What sustainability measures our design agency is working towards during COP27

The whole world inevitably knows that COP27 was due to take place on 6th-18th November. At the time of writing this article the event is already in full swing and has had massive backlash from a lot of angry people for various reasons. From event organisers not allowing any activists from the most affected countries into the summit, to the realisation that a lot of the world’s biggest polluters aren’t making any real efforts to limit their impact on global warming.

1.5C needs to be a red line….this cannot be the Cop where we lose 1.5C” said Alok Sharma, President of the previous COP26.

Some parts… or quite a lot of the event have hugely dampened our positive outlook from COP26 and now, we’re actually pretty terrified for what the future holds. But we hold out hope that the countries of the world, and the governments in each one will do their bit to make big changes and start reversing the effects of climate change.

Despite the bad press off the back of COP27 summit, and the clear greenwashing of the event we were so pleased to read these words from Former Vice President of the USA, Al Gore: “We are capable of solving this crisis because once the world reaches true net-zero, temperatures will stop increasing in as little as three to five years.” His new technology Climate TRACE is set to be a game changer, with the ability to measure and track which companies are polluting the world the most. “Al Gore said the world could reduce emissions by 50% by the end of this decade, and reach net zero by 2050, with the help of now-available technologies.” - The San Diego Union Tribune

With the majority of companies mentioned in his inventory of top greenhouse gas emitters being gas and oil companies the world over, we are hopeful that the small steps we’re taking as an independent design business will help in the effort to become net zero by 2030.

With that in mind we wanted to share the new initiatives we’re working on  in our mission to aim for carbon neutrality. We’re saying goodbye to suppliers who do not hold the same values as us and we’ve been re-evaluating and auditing our entire business to make sure our practices are aligned with everything we believe in. Below are just some of the new initiatives we are in the process of implementing.

  • We started looking at ways we can manage our emissions and are pleased that Ecologi are soon to be offering emissions tracking which will directly link up with the carbon offsetting we are already doing. With this tool we are looking not only to measure emissions in-house but also to analyse our supply chain to get an overarching view of how our entire business practices can reach net zero. As an agency in the design industry we have many external suppliers in our supply chain so it’s imperative that we get it right.
  • We’re in the process of applying for a grant to enable us to install solar panels to power our studio and reduce our consumption of energy from the grid.
  • As we mentioned in our previous blog post we have signed up to the cycle to work scheme which means that now 62.5% of employees cycle to work on a regular basis, 25% walk or use public transport and only 12.5% drive, carpooling where possible. We are also in the process of investing in an electric car which can be charged at our studio and driven to client meetings where in-person meetings are necessary.

How can other businesses in the design industry address their supply chain to help fight the climate crisis?

Below we break down some of the steps ORCA have taken to do this and how it could also help your business.

  • Use sustainable products where you can for OOH projects and campaigns. For example when printing be conscious about the types of paper you’re using. GF Smith have a range of ‘conscious’ papers from cotton, FSC certified papers, recycled and more. You can also choose to use water-based inks where possible and biodegradable packaging.
  • For Bristol based businesses, our friends over at WithPrint are a great, local and sustainable option. They’re really at the top of their game when it comes to sustainable practices and are always on hand to offer advice should you need it.
  • Opt for an eco-friendly domain provider like The Positive Internet Company who use 100% renewable electricity to power their “Positive Park” data centre.
  • Create a sensible travel policy to limit unnecessary road travel. Going back to covid times, it was an essential part of business and we saw all throughout the news how great it was that people were using their cars much less.
  • Think about producing your own helpful resources to educate your clients and followers on the importance of conscious business practices.

Below are some extra steps you can take that, for our design studio have been imperative in paving the way to being a better business and doing good for the planet.

  • Consider applying to be B Corp accredited. You can start a B Impact Assessment which aims to assess your impact on the world by benchmarking your business against your industry peers. Allowing you to set goals to ensure your business is on the right path to making your business a force for good.
  • Encourage staff to travel to work sustainably. Utilise government initiatives where appropriate like the cycle to work scheme.
  • Apply for funding to help your business become greener.

We hope this article is insightful and will give you and your business some ideas on what immediate action can be taken. For a full breakdown of what we’d achieved prior to the last COP26 summit, read our previous blog post.

All in all, we’re pretty peeved with all the greenwashing of COP27 and the lack of coverage (although The Guardian seem to be pretty on it). We’re heading towards mass extinction in the pursuit of globalised capitalism and economic growth, spurred on by the greediest people on the planet. But we must try to remain calm and reasonably positive, otherwise what else can you do? We’re doing our bit, but we know there’s more to be done and we won’t stop until we achieve carbon negativity!

We’ll keep our journal updated with any new, helpful resources we find or personal recommendations of great products and businesses that are paving the way for a better future. Please hit us up on LinkedIn and tell us if you’ve found any new resources, apps, business or the like that can help small businesses?

Written by

Vicki Lee