Being environmentally friendly doesn’t just apply to automakers. We all should be aware of how our companies (or ourselves as freelancers) are effecting the environment around us. The actions we take today not only effect the world that we live in but will continue to shape the world that our future generations will experience as well. Just because as designers we are not directly effecting the environment to the extent of companies such as automakers and industrial manufactures doesn’t mean that we are exempt from all responsibility.
We actually have the capability to be very proactive in keeping our companies and work green.
If you are not convinced you could always consider the marketing benefits. Both businesses and consumers continue to respect and choose companies that are green and environmentally friendly. Additionally it positions your company as aware, caring and proactive. Even if you are choosing to be green for marketing reasons it still benefits us all and that is fine with me.
So the question is, how can we go green?
Simply hosting a website uses a fair amount of energy. The server must be on all the time and can use a significant amount of energy if the sites hosted require a lot of processing power. There are several companies that offer “Green Hosting” where energy for the servers is generated through renewable sources such as wind or solar, or alternatively balanced out through the purchase of carbon offsets. For example I have long been a fan of Dreamhost which has green hosting solutions.
Of course there is no reason you can’t purchase carbon offsets for yourself. Even if you are not covering 100% of your carbon footprint you are at least working towards solving the problem. Carbon offsets are described as “Instead of reducing their own emissions, a polluter can receive credit for supporting a project that either reduces emissions abroad or reduces emissions in an industry domestically that is not mandated to reduce emissions.” So rather than ditching your car for transportation you could purchase carbon offsets to balance out the pollution it creates.
This is not as applicable if you are strictly designing for the web, but if you do print work there are several options for environmentally friendly printing. You can opt to print onto recycled paper or use soy based inks. Both of these will reduce the amount of waste that is created through your printed work.
The design industry is extremely technology centric, which means the purchase and upgrading of equipment on a regular basis. I am willing to be that there are plenty of times where you have found yourself in a situation where you have equipment that simply doesn’t seem worth having around. Maybe it is too old to sell and you really don’t know who you could give it too. Maybe it doesn’t work anymore. Sure you could throw it away, but putting those types of components and materials into a landfill is extremely bad for the environment.
Rather than throwing them out, please take the time into finding a good electronics recycling company to help you get rid of your equipment.
Use of Energy
One of the easiest and best things you could do would to simply be aware of the energy that you are using and do what you can to reduce it. This means turning off your computer when it is not in use, turning down the brightness on your screens, not leaving lights on, biking to work (or using public transportation), etc…
It is amazing how much energy can be saved by being aware and proactive about reducing your usage.
It Is Easy and Worth While
It really isn’t hard to make your business a little greener and you are contributing to the future of our world. Do you have any other ideas or methods for making your design business green? Please post them in the comments!