Sustainability: it’s a much abused word. We could never claim to be sustainable, not in the true sense of having a neutral environmental impact, and we are unlikely to achieve this state. The depressing truth is that in the short-term it would be very challenging for most people to live truly sustainable lives without completely revoking the lifestyles we are all to a lesser or greater extent locked in to (whether we like it or not). Moreover, the public- and private-sector services we rely on make up a large proportion of our unsustainable environmental footprint - this part is largely outside of our direct control. The growing human population is another factor - the more of us there are, the fewer resources there are to go around. If there were only a million people on Earth we could all live like kings sustainably!
That said, at home and at work it is only right and proper that we aim to reduce our environmental impact as far as we reasonably can - not only does this help us to understand how much is achievable in reality, it also gives us the opportunity to try some of the latest products and technologies. We also feel that the best way to learn is to “practice as we preach” - in this way we can better understand the challenges we all face in trying to achieve a sustainable lifestyle, and better be able to understand issues from the client’s perspective. We will be passing on our experiences - good and bad - through articles we publish through various channels and in the information we pass on to clients.
Our homes and offices are being made as energy-efficient as possible - on top of comprehensive insulation and modern double-glazing, solar PV and solar thermal technology provides much of our electricity and hot water, and a wood-burning stove helps to keep central heating requirements to a minimum. Energy-efficient lighting includes the latest LED technology, and modern kitchen appliances help to reduce electricity consumption further.
Food and garden waste (and even old cotton and wool clothing) is composted to help nourish the vegetable patches, and rainwater is captured in a water butt for watering the garden in drier spells. Everything that can be is reused, repaired, given away to friends, Freecycled or recycled, helping to keep waste to a minimum.
Business travel is kept to a minimum. We use public transport and walk whenever practical - it is easy to work on a train with modern technology, and a bit of exercise keeps us trim! Unfortunately it is inevitable that sometimes a car is the only practical way of reaching more remote locations, but we will reduce the impact by car-sharing where possible, and by using efficient driving techniques.
Much travel can be eliminated altogether by using electronic communication - we often use Skype teleconferencing to avoid the need to travel to a meeting, and of course we use more familiar technology like email and the internet to run our business day in, day out.
This website is hosted on servers in a solar-powered data centre based in the US, through UK hosting company Lightbeing Creations.
The energy embedded in IT equipment is shocking, so we keep our kit going as long as practical, and buy second-hand where possible. In recognition of the huge environmental impact of manufacturing IT kit, my “new” PC is a £45 second-hand Dell Optiplex from Jamie’s Computers in Southampton - a social enterprise which refurbishes IT equipment donated by businesses and other organisations. I’ve upgraded the machine a used solid-state drive (£40) and Windows 8 (£25), and now it’s as fast as I could hope for - not bad for a £100 machine...
The manufacture of paper has a large environmental impact, so we aim to keep printing to a minimum. In practice this means we concentrate on exploiting IT for our business activities - reports are sent out electronically, and most marketing and advertising is carried out online in preference to printing out thousands of flyers or using direct mail, for example. The paper we do need to use is made from