Why this is the future of the way we all do business
Surveys in several countries indicate an emerging trend: about one third of consumers now consider the environmental, social or ethical behaviour of companies before buying from them. You've only got to look at the headlines generated over Cadbury's use of palm oil or Nestlé's infant formula to see that it is becoming a key factor in many people's purchasing decision.
The latest NZ-wide research reveals 26 out of every 100 organisations are actively buying from firms which behave sustainably – and if price and other factors are equal, this statistic could be as high as 54% according to the NZ Business Council of Sustainable Development.
At the same time 28 in every 100 firms have actually sacked suppliers in the past year because of concerns over those behaviours.Source: ShapeNZ national survey 2931 New Zealanders, September 2009. Maximum margin of error +/- 1.8%.
What is sustainability?
According to the Ministry for the Environment their definition of sustainability is: "Meeting the needs of today, without adversely impacting on the needs of tomorrow.”
We consider it simply as "thinking before doing" which, as a creative agency is what we’re used to anyway. We ask ourselves questions like Do we really need that? Can we educate our client to show a greener way to achieve the same results? Does the client really need that? What will happen to it when it has served its purpose? Can the by-product be sold/repurposed?
How we got interested in the issue
Our focus on sustainability stems from our involvement in the Manaakitanga Awards. The awards celebrated excellence and sustainability in the hospitality and tourism industry. Through two consecutive years of delivery for this project we began to look at things differently and question our own choices and behaviour as a business.
Since 2009 we've moved towards a greener way of working. We know we're not the perfect sustainable business, however we think we've made a good start.
How we are being sustainable
These are the steps we've taken so far toward running an environmentally sustainable business.
1. Turn it off at the switch
All our computers, monitors, printers, routers and other peripherals are shut down and turned off at the switch every night. The only thing that stays on is the answering machine, and that’s just at weekends. During business hours we use a call redirect service if we're out of the office.
We have two bins in our office one for recycling and the other for waste. It's pretty easy, we all do this at home anyway.
3. Efficient temperature control
Our office has 2 heat pumps. Heat pumps are 100% efficient and thanks to our kind landlord they are serviced and cleaned regularly. Thanks Ian!
4. Installed a splitter switch for our office lights
All the lights in our office used to be controlled by a single switch. This meant lights were on in areas of the office that weren't being used. After getting a friendly electrician to sort this out (it didn't even take 30mins) we can now turn those off, using only the lights we need.
5. Resuable coffee cups for each staff member
Two of our team are coffee junkies so we got them both a keep cup. A cup you keep and give to your barista to fill when heading to the coffee shop.
6. Limit paper presentations
Whenever possible we present to clients using a laptop and transport files on a memory stick.
7. FSC certified paper for our client’s print jobs
The paper we do use is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which guarantees the stock is from sustainably managed forests. We recommend FSC certified paper to all our clients for their print jobs.
8. Extend the life of existing office paper
We print on both sides and use old printouts for note taking and sketching. Our office paper stock is also FSC certified.
9. Skype meetings instead of car journeys
At the start of business relationships we do meet clients face-to-face but as the relationship develops harnessing technology for video meetings makes sense. Less travel, less time, less petrol, less pollution.
10. Use real plates, crockery, cutlery
Well, who likes that plastic bendy stuff anyway?
11. Use Dropbox
Dropbox is a great application which does away with the need for our clients to travel to us to drop in CDs, DVDs containing large files, in fact it eliminates the need to burn a disc at all. They upload the files, we downloaded them – minimal consumption of resources.
- Recycle print cartridges
- Issue invoices via email
- Sell old hardware on TradeMe rather than dispose of it
Things we need to work on
We consider our move towards greater sustainability a work in progress, there’s always things on the list. Here’s ours:
- Florescent tube lighting replacement
- Car sharing
- Green Hosting