An honest account of our sustainability journey - A Digital Detox Diary

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An honest account of our sustainability journey - A Digital Detox Diary

We’re on a mission to become more sustainable. To respect our planet and all its wonders; to not just talk, but to do. Society, as you know, is more aware than ever of its failings when it comes to the environment, but also of its opportunity – its opportunity to change.

This series has one simple mission: to hold us accountable. To give a written trail, month over month, of what we’ve identified, changed, learnt, succeeded with, messed up, built, re-built, discussed and discovered when it comes to being more sustainable. You’ll likely spot some things we should have probably already changed, and some others that are pretty cool. But one thing we promise is honesty.

Becoming more sustainable is a journey. It’s acknowledging our privilege to be able to make such changes, our naivety in areas where we just didn’t realise our impact, and celebrating the bits where we’re actually really quite forward thinking, and proud of it, too.

We know we’re not perfect, but we’re here to learn. And we’d love for you to join us on this journey.

Starting a fresh year is always an interesting one; it’s full of hope, excitement and determination, but also slight dread – the fear of the unknown mixed with the pressure of all that could be.

But when it came to sustainability and kickstarting the Decade of Action, we knew we had to move fast. Here’s what we changed in Jan 2020:

The uglier the better

Beautifully misshapen fruit tastes better. Fact. Especially when you can predict our office will save at least 200kgs of delicious produce over the following year.

This might be a change you’ve already made at home – in fact, a number of our team have been Oddbox fans for some time – and so it made absolute sense to switch from plastic-laden supermarket offerings to a seasonal, surplus fruit alternative.

A small fruit and veg box per week, for an entire year, saves nearly 50,000 litres of water being used to grow produce that would otherwise be wasted. That’s the equivalent of 330 showers. So imagine the impact we’re hoping to see tally up by the time we reach December, for an office of nearly 30.

Our paper isn’t crisp white anymore

And we’re proud of it. This is probably one of those changes – that is moving to recycled paper for our office printers – that we should have already made. A change that once you’ve implemented it, it seems bloomin’ obvious and you wonder why it took so long.

But it’s when you look at the stats, you realise just how much impact a small shakeup can make. On average, paper can be recycled up to seven times. SEVEN. That’s a 47% energy saving by using the stuff! Mind blowing.

Sustainable coffee is on the menu

Coffee options are a given in any office environment, but it was towards the end of 2019 that we started to dig into the impact it can have on our environment.

That’s why we’ve switched – two ways: our compostable coffee pods are supplied by Brixton locals, Volcano Coffee, and our instant stuff is from the folk at Quokka Coffee, Quokka coffee (which, side note, look up a quokka as they are adorable).

Coffee pods can take over 500 years to break down when thrown in the bin. They will outlive you, five fold minimum. That’s a lot of years. And when it comes to the instant alternative, Quokka have helped us to reduce our carbon footprint and disposable plastic usage, replaced with a biodegradable and recyclable alternative which is ethically farmed and sourced.

No meat on the menu

Our Wednesday breakfasts are a pretty big part of our working week – with the toaster offering up bagels aplenty, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that we seem to have more visits from clients on this day than any!

And so that meant it was even more important to re-think what we were ordering, ditching the meat and fish for creative alternatives which have totally changed our view on what breakfast can be.

It’s not just food: welcoming our Sustainable Business Policy

It’s been just over a year that we’ve been part of PlanetMark, which has helped us to streamline many operational changes to better the planet. But we wanted to do more, which is why we’ve put together our own Sustainable Business Policy.

With a three pronged approach, we’ve pulled together a range of environmental, social and financial strategies to help us reduce our negative impact, and give something positive back to the world.

And as we said from the start – this is about accountability – so just so you know, one of our goals is to increase the proportion of our clients’ websites powered by renewable sources from 50% to 100% by 2026.

We’ll keep you updated.

But we’ve got lots to improve on

January was a time for us to focus on lots of the smaller, operational changes in how we run the office, whilst working on some pretty huge projects around sustainable development. But we promised honesty, which means this is also our chance to call ourselves out on some of those areas we still need to change, and some that we’re just not able to:

  • Much of our food deliveries still come from a supermarket, which inevitably means too much plastic
  • Avocado is a regular attendee at our Wednesday breakfasts, and is something we’re aware can have pretty negative impacts to the environment
  • We’re also big fans of berries for breakfast… currently all times of year
  • Our ability to understand which bin is for recycling, and which is for waste, has a lot of room for improvement
  • We have two members of our team who regularly travel between mainland Europe and the UK via plane. It’s unavoidable, but we’re aware.