This Saturday April 22nd, we’ll be celebrating Earth Day. As a technology consultancy, it’s not always obvious how we can make a difference when it comes to sustainability. But every business has a responsibility to consider their environmental impact, so we’ve got some tips on how a tech company can add sustainability to their agenda.
This one sounds almost painfully obvious, but having hard copy sheets of paper, stacks of old notebooks and even paper train tickets all adds up. At Nebula, we encourage digital first. Many of our staff are remote, but in the office, we have a clear desk policy and promote shared digital note-taking, through Google Docs and Slack. Collaborative note-taking tools like Google Calendar’s meeting notes and Teams notes make this a win both from an environmental and a collaboration point of view.
Work travel is in the press a lot of the moment as different organisations adopt different “return to office” policies. Aside from the productivity angle, this also has an environmental impact. With the majority of our team working remotely, our impact from travel is already fairly low. But when it comes to team and company meetings, keeping travel sustainable is high on our agenda. By allowing staff to be flexible with when they travel and by managing travel bookings centrally, we can prioritise public transport, use digital bookings and tickets and opt for the most sustainable modes of transport.
Our company staff map helps us to co-ordinate car shares where needed and really helps us to travel more mindfully. For example, when train strikes forced us to use cars for our Christmas party, we coordinated car shares for almost all staff and some very fun road trips were had!
Cut that swag
We all love a good branded gift – be that a mug, phone charger or plushie. But giving away extra “stuff” can have a huge environmental impact. In the Salesforce space, some swag items are highly prized and sought after, but even they have recognised this impact, opting for a much reduced offering at last year’s Dreamforce event. At Nebula, we always evaluate how useful something will be before ordering any branded items and make sure that we pick our suppliers carefully, favouring local and environmentally-conscious manufacturers. Our 10th anniversary hoodies were supplied by I Dress Myself, an eco-focused company based in the West Country of the UK.
Meat-free Mondays, and Tuesdays, and Wednes….
Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But you can make sure your food doesn’t cost the earth. Opting for more meat-free and plant-based options in your catering helps to reduce environmental impact and also inspires staff to make more sustainable choices at home. At Nebula, we always offer as many plant-based options as we can for shared meals and encourage our teams to keep this in mind when ordering at events. It’s easy to make small changes that add up, even down to which coffee and tea you choose for the office kitchen. We love Grind coffee pods in our London office, which are compostable and organic.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Although most of what tech companies do is online, we still need “stuff” to do our jobs. Employees need laptops, phones, headphones, keyboards, monitors, chairs and so on, whether that’s in the office or at home. So how can you make sure you’re not creating a large environmental footprint when supplying your new starters with essential kit? Firstly, consider what your staff really need to do their job and ask them what they already have. If someone already has a great home-working set up and would rather use their own monitor or custom mouse, don’t buy a new one just because it’s on the list!
Next, reuse what you already have. There are great services out there for reconditioning used devices, such as laptops and phones. When an employee leaves, hold on to their devices and get them in tip-top condition for the next member of staff who needs them. Reusing these items rather than buying new has a huge impact on your sustainability.
And finally, recycle. Devices and kit do run out eventually. Some can still be reconditioned and passed on to some great charities to supply to local communities, schools and colleges. We’ve previously donated used laptops to an amazing local charity in South London. And for things really at the end of their life, make sure you have a way to get them recycled, ideally locally to minimise the environmental impact.
So there we have it: a few ways for tech companies to consider how they can operate more sustainably and mindfully. It’s easy to think it’s “not my problem” and other people will take action, but the responsibility is with all of us and we can all make a real difference.