The creative community can play a hugely important role in combating climate change. We have a unique ability to wake the population from inertia. Rally the troops. Inspire bold solutions. Stand up to deniers. Provoke policy change. After all, if we’re such good problem-solvers, shouldn’t we be applying our collective talent to biggest challenge of our generation?
None of us can see the future, unless we’re looking at climate change.
Do nothing and we’re seemingly doomed. Stand up and we can hopefully change the course of history.
Our actions can be big and small. Everyday and monumental. Taken by us all.
We can also look inward at our own business practices. It’s far less sexy but every bit as impactful. That’s why we’ve rounded up 20 ways your business or agency can help the fight against climate change. We’re not suggesting you do them all, but every positive action can make a difference. Are you ready to help make sustainability happen?
New ways of working
Legendary environmentalist and founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, would famously let his people go surfing to catch a good daytime swell. If you’re blessed with a sunny day, you too should consider giving your staff permission to opt for the outdoors. Many companies are now embracing free range working days and sprucing up the grounds of their offices to accommodate the trend. Open air meeting rooms, al fresco working desks, high-speed WiFi coverage and even chairs with bike pedals are becoming more common sights. In addition to relieving the energy drain of indoor office environments it has productivity benefits too: “Research shows that spending time outside makes us more productive, more creative, and happier,” L.L. Bean said on their website. Who are we to argue!
Change your font.
While left field and seemingly insignificant, the reality is that a slimmer font can reduce your toner ink use by 46.5%. How? Hit ‘print’ and EcoFont automatically converts the letters into an ink-friendly version. The two fonts look identical to the naked eye but are markedly better for the environment. It even works with your existing printer. Combine EcoFont with double-sided printing and you’ll be a green printing hero. Or go one better and go paper-free altogether!
Be there, in spirit.
It’s well known that an airline’s biggest competitive threat isn’t another mode of transport but virtual meetings. ‘Telepresence’ replaces face-to-face contact with the next best thing, allowing people to work and meet with one another without the need to jump on a plane. It’s revolutionising the way doctors and patents interact, how colleagues collaborate, and how teachers teach.
Paid volunteering hours.
For maximum impact, Corporate Social Responsibility needs to be an ethos, not a department. By implementing a formal volunteering program aligned to preserving the environment on company time, you will be leading by example when it comes to encouraging employees to make a difference in their local area and beyond. As a nice side-benefit, it’ll also boost employee morale and act as a beacon for top talent to your business or agency.
Ethical company retreats.
Your people work hard, and a company retreat has long been viewed as the perfect way to reward their commitment and to team-build for the future. However, most corporate retreats flock to the same destinations, contributing to overtourism and the degeneration of fragile environments. A new breed of agent such as Airbnb’s new Office of Healthy Tourism, can support you to take more inclusive and sustainable alternatives that economically empower communities, support lesser-known locations and allow environmentally-friendly travel habits to spread. Take the path less travelled.
Climate change is a man-made problem and the evidence for awakening female superpowers to fight it is overwhelming. Playing your part in female empowerment will increase your company’s ability to dream up diverse technical and sociological solutions to your clients’ challenges as well as humanity’s capacity to do the same for the planet.
A sustainable future harnesses the knowledge, skills and leadership skills of women in climate action. Progress of any kind is impossible if we continue to hold back 51% of the population so do what you can to make your workplace more equal and support organisations that promote female empowerment on the ground and around the world.
Eco search engines.
Fundraise for your favourite charity as you search the web. Set everyclick.com as the default search engine of your office computers, pick the UK environmental charity you want to fundraise for and the rest is taken care of. To date, Everyclick has raised almost £10,000,000 for good causes, all by diverting advertising revenue away from Google and Bing.
Pre-loved tech made new
Back Market: reusing perfectly good tech
People think tech is clean? Far from it. Everyone thinks of the environmental impact that goes into manufacturing office tech. Smoke beaming from factories. But there’s also a grave human impact, as many of the natural resources are extracted from conflict zones and perpetuate armed conflict and human rights abuses. Plus the 74 million tons of e-waste produced annually. It’s a recipe that re-use startup Back Market is remixing, putting perfectly good electronics back into offices and helping them last longer. A joyful alternative to buying new.
Smarter office design
Buildings account for 40% of the total energy use in Europe and for about 36% of its total CO2 emissions. Making more sustainable choices with your fit-outs, furniture and organic matter can go a long way…
Open source furniture.
Opendesk combines stunning free-to-download furniture designs with a network of local manufacturers to make it for you. The on-demand service cuts out the need for an Opendesk factory, warehouse and showroom and reduces the environmental impact of transport and logistics. What’s more their materials come from sustainable, FSC-certified sources. As a radical alternative to traditional furniture suppliers, Opendesk has kitted out hundreds of inspiring workplaces around the world faster, more cost-effectively and locally than ever before.
Furniture made from plastic.
Plastic Whale Circular Furniture is high-end office furniture that is made from Amsterdam Canal Plastic. Yes, you read that right. With a debut collection that covers a boardroom table, chairs, lamps and acoustic wall panels, plastic waste has never looked so good. The company takes tourists and school children on its fleet of ten design boats made from Amsterdam Canal Plastic to fish for bottles and anything else they can find. To date, 146,000 bottles have been fished and turned into circular furniture.
Put your tap on the map.
Over 12,000 businesses are keeping Britain hydrated and cutting down on plastic pollution. How? By offering their tap as a free refill location for thirsty passers-by. Simply download the free Refill app, find a participating tap and net planet karma points and a 13p donation towards Refill’s future projects courtesy of their corporate partners. Sign up your tap as a Refill Station and start a mini-movement in your local area today.
The war on standby power rumbles on. This enormous drain on energy takes place overnight and at weekends when electrical items are not in use but left on “standby”, accounting for up to 50% of energy use in commercial buildings. An energy saving plug is an easy fix: simply turn off your computer, photocopier or similar and everything attached (printer, screen, lamp and speakers) switch off too. Costing £8-£9 per plug, it’s an investment that will pay for itself many times over. Or you could take more drastic measures and make your offices desks disappear completely when the clock strikes 5pm.
Retrofit and reuse.
Almost all of the attention given to green buildings is in new offices, however by energy conservation retrofitting the remaining 99% of commercial property we can breathe new life into them. Doing so reduces their operation costs and environmental impact, increases their value, extends their lifespan, and contributes to more comfortable and productive environments. Whilst undertaking improvements many landlords are also installing smart meters and management tools to track and optimise energy, water and temperature levels, and improve employee distribution throughout the building at various points of the day.
The stress-busting, fatigue-fighting, productivity-boosting benefits of plants in the workplace is well documented. They also clean the air around us, removing chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air, making it cleaner for humans to breathe. Palms, Chinese evergreen, Marginata and peace lilies are amongst the best working. Many workplaces are also utilising forgotten facades, installing green walls and roofs, rooftop solar panels and even bee hives. These gardens in the sky function as living insulation for the building in question and pay-it-forward ecosystems for the surrounding area.
Bathe in natural light.
Given that we human beings spend between 80% and 90% of our lives indoors and we universally feel better, more positive and energised in daylight, it makes sense to allow more natural light into the workplace. If possible desks should be within 25 feet of external windows and regular breaks outdoors should be encouraged. Daylighting has obvious benefits for energy efficiency too, as it is estimated that 30-50% of the energy cost in office buildings is spent on lighting.
Be a cycle-friendly employer.
As an employer you are set to benefit more than anybody from a healthy workforce and a more liveable city. Play your part with interest-free bicycle loans, secure bike parking, on-site showers, bike-share programs and by campaigning for improved cycling infrastructure in your local area.
Sustainable supply chains
Broader catering options.
You can often tell how much an agency cares about its employees by the quality of the food it orders for meetings. When you consider emissions can be reduced by 60- 70 percent by adopting a or vegetarian diet, making it easier for your staff to adopt a plant-rich diet can go a long way. It only takes a few calls to swap the old fare for more organic and sustainable food options.
Green web hosting.
Green procurement can go beyond the physical goods and services you buy. The cost of switching to environmentally friendly web hosting is negligible yet it can make a real difference. Since their launch in 2008, GreenGeeks has put back three times the power they consume into the grid in the form of renewable energy.
Switch to good energy.
In 2017, renewable fuel sources produced 29.4% of the UK’s electricity and it’s never been easier to ditch fossil fuels. Renewable energy suppliers such as Green Energy UK source green electricity from the wind, sun and the sea, and green gas from plant matter.
“When the wind of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills.”
The greatest gift you can give the planet is to lead by example and inspire others to take steps to combat climate change. As an agency, you’re in a unique position to advise your clients and to have your opinion respected. Exert your influence. Encourage your staff and customers to track their progress on an individual level too, with dashboard.earth and they’re every action will be rewarded with a new climate currency.