The web can help with sustainability

Whereas the web has helped drive huge amounts of waste, it’s not all bad.

# The bad

For years, web designers have focussed on making the user journey easier. The focus has consistenly been on how to remove hurdles and help users reach their goals. But we have to ask ourselves, “at what cost?”.

In clothing retail, especially in the northern hemisphere, the web has inarguably driven the phenomenon of fast fashion. Fuelled by living your best life on Instagram, the rate at which textiles are produced, sold, shipped or returned, worn, and discarded has vastly increased.

I’ve lived and worked through this change. In 2003 I was managing a website that was shipping $1m in musical instruments every year and even back then, the hurdle that we knew was restricting our growth was dealing with returns. We knew that if we made it easier and easier to return goods then customers would be more likely to buy. We had to fight hard to convince our bosses that we wanted to encourage returns because our research was telling us that if the customer felt confident enough that they could send it back without any problems then they would be more likely to hit the add to cart button.

It even got the stage where, if they ordered two guitars, wholly expecting to send one back, we didn’t care.

I mentioned that we had a fight on our hands to get the organisation to buy in to the idea. In our view, these old guys who ran the company were missing the point. To them, it was madness. It was a total waste of time and effort. To us, it was the future!!

But looking back, they were right. It WAS madness. What on earth were we thinking?

# The ugly

Detailed breakdown of the impact

# And the good

Example of buying a spare part for a dishwasher and how that saved the whole dishwasher
Also include info about John Deere parts and the right to repair movement.
Also include the NYC Mac repair guy