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How green is squeaky green?

squeaky green logos

Who cares?

You may have noticed on our website that we claim to be “squeaky green“. This is something we are keen to live up to because we want to actively stand up for the planet and a better quality of life for all. It’s something we care about and we know a lot of our customers do too.

So we thought we’d have a look at how well we were doing. Hopefully this may be useful if you are looking for an ethical design company to work with, or looking for ways to improve your own ethical rating as a business. We encourage you to share ideas with us on how we can keep improving, and what the most important things are for a company’s ethical practices.

Some things we are doing:

  • We are based in a purposefully low-carbon building (Halton Mill) that runs on 100% renewable energy provided by solar panels on the roof, Halton Lune Hydro (water powered electricity from our local river, run by our local community), and a biomass heater fuelled by locally sourced woodchip. The building scores 23 for energy which scores it an A rating.
  • We carefully source our printing primarily from local businesses who use sustainable and/or recycled paper stocks and vegetable inks.
  • We are members of the Green Elephant Cooperative which promotes supporting and working with local cooperatives who use their profits for community benefit rather than bonuses for shareholders or executives.
  • We are a member of Lancaster Ethical Small Traders Association. Members agree to improve the way their business affects “environmental sustainability, community well-being and the development of everyone”.
  • We bank with The Co-operative. (We are keeping an eye on what Ethical Consumer are reporting on any changes following its reconstitution as a new entity with private shareholders, so far their advice is to stick with the Co-op.)
  • We have signed the Fair Tax pledge.
  • We support the Living Wage.
  • We recycle.
  • The tea and coffee supplied is ethically-sourced too!

Some things we are worried about:

  • We use Apple products and we know that Apple have scored badly on the Ethical Consumer ratings table  – but should we get rid of all our devices? And if so, how do we make that transition? Ethical Consumer advised us to gradually phase out Apple, and to donate items at their end of life to Computer Aid International (but not to replace them with HP products as they currently have an Israel boycott against them). Maybe you have made this transition and can let us know how it went?
  • Although we have a car, we regularly choose to travel to work by bicycle, but this is often determined by the weather! We definitely need more motivation for the upcoming cold, dark mornings and evenings when it’s so much easier to jump in the car.
  • Should we have a policy on the type of customers we work for? We don’t think that we have worked with a company that would have been restricted by a policy. But if there was an issue of concern do we refuse to work with a company? We doubt very much that we would ever work with any arms makers, factory farmers or tobacco manufacturers but where do we draw the line and how far up or down the supply chain do we go? If we had a policy we would need to know how to apply it.

So we aren’t perfect and we know it’s an ongoing effort but we are doing some of the things a company can do towards fair trade and sustainability.

Do you have any advice or comments that you think would help us achieve 100% squeak? Please leave a comment below or contact us. We’d be very happy to hear from you.

With thanks to our friends at Ethical Consumer Magazine.

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Comments 4

  1. Carly Jackson gave me the heads up in what you’re doing…

    I work in IT, & used to work with Community Technology, run by a very good friend of mine, Alan Buchel.

    http://www.communitytechnology.org.uk

    Take a look.

    I understand your plight as far as “Squeaky Green” technology goes.

    Essentially, Linux is the most ethical operating system to use.

    Debian is known as the ‘purist’ distribution, on which Ubuntu & Linux Mint (the easiest to configure & use) are based.

    (Apple uses their own tweaked version, OSX)

    And there’s a plethora of very good open-source software available to cover all needs.

    But to run on what hardware?

    Replacing equipment for ethical reasons isn’t REALLY the best/cleanest option…

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

    Yes, there’s ComputerAid, Comm-Tech & many others, but there’s diesel involved, packaging, & the ‘unnecessary’ replacement.

    So, replacing with new products is probably not the way.

    Yes, newer products may be more energy efficient, but how much energy went in to making them?

    Should we just buy that plane ticket as the plane is going to fly anyhow?

    Semi-conductor mining globally is, well, as ethical as mining is.

    Intel has it’s buildings in Israel located on stolen Palestinian land.

    Apple causes suicide through working for them.

    AMD CPUs, whilst not perfect, would be my preferred manufacturer to purchase from.

    We all pollute, just to what extent…

    Need to say more, but time & child are begging…

    /A

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Alex ,

      Thanks very much for your comment and helpful info! It’s certainly not an easy decision. The fact that all our Apple devices work together through iCloud is also a consideration. For example if we need to upgrade a phone before our computers need upgrading we’d need to consider how compatible a more ethical phone (e.g. Fairfone) would be with the Apple computers we were still using… It seems there are at least syncing issues. But possibly more hurdles to overcome with changing to android. In an ideal world Apple would decide to vastly improve their ethical rating.. but without pressure from customers buying elsewhere it’s probably not very likely!

      I’m not sure what we will do when the time comes, but it’s definitely helpful to gather all this information now in preparation.

      Thanks again,
      Sarah

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks for posting Jonny – interesting article!

      Good to have some figures on how ethical trading is good for business as well as good for the planet:

      “Mintel’s 2015 UK consumer report found that 76% of UK adults say that the ethical and sustainable credentials of their products and the reputation of companies or brands are important when making a buying decision.”

      I certainly think this is an area in which small businesses can do a lot better than big corporations, especially the tax-avoiding ones!

      Sarah

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