By focusing on sustainability as a core value of our business, we hope to do what we can to not only minimise our impact on the environment but support others in doing the same. There are three key threads to our sustainability policy:
Look at what we currently do to assess what our impact is and identify areas where we need to reconsider our approach.
Once we have identified an issue or area for improvement, take action to address this.
Pass on our knowledge to others to help ensure they are aware how they can also make a difference
Any individual or business can always find ways to improve its sustainable practices. From considering purchases through to looking at external suppliers, we are trying to ensure that every decision we make is a conscious one that takes the environment into account. So how do we do this?
- We don’t take anything for granted – any area of our business is open for review. It is important not to be fixed in working a certain way and we encourage open discussion amongst the team on how we work and how we think we could change this
- Setting objectives – targets and deadlines inspire action as they create something to work towards. We want to set meaningful objectives that aren’t just arbitrary. Whether it is working with specifically clients who have goals that match our own, or giving back to our community in a way that helps the local environment, we are in the process of establishing specific outcomes we want to deliver.
- Create policies – we don’t believe we need a policy for everything, but having a policy or rules in place helps to guide behaviour and set a certain standard to be met. We plan to constantly review this sustainability policy to ensure it is fit for purpose and achieving its aim
- Direct action – while we are a digital agency and most of what we do is virtual, we do want to provide time or space for our team to actually contribute a positive physical contribution to the environment.
Here are some of the areas that we have reviewed within our business and taken action to improve:
- Hybrid working – allowing our team to work at home as well as in the office helps to avoid unnecessary travel. We do believe that working physically in the same space for a proportion of the working week allows us to be more creative and also provides an important social aspect to work, but we also believe that it isn’t needed Monday to Friday. We recently made the switch from Zoom to Whereby for virtual calls, as we believe Whereby is more aligned with our approach to sustainability.
- Minimise physical purchases – where possible we buy second-hand or refurbished items. If we do need to buy something that is new, we ensure it is high quality to ensure it lasts. We are trying to reduce our reliance on certain global online shopping sites and will shop around to find alternatives that still meet our business requirements in terms of delivery times. As part of this, we are creating a list of preferred retailers.
- Reduce printing – we avoid printing unnecessarily and have an ecotank printer where we do need to print documents. We also reuse printed items for scrap and then shred it, which feeds into:
- Composting – members of our team are keen gardeners so items that get added to the compost bin will soon be growing delicious vegetables! We also bulk buy food and drink in the office for the team, to cut down on shopping trips and packaging. Where possible, we use local refill shops for specific items such as coffee.
- Banking – we moved from HSBC to Starling partly due to Starling’s environmental policy. They are branchless, digital and mostly paperless and have a clear commitment to the environment that sets them apart from traditional or larger banks.
- Environmental partner – we made a decision not to invest or partner with an organisation that offers carbon offsetting by simply planting trees. Instead, we chose a local rewilding project to work with, becoming a Guardian to help support them in taking a more natural and less data-focused approach. By doing so, we can’t claim to have offset xkg of carbon. However, we can say that we are helping skylarks by preserving long grasses for them to nest in; we are working to reintroduce local native species of trees to the local landscape; and we are also supporting the habitats of important wildlife such as water voles. Once a year we will visit the project to see in person how we are helping and lend a hand with some physical tasks.
- 1% For The Planet membership – in October 2022 we joined 1% For The Planet and have been working with Seaful, who are also one of our clients, to provide financial and website support. We are continuing to look for other partners through this membership, with the aim of providing our skills and expertise for free.
We’ve been talking about sustainable websites with our clients for a few years now and have realised that instead of waiting for organisations to come to us with a brief that includes sustainability, we have to also pitch it to them.
There are ways to create more sustainable websites and often these go hand-in-hand with creating great websites. For example, having a clear navigation can reduce the number of pages that a user bounces around on before finding what they are looking for. Clearly, a business will want a user to find the content they are searching for quickly too. However, there are more niche ways in which a website can be sustainable and it is these that we know we need to communicate more widely on.
Every proposal we offer to a client now covers sustainability, whether they ask for it or not. We try to set it out from the start and use it as a way to influence decisions about how a website is designed and built.
While we would love to work with more businesses and organisations focused on the environment, we think it is equally important to work with those that don’t have this as a priority. If we can help these clients to produce a sustainable website, then we feel like we have achieved a greater result because this may have not otherwise been the outcome.
Finally, we are in the process of producing our own products. It is important to us that these are sustainable too, so the service we offer our customers and clients can in turn help them to be more sustainable as a business. Our team has started an exciting new project that is focused on sustainability and aims to provide other businesses with data and information that could help them to reduce their own environmental impact. We will be writing about this more in the coming months but for now, we are keeping this a bit more to ourselves while it is under development!
In the interest of sharing more around sustainability and looking at how improvements can be made to make a difference, take a look below at an infographic we have created to try and demonstrate just some of the ways in which a website can be sustainable.