ORCA's Sustainability Commitment
Climate Change is a fundamental issue in our lives today and one that's close to our hearts. Discover all about the carbon footprint we as members of the design industry are leaving on the planet and how we are implementing our sustainable commitment.
Posted on April 22nd, 2021 - By Hannah George, Vicki Lee & James Ewin
Climate Change is a fundamental issue in our lives today- it’s also one that is particularly close to our hearts here at ORCA. Since our inception, we’ve always tried to think ethically and sustainably through the way we work as a team and with our clients. We are all too aware of the effects an industry like ours can have on the planet; printing, waste disposal and an aspect not many people would initially think of; Digital.
When you hear the phrase ‘Green House Gas’ or ‘CO2’ in a business capacity, you’d probably automatically think of Transportation, Heavy Industry or Agriculture, but the truth is we’re all contributing to the profound changes that have been inflicted on our planet, even as we sit in our makeshift offices, from the comfort our own homes.
Let’s break it down a little.
As of 2019, the carbon footprint of our devices, the internet and the systems supporting them accounted for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. With the world being forced into lockdown over the last year, with only our devices to turn to, internet usage went up by an estimated 70% and streaming over 12%, so it’s safe to assume, this average has increased.
Emails are one of the biggest contributors to digital CO2 emissions, a method of communication that is at times so frivolous yet the impact is profound. A typical business user creates 135kg (298lbs) CO2e from sending emails every year, which is the equivalent of driving 200 miles in a family car. Furthermore, if every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email, it could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – the equivalent to taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road or the same as 81,152 flights to Madrid according to energy company, OVO.
That being said, our reliance on tech could also be our saviour. As we all become more accustomed to communicating with colleagues and clients from all over the world via video conferencing, the need for business travel after Covid comes into question. A recent study found that video conferencing produced just 7% of the emissions of meeting in person. Another study found that the impact of a car ride exceeds the impact of a video conference at less than 20km. So while we are all craving the human interaction that is lacking from our lives currently, perhaps there are some silver linings to this pandemic after all.
We’re going to take this opportunity to talk about ways in which we as a business are reducing our carbon footprint and putting the planet first.
ORCA X Ecologi
First and foremost, we are proud to say we are members of Ecologi. Simply put, Ecologi plant trees and fund climate crisis solutions with the ultimate goal to help people like you and businesses like ours to have a positive impact on the climate and become climate positive.
By working with Ecologi we are able to offset the team’s entire carbon footprint, including emissions from our homes, personal travel, holidays, food, hobbies and more. We are proud to say we are helping to fund the world’s best climate crisis solutions, including planting groves of trees in our own ORCA forest, and financing carbon reduction projects from around the world.
So far we have reduced carbon output by 13.25T and planted 193 trees which is equivalent to one of the following; 10 long haul flights, 40 metres of sea iced saved or 32,873 miles driven in a car. This month our partnership has also contributed to projects including Turning waste biogas into electricity in Thailand (3.67T CO2 removed) and Forest protect in Zimbabwe (1.1T CO2 removed).
Learn more about our work with Ecologi and see how your business can become climate positive here.
With some of our team living as far as 44 miles away we wanted to think about the environmental impact of our transport to work too. To tackle the way we contribute to climate change with transport we decided to sign up with Cyclescheme. Cyclescheme offers employers and employees the chance to buy a bike and/or accessories with huge savings backed by the government. There are a couple of options for how to pay but generally payments are taken out of your monthly salary so you don’t feel the financial impact of buying your favourite bike. Cycling to work from our furthest point saves 1568 kg of CO2 per year which is the equivalent of the absorption rate of 75 fully grown trees. This scheme has allowed more than half of our studio to cycle to work and improve our impact not only on the land but also our physical and mental health too.
As mentioned above, video conferencing has completely changed the way we’ve been working through the pandemic which has also allowed us to cut back on the need for travel to client meetings. Being able to bring everything in-house has not only streamlined our approach to meetings but is also helping offset our carbon footprint.
Sustainable Web Solutions
Ever thought about when a webpage takes a long time to load? That’s producing CO2 for every single user that visits that site. An average website produces 4.61 grams of CO2 for every page view. To combat this and reduce that number, we implement a few different strategies to make sure our websites are as energy efficient as possible.
High up on that list, and something you may not initially think of is UX. If your user journey is clear then your audience will find it easy to navigate to the pages they need, reducing the need to scrawl through your website to get that key bit of information - thus reducing the energy taken up by loading lots of unnecessary pages.
SEO and copywriting also go hand-in-hand with the above. The clearer the information on your website, the more efficient it is. Your content will appear in Google (or other search engines) where it needs to be found and will be taking users to exactly what they were looking for. Reducing energy and keeping your users happy too.
This one goes without saying but optimising images are key not only for your user experience but also for the amount of energy being used to load them.
We’ve also been looking at new, lightweight build options, exploring various JAM stack headless CMS solutions, to reduce the load times, size and thus carbon footprint of our websites.
We fully see the irony here, that being a creative agency, naturally our portfolio is going to be loaded with high-res images and heavy showreels, so we appreciate we’re treading a thin line between tackling the problem and adding to the problem, but we’re always trying to learn how to do better and improve our processes.
If you want to know more about how we can help your business become more sustainable through our branding and website building processes then hit us up, we’d love to hear from you!
Sustainable Printing Solutions
Although printing in general seems to be a dying artform in many areas, we’re still huge fans of creating beautiful, tangible brand assets that people can touch, hold and enjoy. The printing industry can be a huge generator of CO2 - if done incorrectly - and this is why we team up with printing partners who make a conscious effort to use the best and most sustainable materials, finishes and printing techniques. WithPrint is just one of those brilliant partners. They’re constantly pushing the envelope to come up with the best, new sustainable techniques and finishes, and they work with paper manufacturers across europe who are also committed to producing sustainable, responsibly sourced papers and materials. Their 2021 desktop calendars, for example, were printed on recycled stock, and their postage wrapper can be planted to grow some beautiful meadow flowers!
We’re also in the process of submitting our impact assessment to become a certified B-Corporation.These are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
I mean, this one is a no brainer, but one we’re pretty damn hot on. We’re big fans of recycling and doing our bit to help the environment. We have separate bins for food waste, papers, plastics and other recyclable materials, as every office now should. We’re not doing anything revolutionary, but being aware and making a considered effort is what we should all be doing.
It’s not something we actively push on our staff, but as a bunch of like minded, environmentally conscious individuals who care about our collective future and our planet, we’ve all made personal lifestyle changes and commitments to reduce our individual carbon footprint, some big, some small. Whether that be quitting meat, eating less fish, walking more, being more conscious about the brands we buy and so on, the list goes on. These are just baby steps, we know that, but we’re all trying to be more conscious about our choices and to practice what we preach.
Today, on the day of posting this article, it is Earth Day 2021! EARTHDAY.ORG’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet.
“Our world needs transformational change. It’s time for the world to hold sectors accountable for their role in our environmental crisis while also calling for bold, creative, and innovative solutions. This will require action at all levels, from business and investment to city and national government.
That’s where you come in: As an individual, you yield real power and influence as a consumer, a voter, and a member of a community that can unite for change.
Don’t underestimate your power. When your voice and your actions are united with thousands or millions of others around the world, we create a movement that is inclusive, impactful, and impossible to ignore.
Every Earth Day can drive a year of energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to create a new plan of action for our planet”
Learn more about how to get involved with Earth Day and other climate events here >