How to Be a Sustainable Web Designer

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show, we talk about the practicalities of going green and ask whether it is possible to be a sustainable web designer.

This episode of the Boagworld show is sponsored by Express VPN and Adskills.

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Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld Show this is podcast series that is about to reach out was professionally recorded live and attended by drop in guests with no idea what is going to happen in each show, but we do have as always, Marcus Lillington, the one consistent in this otherwise chaotic season. Hello?

Marcus: Yep. I was trying to listen to you then, and read something that came up on my side of my screen. How that happens sometimes and I think, “I shouldn’t be reading that. I shouldn’t be reading that,” but isn’t it Paul? But I’ve got no idea what that said, or what you said. Hello Paul.

Paul: [crosstalk 00:01:07] Basically. Hello. How are you? You look a bit better than you did when I saw you on Friday.

Marcus: Yeah, my eyes are better now, but I’ve still got a sore throat. It just goes on and on and on. But then I stick my finger in there, which hurts a bit. Don’t do that. By the way. There’s no swelling. What’s going on? Has Paul had enough sugar yet? First comment. First very wise insightful comment from the chat room. Have you had enough sugar yet Paul.

Paul: I’ve always. Even though I’ve been eating bananas-

Marcus: You’ve got energy- [crosstalk 00:01:40]

Paul: … healthy energy sources. Yeah, I know, but-

Marcus: That’s why they taste so good.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So yes, we met up on Friday for the [Head Scape 00:01:53] Christmas duo and we had the- [crosstalk 00:01:56]

Marcus: Head Scape’s birthday we decided it was in the end of the week.

Paul: Oh, was it?

Marcus: Yeah.

Paul: Oh, okay.

Marcus: Head Scape’s birthday dinner, because Head Scape was 18.

Paul: 18 years blooming heck. And what I can’t get over is it’s been five years since I stopped working with Head Scape on a daily basis.

Marcus: Yeah, I know.

Paul: Well we had.

Marcus: Time.

Paul: Time flies.

Marcus: Indeed. Stops for no man.

Paul: Indeed. Right. Well that was a scintillating start to the show. I felt that we really kicked it off there with a bang.

Marcus: I thought you were going to say something brilliant about how good the food was or was… Weren’t they a bunch of idiots as ever laughing all the way.

Paul: I did very much. I did very much enjoy catching up with Lee in particular. I was sitting next to Lee at the meal. I had you on one side but you were sickly, and not really firing on all cylinders. And then I had Lee on the other side who was just his normal, amazing self. He is just such a legend that [crosstalk 00:02:56].

Paul: I love him so much. Yeah, it was great laughing. It was a really funny, but it’s really nice to see everybody. I’ve got to say I do miss that. The last three years has been wonderful in some senses, but I do actually miss you guys. I think there’s something really important and good about being part of a team on a permanent basis.

Paul: And it is difficult when you’re a freelancer, and you don’t have that around you all the time, which to be honest, it’s kind of part of the reason I vote for this show, because it gives us a reason to catch up, doesn’t it?

Marcus: Yep, yep, yep.

Paul: And this season, the idea of doing a virtual meetup really is about encouraging people to start going to meetups and conferences and things like that. I was at a meetup, when was that? This week? It must have been yesterday. I can’t remember, anyway.

Marcus: You surely remember what happened yesterday, Paul? No?

Paul: You think so, wouldn’t you? But, no. No. So yeah, I went to one in Bournemouth, and it was-

Marcus: Or just down the road.

Paul: It was great. Yeah, it was really lovely and everybody was really friendly and I had a good chat, and got to have a nose around the JP Morgan offices, which were very swanky and fancy as you can imagine. So these things are really good and in fact, I’ve got a blog post coming out. Will it be out by the time this is out?

Paul: So I’ll put link in the show notes to that post basically saying, “Look guys if you want to build your career, in UX or wherever else, really you need to be going to these kinds of things.” No, partly for your career, but also just because it’s nice, and oftentimes we’re working in isolation, so- [crosstalk 00:04:46]

Marcus: Well, this joke about sort of like geeks don’t like people and all that kind of thing. It’s not true. We all rely on being part of a bigger group.

Paul: Yes.

Marcus: As human beings some of us are extroverts, some of us are introvert. It doesn’t mean to say if you’re an introvert, you don’t need to be part of these groups-

Paul: No.

Marcus: … and get something out of them, so yeah. It’s really important.

Paul: So hence we have our Slack Channel, which is lovely. If you want to become a part of that you can go to, but nothing quite beats meeting people in person. Perhaps I’m just old, but… And I’m probably the most antisocial person you will ever meet. But even I got to say it’s worth getting out of your little hovel, your nice cozy hole and going and encountering other people.

Paul: So if you fancy coming along and joining us as half a dozen or so people are doing at the moment as we record these live, then you can go to and come along and join in and come on the show. Is Michelle in today? I haven’t seen Michelle because that would be really annoying, because I was all ready to grill her following last week show, but she’s-

Marcus: She’s deliberately not here.

Paul: She’s deliberately hidden away. Damn her. She got a job. That’s the trouble, isn’t it? These people that work for a living. Do you know what I’ve mainly been doing? We normally start off with these sessions by talking about what we’ve been doing. Do you know the main- [crosstalk 00:06:28]

Marcus: Going to meetups and Head Scape dinners by the sound of it.

Paul: Well, yeah that, and doing my son’s Computer Science homework. That was a good one.

Marcus: Really. I find it hard to believe that you could do his homework, but seeing his age, he’s what, 17.

Paul: I know it was pretty damn stressful if I may say so. So he’s doing A Level computer science and he had to set up… It was all on Linux for a start, and he had to set up a web server with something called Flask that I’ve never heard of, and then put a framework on it called Ginger. Ginger two, again which I’d never heard of. And it was all done by the command line, and I wanted to kill myself.

Marcus: Yes.

Paul: It was horrendous from beginning to end. It took both of us working on it. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:07:25] most of the day. It took both of us like three hours to do, and the real pitch annoying thing about it is then he goes back into class to take this in, but you didn’t even check. You didn’t even check whether it was working or not. Flipping bloody waste of time that is.

Marcus: I can remember when my son started doing A Level maths and I did A Level maths for one term, maybe two before I walked out.

Paul: Yeah, I don’t like you.

Marcus: Well I did walk out. Yeah, and I’ve always told people to this day that I walked out to sign a record contract, there was a six month gap.

Paul: Really?

Marcus: Yes.

Paul: Ah, now that’s a very enlightening little thing that I feel has been missing from your stories for the last 18 years.

Marcus: Yeah. Thank God. Though I was like, “I don’t like this education anymore. I was doing maths and physics and it was like just no and, but it all came back to bite me again when James was doing A Level maths, and then he went on to do physics at university and the maths hew was showing me there was just like… It didn’t just.

Paul: Yeah, I’ve got to say I was able to help him, but it was really a kind of muddle-through-together type scenario. So according to Lewis, Ginger is basically a rolls Royce compared to WordPress’s Ford. So apparently it’s really good. Who knew?

Paul: All I got as far as doing was setting it up. I could have dumped you Lewis in the flipping Slack Channel when I was struggling with that. I should’ve asked you, shouldn’t I really? So what you’ve been up to Marcus? You’ve been doing anything interesting?

Marcus: Yeah. Well after our little chat on… Paul has been providing me with marketing advice basically, and we just… He’s a director of the company, so Brighton Proper I think. But now I’ve been thinking about, as we discussed, putting together some kind of report for the major sectors that we work within.

Marcus: We can’t decide which one, but I’m thinking about what we could bring, how we could help or what advice we could bring to the law sector, because we work with a number of different law based organizations and it’s things like, they seem to be wrapped up in buying proprietary software a lot, so I could talk about that proprietary versus open source.

Marcus: Accessibility is a major issue for them. Mainly because they don’t want to get sued, because they’re legal people. And also I think for them they’re a little bit behind the curve maybe with the kind of stuff that we’ve been thinking about for years about kind of delivering websites through mobile devices, offline content.

Marcus: That kind of stuff that they haven’t even heard about yet, as opposed to where maybe sectors like IT probably have heard about. I think there’s a kind of general sort of what’s happening in UX, versus accessibility, versus sort of proprietary software story there.

Paul: It’s an interesting one, isn’t it? Because you’ve got… On one hand you’ve got law where you’ve probably got more to say, than the higher education sector, because they’re further behind and that’s been your focus more recently has been in the law sector.

Paul: But on the other hand, you’ve got a bigger reach in the higher education sector to kind of put the report in front of people. So yeah, it’s a tricky one.

Marcus: And charity is the other big sector for us as well. So it’s kind of like… We’re just arming and worrying about what our story could be. So that’s what I’ve been working on.

Paul: The other… Interestingly going back to the conversation we had a minute and go about Ginger and WordPress and people are saying that WordPress is a truck with three wheels. So I think is a bit derogatory of them. It’s perfectly okay, my own site runs on WordPress and I’ve been trying to… It’s sorted out at the moment. About that site has been going for about 15 years I think. Not all of that time on WordPress, but the vast majority.

Paul: And so it’s like it’s plugin upon plugin, and it’s just a mess. And I’ve tried to keep it tidy as I go along. So I’ve been now… Paul [Ebwoods 00:12:07] is saying, “Yeah, I need to get a bit… Do a bit of optimization on it,” and you’re absolutely right. And it was actually, Paul it was you that kicked it off, because there was one particular post that ranks pretty well that I’ve got, but I’m want to try and push it up the rankings, because it ranks really well for calls to action, and that’s a really good term to have for me.

Paul: So I was asking about that in the Slack Channel and Paul said, “Well, you probably need to optimize the performance,” which is spot on. He’s absolutely right. And that kind of opened up this can of worms going, “I really need to optimize more of the site.” So I’ve been doing that and it’s just… I just… It’s so complicated. Not that because… Well, it’s because you’ve got things like, “No it’s not so much for…”

Paul: Paul, can I get you on? Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about a bit of optimization. If you think this is so flipping fun. No, see now suddenly he’s gone. Oh no, no. I don’t want to come on. No I don’t want to talk about that. Yeah, you’re all mouth and no trousers. [crosstalk 00:13:14] That’s the trouble with you. Oh, I look awful today and I’m in a blanket.

Marcus: I’ve been sick boy for a month. I know I’ve got an idea, Paul.

Paul: What’s that?

Marcus: You can hire an agency to fix it all for you.

Paul: Yeah, but I’m too tight.

Marcus: That’s the trouble. Now makes rates.

Paul: It’s one of those things, isn’t it? The trouble is, it’s actually quite good for me to do it myself, because I learn as I’m doing it. And so I’ve been going through, and you’ve for example, I was finding that I had some rules on my CDN Caching, my CloudFlare. That was actually meaning that certain assets weren’t getting cached when they should have been.

Paul: And so I’m kind of learning stuff as I go along and it is quite interesting Paul. You say it’s a lot of fun. I wouldn’t go say as far as saying it’s a lot of fun, but it’s certainly an interesting little puzzle that I’d been working on recently.

Paul: Oh, it’s Lowe volunteering. Did I just notice that. Oh, looks like Lowe’s going to fix my website for free. That’s brilliant. I’m going to just take it as that’s what he was saying. Even though he blows me- [crosstalk 00:14:31]

Marcus: Of course he was.

Paul: Not to be on the show. That’s fine Lowe. You don’t have to be on the show if you fix my website for me. Why the hell not? Apparently he’s going to do it. Great. That’s brilliant. So I don’t know whether they were all arguing about he’s got to come on the show. I don’t think anyone…

Paul: Is anybody up for coming on and having a little chat today. Lewis looks like he does. Apparently he doesn’t care that he hasn’t shaved. So am I going to get Lewis on? Let’s see if he’ll agree, but you know I’ve not never seen. [crosstalk 00:15:05]

Marcus: Yes. Excellent. Good man.

Paul: Let me see. There we go. Because I don’t think I’ve actually seen Lewis face to face. How do I use that? I’ve just sent you an invite Lewis, and you just click on that. Hopefully you’ve got some kind of headphone and mic set up.

Paul: So I’ve been learning all about WordPress performance and the pitches plugins basically. Plugins put in all kinds of stuff into your installation that you don’t really realize what it’s doing. That is- [crosstalk 00:15:38] Hello Lewis.

Lewis: I’m still not shy if [crosstalk 00:15:42] it gets old pretty quickly.

Paul: I don’t think really, I have either.

Lewis: I’ve got no more than I need now than on top.

Paul: Oh yes, I know that feeling very much. So how are you Lewis? How are you doing?

Lewis: I’m babysitting a COO from hell at the moment.

Paul: Oh dear.

Lewis: Yeah. And I’m trying to work out. Does anyone know how to get your device ID out of an iOS device in iOS nine.

Paul: No. You’re talking to the- [crosstalk 00:16:11]

Marcus: I’ve got the words, I know what I mean individually, but no idea what- [crosstalk 00:16:15]

Lewis: They’ve asked me for some code that doesn’t seem to exist, or at least it’s not code in the UI, which is not fun.

Marcus: Okay. Lewis, no one does, no one ever. There you go. [crosstalk 00:16:28]

Paul: You got a definitive answer from the chat room. So what are you exactly… What you’re working on at the moment then?

Lewis: So right now I’m working on an app frame, like a mobile app, which is just a web browser, which launches something that’s like a mobile first version of a SAS app. But as well as that, because I’m not allowed to do one thing at once. They keep loads of things onto me.

Lewis: As well as that I’ve also got to fix some production issues so the that base is being spoken to consistently and I’ve got to fix some programs to… Linuxy programs you have to compile great fun.

Paul: Oh dear. I don’t like the sound of either of though. The first job sounded relatively nice and then it went down dill dramatically. The thing that I particularly liked there was the line is not connecting to a database consistently. In other words-[crosstalk 00:17:22]

Lewis: So that’s it. But then yeah.

Paul: And then it randomly doesn’t do it. [crosstalk 00:17:26] … committed problems are a bitch, aren’t they? I mean just a nightmare.

Lewis: You know what the real problem is, Paul? Everyone thinks that they can buy expertise really cheap. So they pay a SAS provider and they go, “This’ll work.” And then when it doesn’t work, they go, “Can you look inside the box?” Well, no, because it’s their box. The biggest fun.

Paul: Exactly. But it’s so tempting, isn’t it? When there are these nice off the shelf products that were already been prebuilt for you.

Lewis: Oh no, no. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use them. I’m just being so real, because I’m having to deal with one, I’ll use it. But I like to say that the business is your choice. And then when it goes badly I go, “Well you made a bad choice, didn’t you?” should’ve paid me more to build that thing for you. Gave him a chance.

Paul: Come back to bite them eventually. So you’re a freelancer, are you? As I remember.

Lewis: I was freelance. I’ve got in house, I was working in [Massland 00:18:22] for almost a year.

Paul: All right.

Lewis: Yeah, it was really cool.

Paul: I didn’t know that. So- [crosstalk 00:18:27]

Lewis: I don’t know where he works now.

Paul: Right. Okay. [crosstalk 00:18:31]

Lewis: I started a new company in December. That’s how much I love it. I love being my own boss.

Paul: Really?

Lewis: Yeah. Once you’re your own boss, so you don’t have to have people in the way of things. So when doing this iOS app frame, one of the problems is in a business, if you’re not the owner of the business, you don’t have absolute control.

Lewis: So other people inject themselves into processes so then you have to go ask them for permission like they’re a parent, and when you ask them for permission, sometimes they say no to things that will then block the work that they need- [crosstalk 00:19:08]

Marcus: And you have to explain it or yeah, random- [crosstalk 00:19:11]

Lewis: Well yeah. It’s not [crosstalk 00:19:12] If I’m in a good mood, I’ll explain it. If I’m in a bad mood, I just kind of go over there and say, “Get this shit out of way.”

Marcus: I love it. [crosstalk 00:19:22] You get so ahead of them.

Paul: Lewis, I would not want to be your boss for all the money in the world.

Lewis: Why not? [crosstalk 00:19:31]

Marcus: [crosstalk 00:19:33] I would not want to be your boss.

Paul: No, exactly. [crosstalk 00:19:36] No, no. That’s perfectly valid.[crosstalk 00:19:38]

Lewis: At the end of the day Paul it’s about getting stuff done, and making people money, like what my role is primarily about that. Occasionally I’ll get to cool things. So like we did a JavaScript lists, photo upload. I was really happy to work on that. Occasionally we get to work on things that are really good for users, but nothing’s perfect at work and no one seems to want to make it that way.

Paul: But you see, I think a lot of the time it’s down to we need to get better at explaining why something that is good for the user is also good for the business. I think most of us are pretty bad at doing that because.

Paul: A lot of times I’ll see people go, “Oh, you shouldn’t do that because it’s bad for the user,” but nobody actually cares about the user from a business perspective. You’ve got to go, “What if you screw the user over here, it’s going to come back and bite you in these ways.”

Lewis: I mean we do that quite a lot of work. But it’s making someone believe it. So sometimes you’ll have stakeholders that essentially they have a different life. So quite a lot of the time our biggest problem is that some of the people that are researched by people outside of our department, they’re not the people that are buying the products.

Lewis: So then we’re told this investor that runs a Fortune 500 company thinks this. I don’t care what he thinks, because there’s less than 1000 of them. And if our volume is sales, there’s a thousand people to sell to. So you either sell to him at a high rate, or you have to go and listen to people that have real lives that aren’t terribly privileged.

Paul: Yeah, you are absolutely right. And that’s why I do quite like doing… Even if I have to do it on my own dime and my own time, that’s why I do quite like doing little videos of users swearing and getting annoyed and frustrated at an interface, because that’s so much more compelling.

Paul: You can say to your blue in the face that, “Oh this would be bad. It’s going to annoy people.” But when they can see people getting frustrated and angry, it tends to help. But even though it’s not easy to do, is it?

Lewis: You can cut it off before that. You can do a walking skeleton. So you can build something that is just a HTML prototype that people get through and you can, without very much cost, without sort of angering people that feel like they’ve got better things to do.

Lewis: You can test out an idea in front of people, do your videos like you’re doing, and then you can come back and say, “Well, actually that idea was a little bit too in house. We didn’t go out to enough people. We didn’t put it in front of the right people.” And you can get right really fast doing that.

Paul: Yeah you can.

Lewis: The whole star mantra is based on that, but if you don’t have that mindset, if you want to build something Apple quality, every aeration. I mean that’s what I’m fine.

Paul: Yeah. And that is true. A lot of people, they do expect a kind of fidelity. They expect high fidelity very early. And I was talking to somebody else about that or perhaps it was you, perhaps you were talking about it in the chat room. This idea that it’s going to be shit to begin with and that’s all right. You can do it- [crosstalk 00:22:55]

Marcus: Some people get it and others don’t. I still present wire frames where people say, “I don’t like the gray.” It’s like… I mean you’ve given the full spiel about what this is for and it’s about quick iteration and that kind of thing. But I just think some people are really good at visualizing stuff and other people are not. And you have to early on, especially if it’s your client that you’re working with.

Marcus: And going back to the point though about investors wanting, or expecting to have some kind of input that happens in every field, and charities is a classic example. People have to kind of go to the equivalent of the board to… I think what they’re called. The equivalent of a board for a charity. Anyway, you have to kind of… If you want to spend any money-

Paul: Trustees.

Marcus: Trustees, thank you. Quite often you’ll get feedback from the trustees along the lines of, “Yes, we will allow you to spend this money as long as you do X, Y, and Z in the website, whatever it is you’re building.” And it’s like, “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, that’s not your job here.” And it happens all the time. Anyway, that’s my little aside.

Paul: That said- [crosstalk 00:24:10]

Lewis: The thing is, as a business owner, so when I was a business owner, I would just say, “No.” I’d say, “You can’t have everything you want. If you want this to be a commercial success. If what you want is this to be your little tour, we’ll take it off to one side, then you can pay for a tour.”

Lewis: And most people upon hearing that as blunt as it can be, they then understand the process. But the more layers you have between you and that person, the more difficult it is to convince them.

Paul: That’s the key. It’s that layer that you end up with, isn’t it? That you get this kind of… If you can’t get the person, you can’t help them, you can’t persuade them. Which is one of the reasons why I really hate things like invitations to tender, where you have to go through a procurement department and you can’t ask why.

Paul: I just won’t do that anymore, because if you cannot speak to the actual decision maker, you’re wasting your time. You really are. Well that was cherry. Thanks to Lewis for coming on- [crosstalk 00:25:11]

Lewis: Bye everyone.

Marcus: I used to type. It’s excellent. This is so good.

Paul: Lewis, you are exactly as I expected you to be. I have to say. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but you are everything that I expected, so thank you very much. There we go. That was brilliant.

Paul: I love Lewis. Lewis is the voice of utter cynicism in the room. Hey, look who’s just popped into the room. Oh Michelle. Michelle, I’ve been waiting for a week to get you on. I hope you’re willing to come on and have a nice chat.

Marcus: Well, how could she turn you down now?

Paul: She can’t basically. I’m already clicking on her name to get her in, right, because… So if you didn’t listen to last week’s show Michelle came on and we were talking about all kinds of things, and then she dropped this little bombshell about that she wants to be a zero waste UX designer, because she works for a renewable energy company.

Paul: And which in itself was a really interesting topic and I want to get into that with her in a moment. But in addition to that, when we then went back into the Slack Channel after the show, she made an outrageous claim, didn’t you Michelle? Do you want to repeat the outrage claim that you made that none of us would believe.

Michelle: It’s true. So I only put out three bags of rubbish last year.

Paul: Last year. This is not possible. Okay, now we discussed how this might be possible, right? Option number one was the bags are enormous. [crosstalk 00:27:04] The kind of massive hippo type bags. Are we right in that? Is that right? No?

Michelle: Regular size kind of [inaudible 00:27:16] bags.

Paul: Regular size kind of… Option number two is that you have an incinerator in your back garden.

Marcus: Slash jar in a hole, or is that option three?

Paul: Yeah three was that you back garden is a landfill, right?

Michelle: No, no, no. Actually not. No.

Marcus: How do you do that?

Paul: [crosstalk 00:27:35] in all seriousness, how are you doing that? I mean, I presume you’re putting out recycling and everything else, but there’s a lot of recycling people won’t take.

Michelle: So yeah, recycling is a difficult issue because we all do it, but unfortunately it’s quite flawed in that it really depends on your local authority and your council around what they actually then do with that waste. Unfortunately, in the past, a lot of it, the last few years has been exported to China and Malaysia and other countries for processing or burning or worse.

Michelle: China have actually refused in the last year to take on any more rubbish. So the best thing you can do quite honestly is to consume less. And that’s a really difficult message in this society. The best thing you can do is think carefully about what you’re buying and thinking about where you fit in your local area, what food is available and what products are available and weaning yourself off certain web-based shops that have lots of everything.

Paul: So when I was on the show before Christmas going, people can have anything they want as a Christmas gift from me, as long as it’s available from Amazon. That probably didn’t go down very well with you, I’m guessing.

Michelle: No, I mean, I have to be honest. We all have used Amazon. It’s so convenient, so useful. It’s been a go-to for many people who are buying things, but it’s really… The last year has really given me a lot of thought and kind of where I spend my money and how I spend my time, and I think it’s really useful to… Someone once put it as a way of every pound you spend is a vote for the sort of world that you want. I’m not really comfortable with many of my pounds going towards Amazon- [crosstalk 00:29:29]

Paul: Yeah, I get that.

Marcus: Paul and I discussed this on Friday, because it was like, “Wow, how does she do that?” But even old dinosaurs like Paul and myself, even we have changed our attitude in the last year and really noticing it. For example my phone is now two and a half years old and I have absolutely no intention of replacing it.

Marcus: And my laptop similarly. I’m not in this kind of endless wheel of, “I must have the latest thing. I must have the latest thing.” I’m perfectly- [crosstalk 00:30:02] I’ve got, and it’s like why? Why has that attitude changed? And I think it is that the kind of recycling and don’t consume. Think about what you’re consuming is getting through. So you [crosstalk 00:30:20] three bags thing is still amazing.

Paul: Do you know, it almost reminds me of, and again this day task, but do you remember when suddenly drink driving became an unacceptable thing to do?

Marcus: Yes.

Paul: Which was… And that felt like a sudden tipping point that suddenly society shifted and you feel like a similar thing is happening now that this last year has been a real shift in quite a profound way. But just interestingly, Paul has popped in a question, which I think is a good one, because obviously in order to only have three bags a year, you’re having to consume differently. You’re having to use less packaging. Has that had an impact on your living costs? Is it more expensive, or is it cheaper to live the way you do? Do you think?

Michelle: So this is a really interesting question. I rarely really… I’ve always been green. I’ve always been thinking about living minimally and it’s just every year I’ve thought of more and more things, become aware of more things. So this is all a learning process and I’m not claiming to be an expert- [crosstalk 00:31:32]

Paul: No. No. No. We’re just interested, because- [crosstalk 00:31:35]

Michelle: Oh yeah. No, absolutely. No, it’s great. So for me personally, I would say actually works out cheaper. And the reason is I’m buying less stuff. I’m just not being… I’m not going out and buying fast fashion anymore. I’m not buying any electronics. I’m thinking carefully about what I bring into my home. And then when you do buy, you’re thinking, okay, you might be paying more for the products that you do, but you’re saving yourself money in the longer term. That makes sense.

Michelle: So if I had to go and buy an umbrella now, I’d probably go and buy a really good quality one that isn’t going to like fall apart in the first strong British winter that we got here. So yeah, for me it’s one type cheaper girl. I’m buying from secondhand shops, I’m buying less. And when I do buy things like food, I’m buying generally without packaging and sometimes the loose shops where it’s packaging free can be more expensive.

Michelle: But lots of shops are kind of waking up to this now and giving you options for fruit and budge, and pulses and that sort of thing in different options. And I’m a bit older than I appear, but I remember when my mom used to go shopping and you’d go out and you’d buy your rice and your beans or you’d buy it loose, the scoops in the containers.

Michelle: This whole idea that we can wrap it, ship it in plastic and send it out there, it is really very new. We’ve just kind of forgotten that way of living really. I’m hopefully we can go back to it.

Paul: Paul thinks he’s found a loophole mine. I like this one. He wants to know whether or not you buy stuff in the shop and then abandon the packaging in the shop itself. So it’s-

Michelle: No.

Paul: … their recycle problem. No, no. Okay.

Michelle: No. So it’s really [crosstalk 00:33:37]. I’m not perfect by any means, and I-

Paul: No I doubt- [crosstalk 00:33:42]

Michelle: I’m very much planned to get that down this year, because it’s a journey changing this way, trying to reduce my waste that you create. It’s going to take me a long time until I’ve exhausted all the things that I have that will create waste. There are some things that unfortunately I won’t just dispose, because I’ve kind of gotten a bit of a storage box of things that I think will be recyclable soon.

Michelle: I don’t want to just get rid of, because I think [crosstalk 00:34:11] will come on. But no, it’s really about owning your rubbish, owning your waste and not just thinking, “Put it in the bin.” It’s kind of out of sight, out of mind. That’s no longer my problem, when actually we need to be mindful about what happens, so that’s the next. And I was talking in the Slack Channel last year… Not last, last week.

Michelle: It’s been a busy three weeks- [crosstalk 00:34:37] The thing that really tipped it for me was when I heard the quote that everything that you’ve ever used is still out in the planet somewhere. And when you think about it like that, every toothbrush everything you’ve ever put in the bin is still sat somewhere. And that’s really powerful.

Paul: That’s quite-

Marcus: It’s very, very scary thinking of how many billions of us there are. (singing)

Paul: Okay. Really what I want to move on to in particular is this idea of being a zero waste Uxer, but I really need to do a sponsor first. So forgive me for interrupting. Are you all right? Hang on just a second one. That was disgraceful. Honestly. Just totally unacceptable. So the first sponsor I want to talk about today is Express VPN, right?

Paul: So we all know what a VPN is that protects your privacy and your security online. But until relatively recently, they weren’t particularly necessarily very good with things like streaming TV. They tended to often be a little bit slower than your normal kind of connection but not so with express VPN that really are now focusing very much on that idea of you being able to watch TV wherever you are in the world, and to be able to watch what you want when you want.

Paul: So recently, for example, I was across in Europe just when the new season of Doctor Who started. And I wanted to watch it because I couldn’t because I wasn’t in the UK and so the BBC iPlayer caused me issues. So I connected to my Express VPN account and I was able to stream Doctor Who. To be honest, I wish I hadn’t bothered current season bit rubbish in my opinion. But anyway, that’s beside the point.

Paul: So Express VPN does that by hiding your IP address So that you can be located basically wherever you want. You can choose from a hundred different countries although why you would need all of those countries is quite beyond me. But it’s good for testing websites and things like that. You can use it with pretty much any streaming service, Hulu, BPC iPlayer, YouTube, you name it.

Paul: Now the reason that I use Express VPN particularly is because it’s ridiculously fast, right? So you very rarely get any kind of buffering or lag and you can stream HD no problem. Which obviously if we’re talking about TV is a really important thing. Also it’s available on all your devices, your phones, your media consoles, your TV, smart TVs, the law.

Paul: And if you visit my special link of, you’ll get an extra three months of Express VPN for free so you can support the show, watch what you want and protect yourself using Now you talked about zero waste as a UX designer.

Paul: Now my mind immediately went to Post-it Notes, because I know how terrible I am with my use of Post-it Notes, but I’m sure there must be more to it than that. What did you mean when you talked about that that was your kind of aim for the year?

Michelle: So last year I was thinking about myself as an individual in our household and what we do, and our impact on the world. And then I thought, “Well, I kind of have to think about my working life as well.” Really to make it complete. So I’m the lead at a UX team within good energy a green energy company.

Michelle: It just kind of seemed like a natural thing to do really. I’ve not really had any encouragement, or you have to do this. It’s just sort of, I know it’s something I’ve started and there’s lots of things to it really, but yeah, firstly I guess it’s reducing paper waste, and Post-it Notes in particular that…

Michelle: Yeah, it’s a kind of a mainstay as you notice. Yeah. And there’s lots of conflicting advice online around what you can do, and whether or not you can recycle them. I’ve researched it quite a bit. And I would probably say that they are not recyclable. [crosstalk 00:39:13]

Paul: Oh really? Oh damn. I don’t want to know that.

Michelle: Yeah. So what I’d probably say I mean, we have them, we will have them. I guess it’s getting the most use out of it that you can. So making maybe more than one point on each note will be good, splitting in half, and in case of larger notes-

Marcus: [crosstalk 00:39:34] I use giant ones. Oh, no.

Paul: Have you heard oF these guys, right? Myndflo, they’re called, right. So, and M-Y-N-D Right. And they’re Post-it Notes, but they’re shiny right. Which means that you could use a pen on them that one of these whiteboard pens and wipe them off afterwards.

Michelle: That’s fantastic.

Paul: And they’re reusable because they’re static. So they… That didn’t- [crosstalk 00:40:11] They will stick to most-

Michelle: That’s great.

Paul: The most thing… [crosstalk 00:40:19] Because they’re static, actually they’re better than normal Post-it Notes, because normal Post-it Notes fall off of stuff, don’t they?

Michelle: Yeah.

Paul: So they-

Michelle: Oh, fantastic. I’ll have to look this up.

Paul: Yeah. I’ll put a link in a short notice.

Marcus: Yeah. Well go ahead. The fact that plastic coated will almost certainly mean they’re not recyclable.

Michelle: Yeah. The main problem is actually the glue. A lot of the notes, depending on where you source them, which ones you buy, some of them will be, but you probably need to snip off the glue, bit, because that…

Michelle: It depends, again, it goes back to kind of, your local authority. So you’re putting those in a recycling bin. Then when does it then go into what process it going to yeah, obviously these. I’m just kind of-

Paul: This?

Michelle: Yeah. Obviously this, where we don’t- [crosstalk 00:41:06]

Paul: We don’t have clue.

Michelle: But for kind of other regular kind of sticky ones or super sticky ones? Yeah, generally it’s the glue, but that’s going to cause a problem. So maybe if you were to then snip up it off, and if they recycle the paper, but at least, that’s a little bit better. But I’ve actually moved mostly to digital documentation though.

Michelle: So using digital white boarding tools like Mural and I’ve forgot some of the other names, the equivalent, again most people have workshops, there and they’ve all got laptops or devices for kind of sharing and creating things in that way rather than on paper.

Michelle: It’s worked surprisingly well. It’s difficult, because some people do prefer that kind of paper thing, and I do have them when I need it, but I just try to use them as something other than the middle and rather than the norm. So I want to look for those notes, although now I’m in a dilemma, because I don’t want to buy them online, and I’m likely to shop secondhand. So think about that.

Paul: And what- [crosstalk 00:42:06] Yeah. Go on Marcus sorry.

Marcus: I’m just going to say, is there not a middle ground here where we can still use pens on whiteboards and things like that without worrying about post stuff like that?

Michelle: Yeah, sure. I mean these are just some ideas. It’s not to say do or don’t. It’s all about the energy and the resources you use to create those products at the end of the day. Everything that we use has an innate amount of energy, enough that is gone into producing it. So there is a certain argument for if you’ve already gotten as new possession to continue using it until this year.

Michelle: But then think about where that, say that whiteboard pen goes at the end of its life. There’s a really good company called TerraCycle who’s looking at… They basically extend what can be recycled. Everything is ultimately recyclable in some way with a few big caveats, but it’s basically not done because it’s not financially viable for companies to recycle a lot of things.

Michelle: So things like… TerraCycle will take things like pens and whiteboard pens and that sort of thing, and then use them to create other products from it. So it’s not… It’s still better to personal use those items, or buying them to begin with, but if you have to, there are ways. There may be ways for you locally to get them recycled again and get them in a better place than in landfill.

Paul: Have you looked at all at like the energy side of things? So for example, with the different SAS applications, are you using your web hosting all of those kinds of things. They all have an environmental impact, huge amounts of energies, isn’t it? [crosstalk 00:44:00] This huge these days.

Michelle: I mean I really don’t.

Paul: So you’re doing anything around that yet? Or is it, I mean, it sounds like you’re on the early days of this, so- [crosstalk 00:44:08]

Michelle: I do know the prevalence of where our tech is hosted and how it’s powered, which is happily all green. I haven’t done anything formal to kind of like audit that or anything. So this is just like my own checks.

Michelle: But yeah, I work from home a lot, so I obviously make sure that I have green energy supply here as well. But yeah, you’re right. It’s not a simple kind of find and replace. Kind of replacing paper would take. There’s difficulties no matter what you choose to do- [crosstalk 00:44:44]

Paul: I read some-

Michelle: So I guess it’s just.

Paul: I’ve read some ridiculous statistic once that even if we all just changed our new tab in our browser to be dark instead of white. It would save some enormous amount of energy globally. It’s the scale of it that kind of a bit mind blowing. Hey, did you see Lowell. Lowell has posted in the chat? Very cool. Very cool. Micro-waivable notebook, right?

Marcus: Reusable basically.

Michelle: Fantastic.

Paul: But you think the energy that’s used to microwave it-[crosstalk 00:45:23] I still try to listen it. It’s so confusing. You’ve got all these different things you’re constantly setting off against one another, trying to work out what the right way to go is. It’s difficult.

Marcus: Nicola asks something, which I don’t know what it is. Anyone used small whiteboard squares? I was considering- [crosstalk 00:45:45]

Michelle: What squares?

Marcus: No one knows what a small white board square is? I’m sure you’ll have to tell us.

Paul: It sounds like it’s almost like a flip chart size or a… Yes, a four kind of whiteboard sort of thing.

Marcus: Okay. I’ll get the link.

Paul: Cool. Okay.

Michelle: Yeah. Interesting what happens.

Paul: Yeah. So it’s a fascinating area. People are posting loads of questions. Let’s have another, note just Chris posting nothing. Chris, what have you been doing? You just punch these half a dozen nothings in the- [crosstalk 00:46:24]

Marcus: Look at me. Look at me. Look at me. That’s what it is.

Paul: Paul wants to know Marcus, whether you offset your carbon emissions as an agency, do you? Do you Marcus? Do you?

Marcus: No, but we do promote homeworking for example, we try not to fly. We try to encourage people to use public transport to the cars whenever possible, but we have to kind of be… We’ve got American clients so I can’t take the ship because we wouldn’t have a business if I did.

Paul: You should swim Marcus. You should swim Marcus.

Marcus: Yeah, we think about it and probably think about it more as I started off saying on this section of the show today, it’s becoming something I’m a lot more aware of.

Michelle: That’s good.

Paul: Yeah. Which for old fogies like us, it’s quite remarkable really, because we grew up in that consumer generation. We were the ones slap bang… Because I look at cat’s parents that are older and they grew up in that postwar generation. So they have- [crosstalk 00:47:36] That make, do amend attitude. And then there’s this current generation that the…

Paul: My son’s generation that’s obviously environmentally aware, and it’s us old fogies in the middle that have grown up in that consumer society at its worst, really, which is… Yeah. So it’s all awful at the end of the day, that’s what I now concluded from this. I will immediately go out and, and shoot myself or something. I don’t know.

Michelle: No.

Marcus: You don’t have to shoot yourself Paul, you just have to give away all your stuff and-

Paul: Someday-

Marcus: … go live in a cave.

Paul: You gave away all your stuff then probably it’s just… Once you’ve got the stuff it’s too late, isn’t it really? It’s avoiding getting the stuff in the first place that sounds like the key. I can do that, although that’s… Michelle, are you a vegan or vegetarian or anything? Because that’s a big area in it all isn’t it as well?

Michelle: Yes. Yes. I am vegan. Yeah. I’ve been for quite a few years now. So yeah, I’m looking at everything I can really do.

Paul: Yeah. Because that was something we were talking about, wasn’t it? On Friday night when we were discussing Michelle’s remarkable lifestyle that I was saying that would be the one area that I really struggle with is, but- [crosstalk 00:48:59]

Marcus: I’m consuming a lot less meat. Yeah.

Michelle: That’s good.

Marcus: Lowell says, but bacon.

Michelle: So there’s really good meat free bacon’s now.

Marcus: Is there?

Michelle: I got the Sainsbury’s one, is rather good. I’ve yet to try it, but I hear from a colleague I trust.

Paul: There we go.

Michelle: One thing I did forget on the whole… On the kind of does it cost me more? It doesn’t cost me. Well what it does take is time. It doesn’t take a lot of extra time to kind of wait for the right thing to arrive at secondhand.

Michelle: Or to preplan the fact that I’m going to make lunch rather than buy say a sandwich on the go, because that’s got a plastic lined cardboard container with a plastic film. So it does take some time and I am time poor. It really has been difficult to fit all that in, but it is worth doing.

Paul: Yeah. I’ve totally, totally admire you Michelle. Thank you so much for coming on and talking about all that because I think that’s not to disparage Lewis and his moaning at the beginning of the show, because that was entertaining. But we have the main theme of the show for today is Environmental UX. I think it’s a fascinating subject. You need to write a book on it is what you need to do, Michelle.

Michelle: Yay. That’s- [crosstalk 00:50:32]

Marcus: Yeah, because you got so much- [crosstalk 00:50:39]

Paul: Yeah. So you get on with that Michelle, and we’ll talk to you when we come to that.

Michelle: Fantastic. Thanks- [crosstalk 00:50:44]

Paul: Thanks very much. Yeah and you. Bye.

Marcus: Bye Michelle.

Paul: Wow. I’ve got so much respect for people that do that and… Yeah, I’m getting there slowly, but I know in so many areas, I’m an early adopter, but I think I might be a bit of a laggard with this one and I’m ashamed of myself for that. But there you go. Excellent. Well, I thought that was brilliant. Let’s just quickly talk about our second sponsor talking about books.

Paul: Our second sponsor is AdSkills that has got a book for you that you can check out. If you’ve ever run Facebook ads, or if you’re involved in running pay-per-click advertising then you’ll know all about things like customer audiences and retargeting and stuff like that. Well, today our sponsor has written a book on seven retargeting recipes.

Paul: The founder of the company, Jason… Sorry, Justin Brooks wrote that and it’s an excellent book. If you want some kind of recipes for step-by-step ad campaigns that are proven to work and that you can run. If you haven’t heard of AdSkills yet, then you should check them out. They’ve got over 11,000 subscribers amazing page traffic training that they offer from an incredible lineup of different people.

Paul: So you can get hold of a copy of the book. For those of you who still love physical books, they’ve got a thousand physical copies that they’re giving away. Just go to and it’s right there at the top of the page. And yeah, there’s a small shipping fee for getting the book, but other than that you can go to and get a free copy and help you out with your pay-per-click and Facebook advertising. Right.

Marcus: Real books keeping…

Paul: Yeah, I know. It did go through my head as I was thinking about that, but some people really love real books. I’m don’t interestingly.

Marcus: I like a nice mixture. I mean, I read probably four out of five books. I will read them on `my Kindle, but the fifth one is someone’s lent me one or something like that and it’s a real treat every now and then. I mean they get heavy and awkward, but it’s just nice to touch them. So yeah.

Paul: Yes, there are some books that if it’s like a coffee table style book, something you dip in and out of, a physical copy is nice. But most of the time I’m kind of happy. I like electronic books because they’re searchable. Yeah. For me that… Especially with work related books, that’s invaluable that I can search it.

Paul: Paul Ebwoods is saying that, does this mean that I won’t be buying the iPhone 12 when it comes out? I have skipped the latest generation. I didn’t get the iPhone 11, I’m running an iPhone X. Will I be getting the iPhone 12 maybe, maybe. But in my defense when it comes to gadgets, I’ve never yet had to recycle one of my gadgets, because there’s always a hungry family member waiting to leap on whatever gadget that I’ve had.

Paul: So nobody else in my family ever buys gadgets. It’s just all my castoffs that work themselves way through the extended family. It’s so funny. There you go. And actually I end up having to upgrade, because they pressured me that just as Lewis said, right? So my mother, was really irritated that I didn’t buy the last iPhone, which I thought was very rude of her really, but there you go.

Paul: Yeah and Michelle don’t… You are brilliant. If you want to carry on and ask Michelle more questions about how to do it, because it’s obviously a really popular subject and a lot of people… A lot of us know that we should be doing more but aren’t quite sure how to start.

Paul: I’m sure Michelle will be more than happy to answer your questions in the Slack Channel. So just join us if you’re not already in there at I feel like it’s probably time to start wrapping up. That felt like a good kind of endish point kind of thing. What do you think Marcus?

Marcus: I think you’re absolutely right. I know we’ve had three people for the first two shows, but we’ve got another load of shows to do and if we… It’s a great expectation probably to try and get three people per week, and also Michelle went on and on and on-

Paul: I was just going to-

Marcus: … and she talked for ages.

Paul: She was brilliant. She was pretty… Don’t be mean to her. I was going to talk about some apps that I really love, but I’ll talk about them next week instead. I think we’ve gone on long enough. Marcus, do you have a joke for us?

Marcus: I do. As I said, I haven’t been able to keep up the whoever who was on the show, I’ll do their joke. So this is Bob from Daryl Snow. Yesterday I went to see an acupuncturist. When I got home, my voodoo doll was dead. That’s pretty good in it. Come on.

Paul: No. That’s a good one. I’ll give you that one, Marcus. And I thought the delivery was half decent as well. So there we go. I’m just loving this season. It’s the most fun I’ve had for a long time on the Boagworld Show. It’s lovely just to, to chat with people and I loved the informal most of it, and I hope that those of you that aren’t getting to see it live, I hope you’re really enjoying it as well.

Paul: It’d be lovely to hear what you think about it. Drop me an email to, because I don’t just want it to be great for the people in the room. I want it to be great for you that are commuting, or in the gym, or wherever other people listen to this. But yeah, drop me an email. I would love to hear your feedback, but other than that, I think we’ll call it a day for this episode. No Marcus- [crosstalk 00:56:53] he looks like he wants to say something.

Marcus: What would be cool is towards the end of the series, I suspect, because obviously the 30 days and… There’s a gap between us recording them in the bank going out. If we can… If people who’ve never been part of these live recording sessions feel inspired to come and join us, do let us know as, as you join. That would be very- [crosstalk 00:57:16]

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. If it’s your first time in then definitely say hello in the chat. And seriously, if you want to come on, just say in the chat room, “I’d love to come on the mic and say something.” But equally, if you don’t want to, don’t worry that if you come to the room, we’re going to jump on you, because we’ll really not.

Paul: It’s completely optional and I know we’ve been teasing a few people trying to hassle them into coming on, but that’s only people we know really well and that are long time listeners and have been involved a lot in the Slack Channel.

Paul: So don’t worry, we’re not going to pick on you if you’re a newbie. Right. I think that about wraps it up. So thank you very much for joining us this week. Thank you everybody. That’s come along, and we look forward to talk to you again next week. Bye-bye. (singing)