Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Promoting Awareness of Digital Pollution

Research & Design Ray Glasheen
Programme Certificate in Design Thinking
Supervisor Dr. Hilary Kenna
Project Goal To increase awareness of the negative impact that excessive data consumption has on the environment and develop more sustainable 'digital-life' habits for the future.
We are consuming new technology at a rapid rate, with short-life consumables adding to the digital wasteland. Furthermore, we are generating low-quality data by abundance on a daily basis.

Project Description

The aim of this research project was to identify a problem and create a solution, through the application of the Design Thinking process. The problem focused on digital pollution, and the goal was to find an innovative way to help raise awareness, among 18 to 34-year olds, of its negative impact on our environment. Ten goals were established. Of these, the most important goals were to;

  • Inform & Inspire 
  • Be Trustworthy 
  • Tie-in to the collective spirit
  • Provide short-term attainable goals
  • Develop long-term behavioural change 

Several brainstorms later, an idea formed to create an interactive game or challenge that would engage the target audience on an individual level, but also encourage collective participation.  


The 2ºDay Challenge is a short-term game that encourages participants to complete a 24-hour challenge containing twelve mini-tasks. Each task engages and informs the user with information that focuses on a particular way that digital pollution affects the environment, and how we can alleviate that affect through better practices. Presented in a fun and informative fashion, some of these tasks include;

  • Green Search: Download a green search engine that offsets carbon with every search. 
  • Download Time: Download your favourite playlist/album/movie as it creates less emissions than streaming.
  • SD is Good for Me: Switch your Video Streaming platforms to SD format as it generates less than HD format. 

To access the challenge, participants are encouraged to download an accompanying app, that is designed for short-term use only. While creating an app to address this problem may seem counter-productive, it was felt dismissing digital as a vehicle was not a long-term solution either. The app allows the user to set a timer, and then access each task on their phone. Each task-screen provides key information from a trusted source and presents the challenge that must be engaged. Once the task is finished, the user can mark it ‘complete’ and move onto the next challenge. The final task #12, encourages participants to nominate another challenger from their contacts.   

The name 2ºDay Challenge reinforces our obligation to take instant action in addressing our climate crisis, while also taking some inspiration from the temperature threshold set by the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. As a final note to the experience, and to support some of the learnings of the challenge, it is suggested that the user should always delete the app when the challenge is complete. A high-fidelity prototype was created of the 2ºDay Challenge brand and app. This included a visual identity, a series of promotional taglines, a design for the app (showcasing several of the screens), and a ten page information guide that outlines the main points of the challenge. 

Next Steps

The feedback gathered in the test and evaluate phase of the project, helped to roadmap future improvements to the 2ºDay Challenge. This was done to a level where it could have a viable real-world application. Some of these next steps in development involve, exploring the possibility of developing separate task sets or journeys for different age-groups. Reaching out to social media influencers who are interested in promoting sustainable living to become brand ambassadors. Developing a bus-shelter poster campaign to generate interest outside of the digital platform and creating a ‘digital wall’ webpage that encourages everyone who participated in the challenge to apply their name in support of awareness towards digital pollution.