After different years of contributions on FOSS software I would like to contribute in some way to the sustainable living, doing something for Earth and in some way for the mankind.

Are there projects that I can help with my knowledge? I would like people somehow recover its human touch, live together without making the technology a barrier (as it seems to be happening more and more) and remember to be part of nature.

I don't really know if this is the right place to ask this, but I think that this question can't be on stackoverflow.

  • 2
    I'm not making this an answer because I guess you already thought about buying energy efficient hardware and turning it off when not in use.
    – user2451
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 17:49
  • 3
    There probably are some BOINC projects you can run, but that applies to any user, not just developers.
    – user2451
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 17:51
  • 1
    It sounds to me like you have completed all the learning parts of sustainability and now would like to get your hands dirty? I wish you were local or even in the same country because I come from the opposite end, doing all the hands on work trying to be self sustainable. It is not such a big thing in South Africa, any learning actually! Africans come from a background of someone always looking after you. I have property that I would love to teach sustainability on and am slowly achieving my goal. Good luck with whatever path you choose because it is an honorable direction.
    – Mike
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 7:31

5 Answers 5



The low-carbon sector employees a lot of software developers. For example, wind farm operators use SCADA systems to provide data on performance and to inform proactive maintenance regimes; and wind-farm developers use modelling software to design the optimum layout of the windfarms.

If you want to dedicate your career to it, and you don't have success at first when applying to such posts, then I'd recommend a 1-year Masters' course in one of the environmental subjects that most interests you, as a way to make your CV more attractive to employers in the sector. For example, University College London has several Masters that might interest you (disclosure: I have a little involvement with these), such as the MSC in Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment and the MRes in Energy Demand; Imperial College (also in London) has an MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures, and the well-established and well-respected MSc in Environmental Technology. And the Danish Technical University offers MScs (in English) in Wind Energy and Sustainable Energy, among other sustainable topics.

Voluntary, with possible routes into professional.

There are various open-source environmental projects. One I'm a little involved with is the OpenMod Initiative, which is building an international network of open-source clean-energy modellers - here's a list of some live open-source energy models, including one of my own (NB they do cover quite a broad definition of "open").

  • +1 A postgraduate research degree sounds like a good option. If the OP can't commit to full-time study in the UK, there are also distance learning programmes (e.g. MSc in Environmental Management at the Open University). For this particular course the fees are quite hefty though (up to £370 per month for a duration of 3 years), so this would probably only make sense if you have a well-paying job and still some spare time to study!
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 12:18

Making a difference with your web searches

I'm a software developer myself, and one thing I do very often is use search engines. One small thing we can do for the environment is do searches with Ecosia, an organisation that donates 80% of surplus income to tree planting projects. There are add-ons for Firefox and Chrome to make it the default search engine.

If you're interested in learning more about the project, their Facebook page publishes occasional updates.


There is quite a lot of software that is in one way or another helping the environment. To give you an idea here are some categories:

  • Environmental management systems to keep track of and analyze the environmental performance of a company.
  • Life-cycle assessment software to investigate how exactly a product impacts the environment and what more environmentally friendly components or alternatives are.
  • Routing optimization software to reduce the use of fossil fuels by a company's delivery trucks.
  • Teleconferencing/telepresence systems to reduce travel.
  • Energy management software for various applications; from improving energy efficiency at home to building smart grids that enable more efficient distribution of electricity (from renewable sources).
  • Footprint calculators to show people their own environmental footprint and educate them how to bring this down (see also , or ).
  • Online community platforms to

If you search online you'll find various companies that offer proprietary software like this and perhaps there's a company near you where you can apply.

If you'd rather do something besides your current job, in some of the categories mentioned above there are open-source alternatives. Here are some examples I know of:

  • openLCA, open-source software package for life-cycle analysis
  • OpenEnergyMonitor, open-source energy monitoring tool
  • Open Foris, a set of free open-source software tools for environmental data collection, monitoring, analysis and reporting.
  • The Humanitarian FOSS project, a community-building website with a collection of (academic) open-source projects.

If you look around in your area, there are probably all kinds of environmental grassroots initiatives that would love your help and guidance for setting up or developing a website for their cause.


Develop for old hardware

You could develop for old hardware or in general develop software that enables durable hardware. For example some developers provide slick Linux distributions like WattOS, others develop specialized tools that free up space on your Android phone (eg Audio cleanup, Ccleaner, etc) such that older hardware may serve longer. I think this could really have some environmental impact, as production of new hardware is rather costly from an environmental point of view.

  • 2
    Any developer can try to make his software require less resources. It applies to every piece of software, whether it's mobile app, webpage, server process or a library. Commented May 3, 2020 at 11:43

There are many different things you can do to get active for your environment. Imho developers are even more important, as they create software that will consume energy at the design, development and later a lot more if it is getting used from many others. But next to this you can also change something on your behavior when you work, while using other services. You can even have a little environmental influence if you start looking at the food you eat and try to look at better nutrition ( in case you are one of these devs that don't like to cook and love pizza ).

  • Buy and use Hardware that will last for longer time. Think about the future and better pay a little more but use it for some more years
  • Don't buy every new technology. The apple watch f. e. wasn't a real hit and it would be more a toy then a helper ( at the beginning )
  • Watch your behavior on the internet. Don't make unnecessary searches ( visit websites instead of googling them )
  • Try to use renewable sources for energy. Are you a web developer, search for provider that host with green electricity.
  • If you are doing software, try to avoid spots that can end in loops and won't finish. Try to make your software work as it should. The less bugs you will have included, the less you will need to debug problems later, the less recourses you will need to do the debugging. And think about the people using the tools, everybody that is waiting to do his job but can't, is wasting his time, energy to run the periphery and other stuff. If you look at smartphone users, they are just a small part, but if they start using apps that are recourse intensive, the phones batterie might last only for hours and the loading process needs to be done more often.
  • If you are working with a server try to avoid unnecessary requests to servers. The more requests you have the more has to be executed on your server. And having many requests can also break down your whole applications like a DDOS.
  • Every developer is a normal human being, it doesn't mean, you are just working on your code. This is mostly a job, you should be aware about your nutrition as it is one of the things that are important to live. And this is something that many devs do not really focus on. At least it is getting more and more but I know many coders that are too lazy to cook. But there are so many tasty meals that you can do within a short time. Try to get active and watch what you eat, try to cook with your stuff together if it is possible at your working place. And don't think you can't influence something on this field, every person is one person doing more, and at the same time one person less influencing something bad.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.