One of my new year resolutions was to be more ethically active. To simply do more good. To at least try to make the world a better place.
So this year I’ve started composting, switched to environmentally friendly household products, joined political and campaign groups, attended protests, volunteered, switched my energy supplier to Good Energy plus continue to follow a vegan diet and give money to charities every month.
I also walk pretty much everywhere and use public transport. That’s just because I dislike driving though.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I hold “left wing” political views. The left is often accused of being anti business. So it occurred to me that as a business owner and young entrepreneur I can demonstrate that the left wing ideals of fairness, social justice and environmental protection can co-exist with business and innovation.
A little bit about my business:
I’ve been freelancing since 2010 and business growth has improved with each year. In 2011 I quit my job to go full time freelance. In 2012 I set up my company and began hiring other local creatives for projects. Business turnover and profits have improved each year. In 2015 I’m developing the business in a more ethical direction.
People have often asked if I plan to expand my business as often I’m in the fortunate position where I have to turn down or postpone work offers because I’m working at capacity. I did not set up this business to make as much profit as possible. It’s because I love drawing and telling stories. Of course the money is nice and but nobody pursues a creative career to be a millionaire. So there are no plans for business expansion. I want to remain focused and getting my hands dirty with the creative stuff rather than adopting a managerial role.
Good Design Design for Good:
Since my University studies I’ve held an interest in designing for good and communicating messages for good causes. My favourite animation projects as a student were Design Against Fur and Recycle. As a business I’ve worked with some amazing organisations:
- Peak District National Park
- Bedford River Valley Park
- Clearview Med Ltd’s animation for treatment of children with a lazy eye
- Littergram – An app that aims to stop people littering in the UK
- WANIFRA – An organisation for press freedom and journalists rights
- Nottingham Healthwatch – An organisation that helps people feedback on their local authorities health and social care provisions
- Choice Support – A charity that helps disabled people live independently
- The Charity Bank – Ethical banking that invests in social enterprises, renewable energy and charities
- Give a Car – A social enterprise
- The National Union of Students – A series of animations about faith and campus cohesion so people of all beliefs can get along at University
- The University of Derby Student’s Union
- The University of Derby’s Environmental Services department
- The University of Derby’s Student Wellbeing Service
- A children’s book for a pony sanctuary on the Isle of Wight
- “Don’t be that someone” A don’t drink and drive campaign
As well as working for good causes, I’ve also declined jobs that conflict with my personal and business ethics (specifically the treatment of animals). I am aware of the very fortunate position I’m in where I can decline work but I did not need those projects to survive as a business. I firmly believe that if all businesses placed ethical values before profits, then the world would be a happier place.
As that internet meme legend, Ghandi, said
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
I fear this blog may be coming off as arrogant, preachy and self congratulatory. I apologise if it seems that way, it’s not my intention. The reason I try to do all these things is out of a massive sense of guilt and worry. I am in a fortunate position where all my basic needs are met, I have a job I love, freedom, leisure and lovely people in my life. I’m content. So I feel a sense of duty and responsibility within my abilities to care for other humans, animals and our environment. By sharing my aims I hope others who feel similarly will be inspired to act.
This scene from the TV series Fargo sums it up.
“Only a fool thinks he can solve the world’s problems.”
“Yeah but you gotta try don’t ya?”
There is much more I can do as a person and as a business. Such as reducing my virtual carbon footprint. I learned about this recently but according to this article …
“Surfing the Web uses a significant amount of electricity. The world’s data centers — cavernous buildings filled with stacks and stacks of servers filled amount of juice. The data centers around the world use about 30 billion watts of electricity, roughly equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants, Data centers in the United States account for one-quarter to one-third of that total.
The PCs, iMacs, laptops, tablets and such used to surf the Web also demand electricity.
All together, Internet use is responsible for about 1 percent of CO2 emissions released from burning fossil fuels…”
I spend pretty much all day on a computer. It’s essential to my job. It’s going to be a challenge to tackle this but “You gotta try don’t ya?”
So to help improve my business ethics and lessen my environmental impact, I working towards the Investor’s in the Environment Green accreditation. The IIE will help me measure my current environmental impact and set targets to reduce it. They will later conduct an audit on my business to ensure I’ve met those targets. The whole process will take about a year.
I’ve started the process by writing a business environmental policy. Over the next few months I’ll be blogging updates on my business progress to the IIE Green Award.
Thanks for reading, if you have any comments or ideas on how to be greener and more ethical, I’d love to hear.