Unusually for someone that works in technology, I am a bit of a self-confessed tree hugger. I love being outdoors and am constantly trying to lessen my impact on the environment. I go for woodland walks whenever I can, I have an allotment so I can grow my own food, a small messy garden that is a haven for wildlife and last year, I spent two weeks in Dartmoor doing a Permaculture Design Course.
When I worked in a regular office there were things that grated with my sense of what is right; what was the cost of all this technology on the planet? I was a part of this and it didn’t make me feel too good about myself.
Luckily I was given the opportunity to step back and think about how I lived my life and how I earned a living, my initial thought was to try to earn my living a different way. I was already a qualified yoga teacher so although I did a bit of web development work here and there to help pay the bills, I threw myself into teaching, which was more inline with my tree hugging tendencies. However, much as I loved teaching yoga, I missed the mental stimulation of working with digital technology so after a lot of consideration, I decided what was needed was balance. There had to be a way of still working in web development while maintaining the connection and consideration for others and the environment that I got from yoga. And so the idea for Earth People Connect was born.
Before I continue, I just want to say that making my business and my life in general have minimal impact on the environment is very much a work in progress and I know there is still a long way to go, but read on to find out what has been happening so far.
My first thought, in terms of environmental impact for a web services business was hosting for the websites I enjoyed building. For those of you less familiar with the concept of hosting, here is a brief explanation; a website is made up of a number of files that link together; there are files to create the structure of the site, files to make it look a certain way (colour, font, etc…), images, videos, etc. All of these files have to be saved somewhere. This is the ‘host’. A large computer (referred to as a server) that has a folder for each website it hosts containing all the files needed to make up a website. This computer has to be on All The Time so that the website is always available. On top of that there are usually backup servers in case anything happens to the main one allowing for a switch with little or no disruption. This uses an awful lot of energy! And so began my search for solar powered hosting. I didn’t even know if such a thing existed. However, I was pleasantly surprised! There are a few out there and I was delighted to find a UK solar powered hosting company in the form of Web Wiz who not only provide solar powered hosting but a great service too. I used this hosting company for a year before considering putting clients websites on it and had no issues whatsoever.
The next major aspect I considered was travel. The advantages of a small web services business is that it can be run from home. This obviously cuts out the daily commute, therefore reducing adding to harmful emissions but then there are the other benefits of this that can go unnoticed. For example, every time I make a change to environmentally improve my home, I automatically make my ‘office’ more environmentally friendly too. It also helps to reduce food miles as I can pick tomatoes from my patio to add to my lunch in summer!
Obviously there is sometimes a need to travel for work. Video conferencing is great but if possible it is often better to have a face-to-face conversation. Writing this as the coronavirus lockdown is easing, I can definitely say I appreciate being able to speak to other people in person more than ever! Thankfully there are many companies out there that allow us to compensate for the impact of our travel by donating to worthy causes around the world. Earth People Connect is currently using Carbon Footprint but there are many others out there all deserving of donations.
Digital technology is great - we have information on absolutely everything at our fingertips, we are able to stay in contact with people even when we are thousands of miles apart and buy what we need even when we can’t go the shops but here at Earth People Connect we believe that it shouldn’t end up costing the planet we live on and we will continue to take steps to minimise our own impact on the environment as well as assisting our clients to do so.
It’s all about balance so if you haven’t taken the time to go outside today and notice what nature is doing around you, then look up from your screen and go take a look… and maybe hug a tree…