate this?
  • What facet of greener computing will you focus on? Have a look at some of the practical aspects below.
    • Energy Efficiency – Do you know if it’s more energy efficient to pay by cash or card? Or to run excel or Google Sheets? Or to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime? Or a Mac vs a PC? Have a think about the decisions you make regarding technology in your everyday life and consider them through the lens of sustainability. You don’t need to answer all these questions, but getting people to consider the environmental impact of their every digital habits is a great way to get started.
    • Data Storage – Although the transition to paperless living has been a step towards a more sustainable future, we should consider the environmental impact of every person storing thousands of documents and images online. How might you encourage people to reduce their unnecessary online data storage? Thinking about your own habits is a good first step – how many old emails are in your inbox? Can moving documents to hard drives help?
    • Efficient Internet usage – How can you empower and promote efficient energy usage when browsing online? Is it always necessary to google something? Do you NEED all those tabs open? Are there more sustainable options than Google?
    • Responsible consumption and reducing E-waste – How might you encourage the purchasing of eco-friendly or second-hand devices or simply making do without the latest upgrade? How do you encourage people to dispose and recycle devices responsibly?
    • Sustainable Data Centres – How might you encourage the use of green hosting for websites and cloud services?
    • Education and Advocacy – How will you inform people about the environmental issues related to technology? Or support policies and initiatives that promote sustainable technology practices?

2. Reflect on this discussion as a group. You should spend about 15 minutes on this.

Reflect on your discussion around your team’s skills and motivations.

  • As a group think about and discuss whether you noticed any common themes in what you each bring to the project?
  • Do you share skills or do your expertise complement each other?
  • Are there particular areas of the brief you share an interest in?
  • How might the above points start to shape your ideas for the project

3. Plan your research. Based on the discussions above you should now have a few ideas of themes you might like to explore further. Don’t worry if these seem a little broad or vague at this stage you can narrow things down next week! You should use these themes to outline research you should conduct before the next session.

Research your initial themes and ideas.

You should explore the themes and concepts you have discussed as a team. Things to consider might be what knowledge do you need to really understand these concepts? Where can you find this?


You should now have met as a group and completed the tasks for this week.

This is the time (the first session) that you should also decide on a workspace to share your work. You could use an online sharing platform like SharePoint (which we recommend as it is compatible with Teams) or Google Docs. Or, if you’re able to meet in person, you can book a space to meet online or in person by booking one of the Library Workspaces in the All Saints Building.

Starting Prompts

Create a resource for the Carbon literacy page: A wordpress site that contains resources, links, video, self-written content, advice or anything else you want that instructs students and staff how to be more sustainable online and with e-waste. This can be as creative as you want

Design an online carbon footprint calculator specific to Manchester Metropolitan. This would be an online tool that asks about your use of IT services on campus and calculates your online carbon footprint.

Set-up an e-waste re-use , repair or recycle pathway for old tech from staff or students: This could be a old device swap, a partner organisation (Charity shop) or a campaign to get people to donate existing tech. This could also involve working with facilities to redirect waste pathway. Or communicate how the university currently recycles or repurposes waste.

What’s next?

Before Week 2 You Should…

1.Continue researching the project with a particular focus on the common themes you have identified within your group. It may help to find relevant case studies or existing initiatives that are similar to your early ideas. You can use the resources in the next sprint to help you get started.

2. Start to sketch out some very early ideas. These don’t have to be fully scoped out at this stage only jumping off points to spark discussion in next week’s meeting! Make a note of these early ideas and make sure to bring them to the week 2 session.

3. Keep in touch with your team, throughout the week share any interesting bits of research or ideas you might have. You can use whatever platform you like for this, although you are provided with a group Teams channel and SharePoint. Arrange a meeting.