Sustainability: What Can Agencies, Freelancers and Companies Really Do?

Michael Firnkes Updated on 22.10.2020
6 Min.
Sustainability for agencies and freelancers
Last updated on 22.10.2020

More and more freelancers and agencies are willing to work sustainably. But what does that actually mean and how can you approach this with your business? Stephie Keilholz and Philipp Stakenborg from the agency The Good Call share their thoughts in the following interview.

As a creative agency for sustainable companies and projects you want to set a good example. What are the most important levers in your office or at work to do good yourself?

On the journey towards sustainability there are many smaller and larger steps that companies and organisations can take. The good news is that the journey is a hell of a lot of fun, good for the world and gives employees* a greater sense of purpose than, for example, a chic office with a foosball table.

Our office runs on green electricity, just like our climate positive hosting at RAIDBOXES . Data protection is very important to us, therefore our website does not use any trackers, cookies or data kraken. A positive side effect: Per page view only about 0.46g CO2 is emitted, which is 76% better than the average (see the Website Carbon Calculator).

website carbon tester
The Carbon Tester website

We avoid plastic waste, unnecessary new purchases and are big recycling fans. As a starting signal we can offer other companies the chance to participate in monthly challenges such as the Plastic Free July recommend. In this way, climate protection becomes the focus of all employees*.

A very large adjustment screw - even if it only indirectly affects office work - is the topic of nutrition: We eat purely vegetable and largely regional food. Since this year, we have even partially grown our own vegetables. However, the first harvest has been quite manageable. Who wants to start small, can introduce a vegetable Thursday and discover together in the team vegane courts. In addition, companies can rely on purely vegan catering at events. Ideally, this is also low waste, i.e. with little packaging waste.

Business travel is another major factor in the CO2 footprint: 21,400 such activities start every hour in Germany alone, i.e. almost 187.5 million business trips per year. Flying is the most climate-damaging way of getting to a business meeting. It is therefore worthwhile travelling by train. A digital meeting is also suitable for many votes.

This is not only good in terms of sustainability, but also relieves employees from too much travel stress. We ourselves have decided in 2017 to stop flying privately and professionally. We launched a campaign to this end in the summer:

Ecological business trips
The initiative

Companies should support their employees in choosing sustainable means of transport and provide incentives for more sustainability. For example, special leave for employees who forgo business flights and take the train instead.

How employees* get to work every day also has a major impact on the CO2 footprint: commuting by train or bicycle is much more sustainable than by (company) car. Home office days or full-time remote work can also reduce emissions.

Tip: Working remotely brings up some challenges. Read more about this in our blog post Working RemotelyAdvantages & disadvantages for employees and companies.

The topic of further education can also be charged "green". Visiting events in the eco-social cosmos regularly gives us new impulses. And it promotes the transfer of knowledge in our own sustainability efforts.

Those who already have the above-mentioned levers in the focus of their own entrepreneurial activities can also take initiatives such as Entrepreneurs 4 Future connect. Or for example the Sustainable Web Manifesto sign.

Entrepreneurs 4 Future
Entrepreneurs 4 Future advocate climate protection

Last but not least, we would like to encourage all agencies, freelancers, companies and employees to take to the streets for climate protection. Fridays for Future calls for 4. global climate strike on November 29. Of course we will be there too!

It is not always easy to find good sustainable suppliers. For example, we have done a lot of research on what has a better eco-balance: Cloth towels vs paper towels vs reusable towel rolls for employees. What is your way to find the "greenest" solution?

Research is not always easy, as there are still many "unsustainable solutions" out there. We would be thrilled if suppliers, tools and products would indicate the ecological footprint. At the moment, however, this is probably still a vision of the future.

We always keep our eyes and ears open when it comes to manufacturers* who are already trendsetting today. Trade fairs also bring us into contact with good service providers. For example the Green World Tour.

Tip: How sustainable can the internet be? And how "green" is WordPress? Read more in our article on WordPress and sustainability.

A few criteria help us in the selection process:

  • Does the company use green electricity?
  • If the company has a Public welfare balance created?
  • If it is a physical product: where does it come from, how long is the journey? Under what conditions was it manufactured? How durable is it?
  • Are really sustainable materials used? This is a tricky point, as there are many seals and certifications, not all of which necessarily distinguish organic products.
  • Is it possible to buy the product also second hand?
  • How do others do it, who also have similar demands on sustainability as we do?

And of course always the question: do I really need this? Because it is most sustainable when something does not have to be produced in the first place.

Does eco-social action really lead to higher costs, so that smaller companies are disadvantaged here? Or is this a spurious argument?

No, ecological-social action does not necessarily lead to additional costs:

  • Sustainable providers* of online services or products are not necessarily more expensive
  • Sustainable products are generally more durable than conventional products
  • It can be very economical to pay attention to sustainability in all areas of the company: less produced marketing material, renouncing disposable products that have to be bought again and again, energy-saving lighting, etc.

If one considers that the actual costs (working conditions, ecological destruction, etc.) are not taken into account by most providers, then we should always make the decision for an ecological-social provider, even if the money factor is not taken into account.

You bet on the climate-positive hosting of RAIDBOXES . How did you come up with that? And how satisfied are you with it, apart from the ecological aspect?

We are super satisfied with RAIDBOXES it, even more enthusiastic: performanceSupport, company values - with you we have found our absolute favourite hosting provider. Good things get around: We found you through a recommendation from our eco-social network. They were impressed by your dashboard, the performance and also your affiliate system enthusiastic.

The Good Call is an eco-social creative agency. Who are your clients?

Our customers include, for example, the petition platform, the Social Entrepreneurship Network Germany (SEND e.V.), the engagement platform vostel or even the Wiesbaden Environmental Agency. What these projects have in common is that they address the pressing questions of our time. And that they strive for positive change on a social and/or ecological level.

Do you choose your clients yourself? Or do you reject projects if they do not meet your criteria for sustainability?

We are a value-driven agency and work exclusively with ecological or social projects. In order to check whether a new project request suits us, we first of all take a look at the mission and vision of the organisation. And we take a closer look at the website and the product or service.

We'll find out which of the 17 Goals (SDGs) the framework in which the project takes place and who the partners or sponsors involved are. This gives us a good feeling whether we are the right agency for the project. If it does not fit, we will reject the request: We only offer what we are convinced of. And we do not support anything that does not help the world or our clients.

There are already enough agencies out there that put profit at the top of their corporate agenda. We believe that more value-driven agencies are needed. Because as creative service providers* we can directly participate in improving the status quo.

A few words about you and your team?

Behind The Good Call are Stephie Keilholz and Philipp Stakenborg. After both of us had worked for years in conventional marketing jobs and agency projects, we founded our eco-social creative agency in April 2018. In order to focus our work on the organizations that work for a better world.

The Good Call Team
Stephie Keilholz and Philipp Stakenborg

We firmly believe in the transformative powers of design and good marketing. Both disciplines have the ability to simplify communication, enhance experiences, appeal to and inspire people.

Do you have questions for Stephie and Phillip? Feel free to use the comment function. Do you want to read more current articles on WordPress and sustainability? Then follow us on Twitter, Facebook , or subscribe to our newsletter.

Michael takes cake care of the areas of content and mental health at RAIDBOXES. He has been active in the blogger and WordPress community since 2007. Among other things as co-organizer of WordPress events, book author and corporate blog trainer. He loves blogging incredibly, professionally but also privately. Michael works and writes remotely from sunny Freiburg.

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