Chapter 04 - Reaching critical mass

Chapter 04

Reaching critical mass 

To overcome the gap between digital advancements and sustainability, we need to better understand the obstacles in taking sustainable action. Danes are disillusioned when it comes to understanding digital technology and struggle to identify how to take sustainable action regarding individual digital consumption. Consequently, initiatives with potential to reach critical mass are vital to changing the status quo. The vast majority of Danes (more than 80%) currently have low motivation to take more sustainable digital action. The obvious solution is to amplify awareness. However, it is also apparent that knowledge about the negative effects of digitalization is not enough to change people’s behavior. Consequently, one of the most important keys to enhancing digital sustainable action is to make the sustainable choice the easiest and fastest consumer choice – which makes private companies’ policies and products crucial to ensuring sustainable digital behavior, our democratic values, mental well-being, and energy efficiency.

To better our understanding of consumers, we have divided the Danes into four different segments to illustrate their digital knowledge, readiness, and motivation to act.

29% of the population say they consider sustainable impacts when downloading new apps. In comparison, 79% say they consider sustainable impacts when they buy groceries.


  • Accessibility and ease of use remains the single most important consideration when downloading or using apps.

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  • Quality remains the most important consideration when buying new electronic devices.

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  • Price is the most important factor when choosing a streaming service.

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The four segments of Digital Consumers

  • The Uninformed Majority (53%)

    53% of the population have very limited knowledge about digital technologies, and they are not ready to change their behavior or actions. Their knowledge about sustainability issues connected to digital technology is also very limited. They understand sustainability as something related to climate and environment, but they have no motivation to take digital sustainability action, and they have never decided to remove an app they found to be problematic. They represent mainstream Danes, those who vote for traditional and moderate parties and care mostly about accessibility in their consumption. Of all Danes, they are the least tech optimistic.

  • The Unmotivated Fifth (18%)

    Almost 1 in 5 Danes (18%) have no motivation to act, though they are aware of the sustainability issues connected to digital technologies. This group knows almost nothing about digital technologies but have a good understanding of the relevant problems. For them, price and quality are the main motivators, and they make few green choices in their overall decision-making. The group consists of mostly men, and they tend to favour right-wing politics.

  • The Informed Observers (10%)

    These Danes have a solid knowledge of digital technologies and associated sustainability issues, but show no motivation to take digital action. When it comes to their overall motivation for sustainable actions, which they understand as related to the climate, they are moderately engaged. This group constitutes 10% of the population and primarily consists of young men with a higher-than-average income in larger cities. They are aware of the need for integrating sustainability into digital technologies, but they feel it’s someone else’s responsibility. Interestingly, they also believe no one is taking enough action.

  • The Motivated Fifth (19%)

    One fifth of the Danish population (19%) are motivated to take digital sustainability action. Just like the Unmotivated Fifth and the Uninformed Majority, they know almost nothing about digital technologies, but contrary to the other groups, are willing to act. They wish to address overall sustainability issues which they know to include social, economic, and environmental aspects. This group consists of people leaning towards the political left who live in larger cities, care about organic products, health and well-being, and socially responsible consumption. They are aware of the sustainability issues connected to digital technology, and they would like to see more regulation of big tech companies.



Changing the World of Personal Data

The polypoly cooperative helps individuals reclaim control of their own data, creating the foundation for a new, sustainable, social, and economically independent European data economy.

While digitalisation is among the largest drivers of growth, it also comes with significant costs: in B2C, businesses and organizations often find they’re involuntarily reducing valued customers to objects of data exploitation. The data centres installed to handle the processing of data are responsible for huge quantities of the world's energy consumption, resulting in enormous carbon footprints. In addition, the data economy is vastly inefficient: high IT operating costs, high compliance costs and - due to even stricter privacy regulation - an inability to truly utilise rich and updated customer profiles.

This is what polypoly is set to change. With the polyPod super-app, polypoly aims to empower citizens and help them regain economic agency, re-fuel the data driven economy, and create an environmentally sustainable digital future.

The polyPod will allow customers to offer assistance in maintaining CRM systems and administering consents. It will enable citizens to manage their health data and contribute to scientific research. It will permit everybody to run analyses for companies and organizations on their own devices, sharing only algorithms and results, not data. In the process, the polyPod lets users make money from contributing to the data economy – if they so choose.

As a cooperative, polypoly is owned and controlled - one member, one vote - by European citizens. This not only allows for citizens to pool resources and produce needed technology, but also helps protect the platform from abuse. This is much like what Danish farmers did when they formed the first cooperative dairy in 1882, thus revolutionising the dairy industry. The difference is that milk and butter have been replaced with personal data.

Navigating towards a new digital paradigmThe digital value compass

We have identified a set of nine values needed for developing a truly sustainable digital society. These values constitute a value compass, which companies, organizations, politicians, and citizens can use to navigate towards a more sustainable digital future.