Claire Buckley is a freelance environmental consultant, with 16 years experience helping organisations develop and implement projects, plans and actions to make a positive environmental difference. All recommendations are her own. You can reach here on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter: @eire_claire
After 15 years working as an employee I set myself up as a freelance consultant last year. My work involves helping organisations to reduce their environmental impacts. So working from home with the kitchen table as my desk, I was faced with the question of what I could do to make sure my sole trader business was green too. Quite a bit as it turns out
1: My business card
After some research, I chose A Local Printer as they provide a combination of strong environmental credentials, value for money and a quick and easy on-line service. Their products are printed on either Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper or 100% recycled paper.
For printing, they’ve eliminated the use of cleaning solvents (which create ozone and health damaging emissions) and use vegetable inks instead of mineral oil based inks. They have a system in place – certified to ISO 14001 – to manage and reduce their environmental impacts, including reducing and avoiding chemicals, reducing and recycling waste and reducing energy use.
I was really pleased when I got my first batch of cards, to see how great they looked and the little statement on the bottom “printed on 100% recycled uncoated card using environmentally-friendly printing”.
2: Office supplies
For printing, I use recycled paper and either print double-sided or on the clean side of old documents.
I buy recycled print cartridges. They’re cheaper than originals but still provide the same level of print quality. You buy on-line and send your empties back via free-post so it’s hassle-free.
For office supplies I use the Green Stationery Company, a small UK company which provides only green products, or my local Oxfam Shop.
3: Green web hosting
I don’t yet have a website, but when I do I will be using a web-hosting service powered by renewable energy such as that provided by Green Webhosting.
There are a lot of green hosting services these days. My priority will be to choose a company that is UK-based, has on-site renewable to power its data centres (as opposed to buying green energy from the grid) and has good green practice overall.
Being based in London, it’s easy for me to use public transport or cycle. For travel in the UK, I use the train and always book the quiet coach, a great place to get lots of work done!
For the European work I do, sometimes Skype is just not enough. So when I do have to fly, I use alternative carbon off-setting offered by two great organisations I’ve had the pleasure to work with Sandbag and The Converging World.
5: Work space
I’m working on getting my not-so-energy-efficient Victorian flat better insulated and less draughty. If you’re working from home, there are lots of things you can do. From draught-proofing to energy-saving bulbs, sites like Nigel’s Eco-store offer a good range of solutions. You can organise a home energy audit or ask your energy supplier what they can do for you.
Of course there’s little point in having the greenest home office in the world, if your products contain toxic chemicals, illegally felled endangered wood etc. The most important things you can do is to think about your business, your products/services and what impacts they have.
As a designer, think about the materials you use and what you can do to source them responsibly. Think about how your customers use and dispose of your products. Find out what environmental concerns they may have and let them know what you are doing to be a greener business. After all, (and apologies in advance for the terrible paraphrasing) don’t just ask not what you can do to be greener, but also what being greener can do for you and your business.
How are you working towards a greener business? Share your comments here: