Why digital businesses need to do their bit for the environment

Good environmental credentials can no longer be seen as just a ‘‘nice to have’’ by technology firms but must instead become business vital practice, according to a graphic designer who is bringing together speakers on the topic of sustainability at Leeds Digital Festival.

Monday, 20th April 2020, 11:45 am
Will Saunders will be hosting a Leeds Digital Festival event on April 27.

Will Saunders runs ethical design studio, Good Will Studios, in Leeds and has also launched the Sustainable Agencies initiative.

Mr Saunders believes that digital businesses that don’t have policies in place to help tackle climate change will struggle to attract clients, investors and talent in the future.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “The workforce of the future, the next generation will be far more environmentally conscious and ethically minded.

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“They will be basing their employment decisions on ethics of the business far more than having beanbags and pizza Fridays.

“Sustainable business practice really is a vital thing now.”

Mr Saunders has been working in design for the past 12 years. Over the last few years he has been looking to find “a bit more meaning” in his work.

He cares deeply about ethical living and sustainability and hopes to play a role in encouraging other digital businesses to align with those values.

“I thought I can make an even bigger impact by trying to not just design for good but to try and redesign the design industry,” Mr Saunders said.

“I’ve been in the digital design world for most of my working life. I thought I could make a change from within.”

To do this he launched the Sustainable Agencies initiative, which empowers those within the industry to live and work more sustainably.

Mr Saunders said: “We do that in a number of ways. We’ve got one-to-one workshops where we review the agency itself.

“I’ve put together a sustainability scorecard, which helps them to rank and measure where they are on the journey. I’m hoping that this will become an industry standard framework, which we can work to as digital agencies so we all know where we sit.

“The more important aspect of this is to get us really talking about what our role is as digital professionals in a world where there is climate change and we are in a state of climate emergency. We can’t carry on as if it’s business as usual.”

While many digital agencies may feel that they are progressive when it comes to the environment, owing to them being paper-free, there are other ways the industry can leave a carbon footprint that it needs to be aware of.

“For example the average email sent equates to roughly four grams of carbon emissions,” Mr Saunders said. “Imagine that multiplied millions of times in our industry.”

There are also standard business practices such as meetings that require overseas travel, which contribute to the industry’s carbon footprint.

Mr Saunders will be hosting the ‘‘Can Digital Agencies Save The Planet? How To Tackle The Climate Emergency’’ event on April 27.

He said that nearly 100 people had already signed up to the event.

It is free to tune into. Tickets can be reserved at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/can-digital-agencies-save-the-planet-how-to-tackle-the-climate-emergency-tickets-97959211639

Two bites of the cherry

Leeds Digital Festival is returning for its fifth year this week, in a virtual format with online events running until May 1.

Organisers of the Leeds Digital Festival took the decision to split this year’s event following the coronavirus outbreak.

Physical events will take place between September 21 and October 2.

Will Saunders decided to go ahead with an online event, starting 3pm on April 27, rather than postponing as he feels it would have more of an impact due to the disruption.

“We’ll face even more disruption if the full effects of climate change happen,” he said.