Sustainability in digital: 4 practical initiatives for 2023
Sustainability is no longer a buzzword, but a critical business strategy for 2023 and beyond.
Globally, 95% of consumers consider a product’s sustainability to be important and 88% shared their intentional support for a brand that supports social or environmental initiatives.
But as climate change becomes increasingly dire, brands—together with the larger world—have also become aware of the environmental costs of technology and digital marketing. As much as 32% of an individual’s carbon footprint comes from advertising. And with $500 billion spent by marketers on advertising every year, you can understand how significant the industry’s impact on climate change is.
With that in mind, as both a digital agency and a certified B Corporation, we’d like to share some strategies for green-ifying your digital business and marketing efforts.
Create campaigns with a net zero footprint
Advertising-related emissions aren’t just already responsible for a significant portion of global emissions, they’re increasing as well. Between 2019 and 2022, emissions from advertising campaigns increased by 11%.
If you’re looking for a way to bolster a reduction strategy or to kickstart a sustainability initiative, marketing and advertising campaigns are a logical place to start.
One means of mitigating the impact of marketing campaigns is by offsetting them using a trusted provider to purchase carbon credits. We work with ClimatePartner, which helps us measure the impact of a campaign and source a sufficient amount of carbon credits to compensate for it.
By working with vendors like ClimatePartner, you can also walk through a few potential strategies for your campaign to determine what channels you can utilise that strike a balance between audience impact and carbon impact.
Build greener solutions
Tech is changing in more ways than one. Not only are innovations like Web3 emerging, so are ways of improving tech’s sustainability.
When it comes to cloud environments and cloud-based architecture solutions, providers like Microsoft offer options that can vastly reduce your carbon footprint. Compared to old-school on-premises data centres, Microsoft Azure is as much as 98% more carbon efficient.
Within the past several years, other cloud providers have also taken steps to increase their efficiency and reduce their environmental impact. To get a feel for how effective (or ineffective) these providers have become, it helps to use a metric called “power usage effectiveness,” or “PUE.”
PUE is expressed as a ratio, with efficiency increasing as the quotient decreases toward a value of 1.0. The average PUE for an on-prem data centre is 1.70, by contrast, Microsoft Azure has a PUE of 1.18.
Given these recent developments in sustainability, we’re now helping clients re-assess their architecture and build a solution that keeps sustainability top of mind.
By using a cloud environment based in Microsoft Azure, AWS, and/or Google Cloud, you’re not only able to build a greener architecture, but you can also automate key processes to eliminate overconsumption of cloud resources and better your system’s PUE.
Manage your carbon impact with Net Zero Cloud
Salesforce’s Net Zero Cloud was launched last year to allow companies to report on their carbon emissions.
Net Zero Cloud is an easy-to-use system within Salesforce that uses a set of predefined emissions factors for measuring the carbon emissions associated with everything from the impact of your tech stack to energy consumption within offices to commuting and travel. In turn, it calculates the number of carbon credits you’ll need to purchase to offset your brand’s footprint.
Overall, the system does more than help you to measure and offset your brand’s carbon footprint: it also helps improve transparency with stakeholders at your brand and allows you to strategise your emissions reduction by testing various scenarios.
Having already implemented Net Zero Cloud for ourselves to help us stay on top of our sustainability goals, DEPT® has also become a Net Zero Cloud partner to help our clients do the same.
Encourage thinking about carbon
Thinking about sustainability can feel overwhelming at times. Let’s face it: every day the work we do in our industry inevitably puts more carbon into our atmosphere.
That said, by encouraging folks within your team and at your company to start thinking about carbon more often, you’ll find that many small-scale changes add up.
For instance, the video and content production team at DEPT® has started encouraging clients to donate £250 per shoot to offset the carbon emissions associated with the project.
Although the team isn’t able to measure the exact emissions associated with a given shoot, their mission to do good has made a difference. In total, they’ve helped raise nearly £12,000 for the Woodland Trust, a British reforestation project that plants native trees throughout the country.
By learning to think about your emissions output, you and your team will start to learn how to weigh your options and make choices or create new practices that help the planet.
The bigger picture
As consumers demand more from brands, many have taken it upon themselves to commit to achieving net zero carbon emissions on a company-wide scale.
DEPT® achieved our own net-zero goal following our Climate Neutral Certification in 2021. As part of this certification, we’re required to measure our company-wide carbon footprint every year and offset it using carbon credits.
That said, should you choose to pursue your own large-scale net-zero goal, it’s important to remember that carbon credits are just a piece of the puzzle. They don’t erase your impact, rather, they’re a way of taking responsibility for them while you actively work on reducing emissions with strategies like those we’ve outlined here.
If you’re interested in partnering with an organisation to help your brand go net zero, we highly recommend Climate Neutral for their support in creating and holding us accountable in hitting our reduction strategy targets.