#003: How environmentally friendly is the digital world? With Gerry McGovern

Find us: 
Where to find Gerry McGovern:

Gerry McGovern's website
Gerry McGovern's Books - Including World Wide Waste
Contact Gerry - gerry@gerrymcgovern.com


This podcast is sponsored by Kollectify, a content marketing agency working specifically with Shopify solutions to successfully position and promote the app or agency 

Show notes:

Hello, and welcome to episode three of the Mindful Commerce podcast. I'm Krissie, and I'm your host for this episode. In this episode, I talk to a very inspiring man who knows all about sustainability on the web and his name is Gerry McGovern. Gerry has written a book called Worldwide Waste, which is all about how digital is killing our planet, and what we can do about it. In this episode, we talk about how the digital world is killing our planet and what Gerry thinks e-commerce brands and tech companies can do to combat the problem. Amongst many other topics, we discussed the ideal synergy of going back to localisation and community with a dash of innovative technology and less data collection. I hope you enjoy this episode. It's really fascinating. If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to email us at info@mindfulcommerce.io and all the details will be in the show notes. Enjoy.

Hi, Gerry, welcome to the MindfulCommerce podcast. Thank you for joining us today. Would you like to kick things off by just telling us your story and how you ended up where you are today?

Gerry McGovern  1:22 

Okay, Krissie, and Thanks for the invite to be here. I used to many years ago, I was a freelance journalist back in there in the 90s, in the early 90s, and doing all sorts of different work for music and some, a little bit technology as well. And I came across the internet very early, maybe about '93 or so '94, sometime around then. And I thought wow, this is gonna, it's gonna change the world. And basically, from then on one way or another, either true, you know, for a while, I got commissioned to do a report for the Irish government around '94, about the future of the internet and society. And so that kept me busy for a while and then started some companies and you know, some of those companies went bust and had the whole, had the whole dot com bust experience. And then, you know, started writing books, this is my last book, worldwide waste is my eight. And traveling and doing workshops and working with clients and developed a methodology called top task, which is a kind of a prioritization system for, you know, really focusing on what matters, and that's been my main kind of work for the last 10 or 15 years is helping organisations implement top tasks projects.

Krissie  2:56 

Okay, interesting, then, so when was it that you kind of realised that digital is not so great for our planet? So, obviously, if used in the right way, it's, it's great, but yeah, tell me a little bit about that.

Gerry McGovern  3:12 

Yeah, really, only maybe two or three years ago, you know, because I always changed my computer every two years, changed my phone every two years. And, you know, I really had the impression that, that I was lucky to be working a digital like, I was, you know, watching, you know, the movements out there, and, you know, Greta Thunberg, and all those other wonderful young people, you know, really being passionate and idealistic and trying to make changes, and I kinda, I thought that's, that's nice to see. And, you know, isn't it great that, you know, where I'm, what I'm doing is, is helping them and, you know, but I taught in the back of my head, then I realised I was taking back over my careers since the 90s. And just, it kind of struck me that so many times in so many organisations, what we needed to do, specifically, say I did a lot of work for Internet's for a number of years. And that internets were just dumps and that to make them work, we nearly always had to delete 80 or 90% of the data and then systems, going into organisations and finding five or six or seven systems for training and, you know, all these duplications of systems that just got the sense of "Wow this is an incredible amount of waste in here", and nearly all the projects I've worked on where, you know, huge dumps that either the public websites, I remember, you know dealing with the US Department of Health and in one area there 200,000 pages, and they deleted 150,000 of them and nobody noticed. They didn't get a single inquiry. And I kept just seeing that. So that kinda was in the back of my head. And I thought, wow, you know, maybe digital listeners, as green as I, you know, Todd was and then when I started doing research and looking at e-waste, you know, recognising e-waste in particular, because, you know, I, I never really saw where these old computers went or cables or stuff like that. So it was really digging into the dark e-waste story that, you know, began to open up some talks that maybe digital is, is not nearly as green as I had been thinking as was over most of my career.

Krissie  6:01 

Yeah, so e-waste in terms of like, you know, your laptops, your phones. And then like, do you know where they end up? Do they end up in landfill as well?

Gerry McGovern  6:12
They do most of them. See, what we have, you know, us in the rich countries, we've created a really nice system where our air is clean, and, you know, our environments are very clean. But we've essentially outsourced waste. So we go to poor countries, and we get them to manufacture the products very, very cheaply. And whatever waste is accrued there. And, you know, in the manufacturing process, or getting the raw materials, it's rarely, like a lot of these raw materials are for, they're called rare, rare materials, because they are rare. And they're difficult to find. And often they're found in virgin habitats, or, you know, in Western Africa, where the great apes, you know, there's certain type of rare, rare that's only found there. And, you know, in unusual places, that humans had not really been in insignificant numbers. So that's how we, you know, we suck all those raw materials out of certain countries then we give those materials to people in other more poor developing countries. And then we get our nice shiny products. And then two years later, we dumped them. But what happens is, they often get back to the very set back to the very same countries that the raw materials were dug up in. So we recycle less than 20%. And even recycling is incredibly crude, like a lot of like, somebody was telling me that in data centres, they just shred, they shred the servers that are working perfectly well, you know, every three or four years, they just shred them for either security or privacy, or they're worried that data might be accessed on them. So there's these perfectly working servers, because they've got this commitment to uptime, you know, they, they have to meet 99.9% uptime. So they don't want to take that statistical chance that the server will break. So even recycling is most recycling does not actually recycle in any real sense. And then the other 80% are put on big containers and, and are sent back to poor countries where they often end up in landfills, and they end up being burned, you know, with toxic fumes, so as to get out some gold or wood. So they're in open pits. So this, we never see these pictures when we see the Apple iPhone or the or the Samsung, we see the most beautiful things. But behind the scenes is a very ugly, very ugly world that we've created. But our world looks great, you know, because we outsource. We outsource all the nasty stuff to places that consumers won't see.

Krissie  9:18 

That's crazy. That's really crazy. So would you say, so someone like me? Oh, what can I do? Can I just you know, don't upgrade my phone every year or two?

Gerry McGovern  9:32 

Yeah, that's the single biggest thing. Like somebody did a study recently at a UK entity and they said that "If you kept your phone for five years versus two years, you essentially have the water issue in making devices" so they're making less phones, right. So you, you cut in half the amount of water required and the amount of co2. So keeping it between two and five years, has a huge makes a huge difference. Because, see, the problem with electronics is that electronics are very manufacturing intensive. So, the piece of electronics requires much more energy to create than a screwdriver or a knife, you know, or, you know, some other physical object. So there's a much higher intensity of energy. And as with energy is waste and often material. So these rare earth materials to get one tonne of Iridium or whatever it is, I can't remember they did, there's about 16 or 17 rare materials, well, you probably need to do 100 tonnes of mining. And often that mining is a kind of a pollutant, they add a kind of chemicals to actually filter out these materials. So, so the the very act of mining is very toxic in the environments that it actually happens in. And it creates these huge large kind of lakes because they use a lot of water and chemicals, that kind of have got to be dammed up in in the area. So, if we hold on to, and I think I think what we need to do, as well as somehow is to agitate for repairability and fixability, because many of these phones are deliberately designed to break.

Krissie  11:43 


Gerry McGovern  11:44 

So they deliberately designed them so the designers sit around, deliberately specking out how do we make this not work after 2, 3, 4 years? And often it's with software updates, you know, so there's a deliberate strategy to actually break our phones. So that sort of, we have to buy more stuff. So, you know, there's the right to repair. There's movements beginning in the European Union are looking at, so holding on and if your phone breaks, trying to get it fixed, and going into it, why can't it be fit? Because they know if enough of us are getting in touch with the local politicians are saying this, I should be able to fix this? So fixing it when it breaks, like, so I've committed now, you know, there's my computer I've got, I'm gonna stick with it. And if and when it breaks, I'm going to try and fix it like, and I'm going to go and say, Well, how do you replace to hard disk? I want to replace to hard disk. You know? And how do I replace the screen? And why can't you replace this? You know, because if enough of us started saying that, basically we accept this world that we've been given. So hold on to it as long as you possibly can, and demand the right to repair and repair it and get it, you know, repaired and ask about those issues when you're buying. I never asked, I never considered warranty or stuff like that, or issues or you know, and get a five year often longer warranties, you know, are better. You know because they make a commitment to the organisation that they will repair it, you know, for X number of years. So, so holding on and thinking about repairability it's stuff that you know, I've already started thinking of in the last two or three years like I can't, I don't know, it's just invisible to us in so many ways.

Krissie  13:55 

Yeah and then I think if they can't repair it, they can't fix it. Well, then can they recycle it? And then are they actually recycling it properly?

Gerry McGovern  14:05 

exactly, exactly ask questions, ask. Because if thousands of us, like, somebody told me this story about a lady, I don't know if it's in Ireland or the UK or whatever. And every week she goes to the local supermarket to do her shopping. Then she buys her shopping and then she just goes beyond the tail and she takes everything out of the plastic that you know, she tries to avoid plastic if she can, but anything that has plastic, she unwraps and puts it into a bag she has carried with her and then she she just gives the plastic. Here you go. I don't want it. You know? And if only we could scale that woman. You know by a 10,000 or a million. Then we'd see change. Yeah, I think we have got to have change. at a national level, there's not this idea of blaming the consumer. Yeah, that's what the plastics industry did for 50. That was great PR, you know, we got this better recycling. We know that 90%, well, a huge percentage of plastic is not recycled. You know, that's stuff I learned. Most plastic is not recycled. It's does all we think we're doing good in the green bin, but actually, most of the time we're not. And even being aware of that, you know, that, really demanding that if you make it, you take care of it, you know. And that making the manufacturers responsible, I think, until we make the manufacturers responsible, we will never solve this problem. But I think it's up to the consumers to make the manufacturers responsible, because unfortunately, politicians, yeah, many good many bad, but are often more controlled by the hidden powers behind the scenes than we would want them to be and will nearly always defend those powers over ordinary citizen, and certainly over planet rights.

Krissie  16:18 

Yeah, definitely. I think if so, because it is to do with consumerism and overconsumption and, you know, mostly, it's the big businesses that need to change. But what do you think the small to medium size like I don't know, any e-commerce brand doesn't matter if they're, they've got sustainability at their core or not, but what can they do to make a difference?

Gerry McGovern  16:43
Well, I think what you just said they're genuine sustainability at your core, because I was reading an article there at the weekend about luxury brands and luxury thinking now. And I don't know if that's true or not, but the writer was saying that there's a real shift in what is luxury? You know, that, that it's a movement away from, you know, this, whatever that Kardashian logo, you know, that visual bling, or whatever, or variants of that gold, to days, how it's made, how much water it use, you know, that there's a shift in thinking about what is luxury, and, and what is quality and what is things I want to buy? So, I think, if we are genuinely sustainable and sustainable at the core, I don't know how much of a business that's, that's out there. But certainly, I think there's a feeling or a mode to buy local, you know, because the closer you are from the thing you consume, the less waste. So if you've got onions out in your garden, there's less waste in consuming those onions than if you buy the onions in the supermarket. So distance, so there's ideas, you know, around, you know, being local, and being nearby and, you know, calculate, and people genuinely, because a lot of times you look at it, here's a T shirt that costs, you know, 40 euros, but here's why it costs 40 euros, and we give three euros to the person who made it. Whereas she typically only gets 50 cents, you know, and there's some very good e-commerce entities, I think ask it is one of the console, where they're calculating the entire lifecycle of the product. And they're saying, and we make 10 euros on that, you know, and that's okay. Yeah, be honest and transparent and tell their story. And, you know, and yes, it costs a bit more, but here's why it costs a bit more. And actually, this will last you 5 years or 10 years, and you know that and I think I've been thinking as well like my old jeans and things like that, and then committed to where and I think, wouldn't it be great if we had a whole network of designers, you know, local design within an area, and that you say, Hey, here's, these jeans, they're beginning to shred now in places I don't want them to shred and to do something and, you know, be willing to pay the price of a new pair of jeans for the design of that pair. I would be. I don't know how many other, you know, and so they've used 70% of the materials of the jeans that I gave them, but they added 30% new material, and they put a nice design, you know, and then you're going around, and then you're genuinely unique. You've got a custom pair of jeans. But um, you paid 30 euros or 40 euros, or whatever you paid for it. And that is going to be good for the planet. And it's good for local business, and it's good. So I'm quite hopeful in many ways of, you know, genuine sustainable business is not, there's so much unfortunately, in marketing that has been a con you know, over the years, but genuine stories of genuine people, like I see, you know, I cracked my wedding ring, there a couple of months gone. I got it fixed in, in this, you know, workshop that just specialises in this sort of stuff. And it was just, it was just lovely to, obviously, the mask on and everything on the screen. But I could see the people working behind. And I could see that it was just lovely to see these people who you could just know that have 30 or 40 years of experience and, and you know, all at all cost me I think was 30 euros. I was I was thinking to myself, why would I get from a writer or a developer or a programmer for 30 euros? Like, here, I got the ring back and it closed. It is like new, polished. And there's no way you could see the crack, the old crack. This was just, just beautiful work. And it cost me 30 euros. So it's not that expensive to give craftspeople work, and you get beautiful stuff back. You know, so I think there's models and this is how the web can be used that to connect up with Google and then to connect up with Coca Cola, or, whoever wants to manipulate the next election that we we can connect up with, you know, John, the goldsmith, you know, or Susan, who's a great at designing, you know, clothes and, you know, she just lives 20 miles away, or that you can somehow get it to people it who are more distant, but it's sent by a really economical energy conserving transport mechanism, and they'll do it. And I think there are ways and means that whether it's genuine sustainability, whether it's making cheese, or, you know, like, I think there's a mode for that.

Krissie  22:53 

So basically, going back to the old times where there was no online shops, there was no, you know, it's all local and lovely, and community of makers and craft, crafty, men.

Gerry McGovern  23:07 

Yeah, but with technology, like with, like that, that you get a notification that says, oh, your friend Marius is in the coffee shop now, you know, I mean, obviously, all of this has to be careful in privacy and but with the, because often we don't know what's local, that's the funny thing. You know, we don't know what's near us, in many ways where we're more aware of what's 10,000 miles away, you know. We don't know that there's a craft cheese maker down the road, most of us don't. So the technology can connect that, can be a connective local tissue. So it's not, I don't want, I grew up on a small farm, you know, where we didn't even have machinery, I don't want to go back to that work. As nice as some people might think it was, I thought was absolutely horrible. Like, I like having a phone. I love checking up stuff. You know, online, I like connecting up with interesting people. And so I don't, I want the benefits of both. And I think we can, we can have both. So I'm not, I'm not anti technology. I'm just anti waste. And a kind of us being owned by Facebook and Google and Amazon and just making another trillion for Jeff Bezos. I have no interest in that.

Krissie  24:32 

Absolutely not. I think there needs to be a really nice happy medium. But I think, so the biggest thing of technology is data. And big data is a solution to many problems, but only used in the right way. And I just think, I'd like to ask you if you think there's a happy medium between the amount of data that we need and the data that we don't need, so for example, Facebook, Google, like, what do you think is the happy medium there?

Gerry McGovern  25:09 

I think most data is not useful and is not used. And there's a very crude way that we work in that we try and collect everything with the expectation that we are, at least we have it, and we might find a use for it later. So I think we need a much more mindful understanding of what we need to collect and what we need to use, like, i've had an email newsletter since 1996, just a simple 500 words every week. And then, you know, over the years or recently I was trying to say, How do I get it? Because I don't want or I don't care who opened it or didn't open it? It's no, I don't want to track people. Like I don't I don't want to do any of that. It's almost impossible to find a company that doesn't track that you know, tracking is just inherent what you mean, you don't want tracking? You have to have it. Like No, I don't want it does, it has no benefit to me. It is zero benefit and have zero interest in it and in tracking. So I don't want it, no, but you have to have, like we collect, whether people want it or not. Whether it's used or not. It's collected. And, you know, for years as well, like I just wanted a text newsletter. And the systems I choose, I set it up as text, and then six months later it be HTML will become an asset. How is this happening? Like, it's like, the system is demanding that you go to that ultimate level, like we've designed systems and structures that they always seek to max out either on features or collection of data. And I think, really thinking do we need this because when my core has been this the research, the top tasks. And then with the top task list, there's a number of segmentation questions. And, you know, really trying to get, I always say no more than 5 to 8 maximum or whatever. But often keeping people within the maximum is a real challenge in many situations. And then even with that, often, they don't even look at the detailed data Even then, to 5 to 8, the look at it once, they'll take the top level data and maybe use it but you know, we don't, it's like we're buying tomatoes, and we buy, you know, 10 kilos of potatoes every week. And we only use one kilo or a half a kilo. And nine and a half kilos is just get stored in the cloud. And,  it's nine and a half kilos or gigabytes every week. And we only use half a kilo. Why don't we collect the half a kilo that we use? Then, you know, the impact on the data centres on our servers on our computers on our processing. All these stats that say 90% of data is never used three months after it's created. If we could, if we could only deal with 50% of that. Think of how many less computers, less meetings, the amount of meetings I've sat in over the years of teams on a Monday morning or whatever, talking about the The Google Analytics and trying to seem intelligent about bounce rates and time on pages. Most analytics is bullshit. It's analytics theatre. It's, it has no meaning. And people go and they do things that oh, we should. Oh, that page was really looked at a lot. Yeah, well, yeah. What are you gonna do? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, we're really popular now. Yeah, you're the WHO, It's a pandemic.

Krissie  29:14 


Gerry McGovern  29:16 

You know, most of these metrics can mean, horrible are good. You know, lots of people visiting the page. Yeah, maybe your product is crummy. Like, your pricing is confusing. Like so, so much of this stuff. And when I talk to people, they really don't know what they're doing. I think there's an awful lot of people and an awful lot of companies that actually don't know what they're doing.

Krissie  29:45 

Yeah, especially with data.

Gerry McGovern  29:47 

They're about a month ago, we were looking at the blackberries out on the, you know, the roadsides or the hedges and, and I was thinking now if this was a big data problem, Look, what would what would Big Data people do? They'd hire a huge digger, and a trailer. And they'd go out and they take off all the hedges, you know, for a five or 10 mile radius. And then they'd bring them back to a huge yard, and they dumped them in that yard. And then they'd start looking for the berries. Yeah, that's the way we approach big data, we collect, you know, all of this stuff. And most of it is, is absolute crap. It's totally, it's totally never, it would never be used. Because when you look at it, at a level of data, you get down to a certain level, there is data, that is totally, absolutely without question, useless. You know, it's like you saved, for some reason the system is outputting Excel files, and CSV files, you know, there's these sorts of it, and you only need Excel files or you only need CSV files. Yeah. Or there's a duplication happening here, or there's a, you know, there's this happening, or there's, like, there's things happening in data, that anybody any sort of analysis would look at it, we don't need that that's a, that's not used, there's no way we'll ever use that. You know, I don't care whether we bring in 50 Einsteins, that's just not usable. And that can be 20, 30, 40, 50% of the data being being collected, and not alone is it not useful if you're training the AI on crap.

Krissie  31:35 

Yeah for sure. And then their technology isn't right, then, if they're learning.

Gerry McGovern  31:42 

It's getting these strange biases, or these strange, you know, behavior patterns. Because, you know, if AI was a human, you know, we bring it into McDonald's every day and force it to eat everything, you know, 15 Big Macs, and eat and then go to the West Bend and eat that as well. You know, that's, that's the way we're training our AI. Our AI is will be strange beasts.

Krissie  32:09 

Oh weird, what a strange thought. So in your opinion, then. So say if you're building an app, what are the most important considerations that they should think about? For example, like, I don't know, a customer review app, which integrates on Shopify stores. Like how can they decide which data they collect, and which they don't?

Gerry McGovern  32:40 

Yeah, so number one, do you even need the app? Or do you know like, I downloaded the government app for COVID-19? I don't know if it works any more, you know, or is it really useful? Or, you know, is it practical? You know, we don't ask those hard questions like, Oh, you know, this really requires Bluetooth, to work effectively. Like, is that, you know, is Bluetooth stable? Will it really collect? You know, so really asking, is this one, you know, kind of, can we collect this properly and efficiently and  really digging into, you know, we're coming out at the cult of move fast and break things and we've seen, they've broken a lot, you know, Facebook, et al, they've, they've really managed to break America kinda to break the USA. They've move fast, and they broke the USA, in,  their cult of speed and stuff like that, and a little bit of thoughtfulness and about, what are we trying to achieve? And can we achieve it through the website? Why do we need an app? You know, why can it not be, can it not work, true to you, what does it actually need to really do? And then, you know, even if we're unsure of our data, well say, well, well, let's collect for six months or three months, or, like, why do we need to track like, and what can we achieve by not tracking? Like, what if we say to, you know, what's the cost of tracking? You know, what can we say, to, you know, the customer, like, we don't track you. What's that world? You know, what sidewalk as a branding statement, you know, no tracking here. You know, we we'll chat with you, but we don't track you. We don't collect information on you, you know, other than if you buy something from us, but here's exactly what we collect. And otherwise, you know, we don't and how much faster will our page with things be if we don't track and you know, and If we don't do this not enough people ask, what's the benefits of not doing this?

Krissie  35:05 

Exactly! And also, I was going to ask you, if I was trying to persuade a tech company, like don't store this data, because it damages the planet, because dot dot dot? What would those... how would you fill in those dots?

Gerry McGovern  35:21 

Well, speed will be well, privacy and, you know, definitely, you know, and I think there's a big moment. I think there's a building tsunami of privacy coming of people, you know, wanting to be protected and wanting to be more anonymous, and, you know, much more skeptical about people collecting their data, I really get a sense that a movement gathering momentum, so I think the organisations that are positioned in the future, that actually are the least intrusive, you know, in people's lives will, you know, have a real positioning statement of, you know, sustainability will probably be a key element of that will be, you know, minimum collection of data, because the less data, the less waste. You know, there's every piece of data requires energy to create and to store. Yeah. So, you know, and of course, the less data created, or the less tracking, the faster, the better the experience on the page downloading. I see. Yeah. New York Times have announced they're, they're stopping cookies, you know, they're, moving. And see, most of this doesn't even work. You know, I've seen in studies that you get just as good an advertising return from contextual advertising than from all this. But most of it is, most of it is trickery. And it's, it's, it doesn't actually work. Like it actually, it's just phantasmagoria stuff. It's magic. You know, Google said years ago, they got rid of the magic in advertising. No, they didn't, they just, they brought back the magic micro targeting God, called Google. Most of the times, it doesn't actually work, putting an ad for sports shoes, or whatever, in the sport section is just as effective as trying to target me, you know, and understand that now I need sports shoes, like so. So no, this stuff actually doesn't work. So find out what actually works. And, you know, at least if you're going to destroy the planet, have a purpose to destroy. You know, if you if you're going to create waste and use energy, at least use it for a purpose, but to create waste just to fill a dump. Yeah. You know, so purposeful. And knowing that, you know, there is a there is an argument to go out there to consumers and say, well, we are, you know, we're in the lowest tier of tracking, we collect the minimal amount of information on you. Certainly, that's the type of company I'd be interested in doing business with.

Krissie  38:24 

Yeah, for sure. I think at the moment, the struggle is that, you know, personalisation in e commerce is a really big trend. And it has been for a while. And so you know, you get personalised emails, where the recommended products based on what you've previously purchased. And so if your company is based on that, and like, that's what your USP is, we're a personalisation app.

Gerry McGovern  38:51 

Yeah, and if it's working, it's what, you know, but a lot of these are not working, you know, they're actually not work. I saw studies that you know, something 80 90% of these personalisation projects did not show return on investment. A lot of this stuff is magic. You know, it's, it's snake oil sales, it's actually not as effective as it's been made out to be. You know, so is it actually working? You know? Like, is it actually all these personal emails? You know, or is it just annoying the hell out to your customers? You know, for every for every one that you convert, have you have you pissed off 20 more?

Krissie  39:36 

Yeah. Because I think, you know, yeah, like you said, you're gonna piss people off, and if they're more switched on to it now, it's like, oh, that's just a personalised ad.

Gerry McGovern  39:49 

I don't know about you, Krissie. But every time I get an email from anybody, you know, and like that, the first thing I got is straight unsubscribe. I said I didn't give them permission, you know, everybody  seems to think they can bombard you? You know, and and I go straight unsubscribe or, you know, they're going into junk or whatever. So I think then, because everyone is doing, everyone's trying to be personal with you, and, you know, think of how creepy that is.

Krissie Leyland  40:29

Yeah, yeah. So I guess, then the three things that you would recommend is to think, is this actually going to be, Is this going to work? Do I need this data? And if not, then don't store it.
Gerry McGovern  40:49

Yeah, don't. And maybe there's an angle, you know, that you could test even if you've got numerous companies, or you're an open start and you say, you know, you come out, you're young, you're a start, and you say, we're not creepy. We don't personalise, we don't collect. Well, you won't be getting tons of emails from us, I promise, you know, you, we will not be bombarding you. You know, that's our commitment. Could that work? Or we will only send you six emails a year maximum.
Krissie Leyland  41:25

You know, only if we really need to email you.
Gerry McGovern  41:28

Yeah. You know, so we're not going to annoy you. That's part of our commitment. That's part of our total calculation, you know, of, the total cost of this T shirt. You know, because the 15 customised emails are part of the T shirt as well, cost as well. You know, and, the data it sucked up. So, you know, I think there's a conscious consumer out, or more conscious consumers. I mean, I hope there is because if we, if there isn't, we have no chance.
Krissie Leyland  42:03

There is. That's what the MindfulCommerce community is. So, but then a brand might argue, right, so if I'm not going to send any emails, I'm probably not going to be on social media that much. So how do I get my message out there? How do I tell people about this new product that we've got that is sustainable and it is ethical?
Gerry McGovern  42:26

Well, maybe maybe, you are on, you are calculating you know, are you saying, we will just send you six emails a year, you know, we will just say, you know, and our emails are, X number of K, you know, and actually two of those will be text only, you know, for those who read, and we will, we use social media, but we don't, we only use video, every 50 post and we really think about video. And we tend to use text. And, you know, we use SMS messages in a clever way, because an SMS message creates 295 times less pollution than an email. You know, so there's different scales up from, from a text message to an email, to an audio to a video, like 30 seconds of video is like 60,000 or 100,000 or 200,000 text messages, you know, one 30 second, you know, so, you know, we're careful. And we compress well, and we do all these sorts of things. But if I thought, you know, somebody was consciously, you know, connecting with me, like, I'll open, if they do send me an email, then, you know, from, you know, that ring, they fixed the ring. Yeah, but we're bombarded you know, we just bomb everybody's telling us how much they care about us during COVID-19 whether they're airlines, you know, like, whatever.
Krissie Leyland  44:08

I delete those ones now.
Gerry McGovern  44:10

Yeah, well, it's all a blur, isn't it? Like, it's all you just, you just thought you want to live your life a bit like, you know, so? I think that there's a space as you say, for, for mindful commerce.
Krissie Leyland  44:26

Yeah, definitely. And and I think, you know, when we are back to normal, because we will get back to normal, or the new normal. Instead of emailing and you know, social media, maybe we'll be able to do more events and like, you know, community events. And then they can promote their brand that way. But yeah, I like the idea of just having just saying, right, we're not collecting your data, we're not going to target you. And here's all the reasons why.
Gerry McGovern  44:57

Yeah, or here's all the data, here's what we collect on you. And it's typically only 20% of what others will collect. And you can go out and check that, you know. So we say, we need to collect it, you know, or we feel or this helps, because we want to keep the size your size of your shoe. You know, and, and we will let you know, but only, you know, if, in a maybe in two years or, and we take back your shoes, we will repair them and sell them or, you know, or, you know, that's our sort of stuff. It's really, truly useful from both sides. You know, it's not it's not "No", you know, but some, some environments will say we actually, we don't need any. Some will say, you know, actually, when we look at it, the nature of our product, we don't need to collect anything. So all we need to collect very little, but really thinking that every, every collection is an invasion. Tracking, I mean, when the tracking ever seemed like a positive thing. You know, think of the very word tracking, you know? And the dangers inherent in being tracked? Who wants to be tracked? 
Krissie Leyland  46:20

I just don't know if anyone is aware, like, because businesses aren't that transparent about it, or, you know, there's this really long chunk of text telling you about the data, and you just accept it without reading it, because you just don't have the time to read it. So they get away with it.
Gerry McGovern  46:37

Krissie Leyland  46:39

Yeah. So if, if brands are more transparent, about if they are collecting data, why they are, then I think that's okay.
Gerry McGovern  46:49

Yeah, and, you know, let's see real sustainable brands, mindful brands that, you know, are not out to screw us, are not out to fool us and not out, you know, and say, here's a reason, here's our problem. Yeah, great. You know, I think there's lots of people want to buy gold from those sorts of people. Yeah, you know, that, work hard and create beautiful things and that are genuinely useful and are repairable and are, you know, use as natural products as possible and don't use too many chemicals in the creation. You know, there is nothing wrong with that. That's a nice story. That's a good story. And, and if we need to collect some data, to make that story work, that's okay. But we do, we think about it, you know, what do we need to collect, what's really necessary, you know, and, you know, we're constantly trying to reduce the waste, whether it's the waste in the data, or the waste and the garment or the waste in the laptop, like, you know, for not, if we're not processing all this stupid data, then the laptop will last another year. 
Krissie Leyland  48:13

Yeah, good point. 
Gerry McGovern  48:14

Oh, you know, because the less stress I mean, if you don't drive your car as much your car last longer to, generally speaking, you know, so. So computers, like everything else, are affected by use, and if there's lots of intensive use, and so if you're not processing, if you're only processing, one gigabyte versus 30 gigabyte, that's, it's less energy, it's less stress on the parts. And you didn't need that other 40. And a lot of it is comes back to this mindfulness of really thinking about what you're doing, rather than just grabbing everything, and then bringing it all back home and saying "Now what? Oh, I don't want this, I don't want this, don't want this, don't want this" you know, be much more conscious about our decisions. And technology, the great danger of technology, Is that it is it stopping us actually thinking.
Krissie Leyland  49:15

Yeah, it is. Especially when you're sending an email and it finishes your sentence for you. And you're like, Oh, so I don't need to use my brain nails.
Gerry McGovern  49:27

Yeah, and that a, then you use it less and less and then we just become addicts. We don't, you don't, we lose our sense of agency in our very lives and then we start doing things to our customers because we don't, they're not it's not even that is, It's some it's some AI record on McDonald's data. Yeah, no, that's bombarding customers because of some flaw in the, in the connection or the interpretation of the data, because here's the thing about customisation. It can be wonderful. It can work. But when you get it wrong, you can get it extraordinarily wrong.
Krissie Leyland  50:17

Oh, gosh, so true. Do you have an example of someone who's got it? 
Gerry McGovern  50:22

Well you know, try, you know, all of these things like, you know, figuring out, you know, that, hey, someone in your household is pregnant, why not buy some clothes for the baby, or, you know, that has actually happened, or, you know, or, you know, all sorts of things where, you know, Facebook would be showing pictures of children who had died and families and so on the, the remembrance, or the, you know, what nice things happened this year, you know, it can get really, really ugly in people's lives. I mean, and look at the way these algorithms really operate. The work on our worst instincts. I mean, we see, I mean, the society that AI is building is not a pretty society in the USA at the moment, you know, it's not a pretty society, it is not building the society that tech is building. We are the customisation in or the targeted advertising. And it's not it's not a pretty society, we, you know, the USA is the most tech advanced society on Earth. Is that, is that the future we want for the world?
Krissie Leyland  51:43

Probably not. I think we need to talk about all of this more so that people realise what's going on. And then... because basically it you know, big tech companies are manipulating us. 
Gerry McGovern  51:55

Yeah, and all they care about, and these those big tech companies, they have no, they have no nations, they don't belong. They may be in Silicon Valley, but, you know, their accounts are in the Cayman Islands, or they they don't exist in any community. They have no loyalty to nothing. Other than the accumulation of the maximum, they don't, they will... Look at them, they make the biggest profits of any companies on earth, and they pay the least taxes because they are optimised to screw the earth basically. I mean that's what Facebook and Amazon are, screw the earth, that's their optimisation model. You know, maximise profit, minimise tax. It's not that they're bad people or, you know, it's just that that's the machine they've built. 
Krissie Leyland  52:47

Yeah. Oh, crazy times. 
Gerry McGovern  52:52

Yeah but not, but not, beyond our reach yet.
Krissie Leyland  52:56

We can still stop can't we? We can still make a difference.
Gerry McGovern  53:01

I think so. I mean, we at least have to try.
Krissie Leyland  53:04

Yeah. More conversations like this, I think.
Gerry McGovern  53:08

Krissie Leyland  53:10

Um, so if you could give one tip to our listeners. So they are e-commerce, tech developers and e-commerce brands, what would that tip be?
Gerry McGovern  53:22

I mean, I think move slow and fix things, you know, and be thoughtful, be mindful. Think about your decisions more. I mean, this, you know, agile and sprinting, it's great, but you can sprint in the wrong direction. Like, and really thinking about the decision before we make it and the parameters of the decision, I'm thinking, we've got trapped in this total short term loop of, we can't think beyond a week or a month. We got to think longer. And we can, and it requires exercise and requires disciplines and requires doing maybe games or whatever, to actually stretch our minds, you know, like, like, we stretch our muscles who we need to stretch our minds. We still can, we've got this wonderful human brain that is actually still much more efficient than the most efficient AI, you know, like that consumes the energy consumption, you know, of the brain, it's about 20 watts an hour. Think of all the stuff that the brain does for 20 watts an hour. It's good value. And it's an it's the most sustainable thing you know, that that's out there. So getting people and, designing things, you know, that get people out there, away from the machines. Like that they're taking walks or you know, enjoying food or they're, you know, because everything in digital is consuming energy. So how do we get help people using technology partly but to live their lives more in nature rather than in technology? In technology 20% at a time rather than 80% and I don't mean no technology, but that like getting people to be more human, because we are human. We are not machines yet we are not circuit boards.
Krissie Leyland  55:32

No, not yet. You said yet, does that mean we might be one day?
Gerry McGovern  55:36

We will be, we will gradually become, you know, over 50 or hundred years, we will become, we will have brain implants. And we will have, you know, eye implants and become a time where we either when did the human stop and the sidebar begin I'm sure that, you know that. But that is a potential outcome of the way things are progressing. If we're not, unless we say well hold on a minute, do we really want to go this path but right now, we're still human. Unless in giant here, we made lots of mistakes. And hopefully we can learn. But right now we are flesh and bone and brain and if we do that, right, we can be less impactful on the environment, and less destructive. Combining the best of technology with the best of humans. I think that's the perfect outcome, but just treating technology as if it's some sort of a magic God, like, we are so susceptible to this idea of the God that knows it all. That'll figure it all out for us. And really, we replaced, you know, the traditional gods, with Apple and Google and Facebook and AI and they will no more lead us to a blissful world than the old ones really did.
Krissie Leyland  57:13

Amazing, very powerful. Very powerful answer, Gerry. Thank you. Thank you so much. So Gerry, where can people find you and how can they find out more?
Gerry McGovern  57:28

Worldwide Waste is available at GerryMcGovern.com. You can read it for free there or buy a copy of it.
Krissie Leyland  57:38

This series is sponsored by Kollectify. Kollectify is a content marketing agency working specifically with Shopify solutions to successfully position and promote the app or agency. Episodes go out every Monday so don't forget to subscribe or you might miss a few knowledge bombs. And finally, if you'd like to join the MindfulCommerce community with lots of conscious brands and e-commerce experts, who are all working together to make change, please email info@mindfulcommerce.io and I'll send you the deets!