A message from our Co-founders
This year, we are very proud of what we’ve achieved here at Wholegrain Digital, towards our mission of being a truly sustainable business and encouraging and inspiring others to strive for the same. Our industry has seen a real shift this year, even more so recently, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of the 2019/20 financial year, which has forced businesses across the world to rethink how they operate. It has already created some positive gains for the environment but also a heavier dependence on digital technology, making the environmental impact and the mental health implications of digital more important to address than ever.
This report highlights some of our achievements towards our vision of accelerating the shift towards an internet that’s good for people and planet, as well as what our plans are for 2021 and beyond.
2019/20 Impact Highlights
|Appearing on BBC|
|Increasing our B Impact score by 24.2, to 108.4|
|Now using 100% renewable energy both in the office and at home|
|Launched a new sustainability newsletter, attracting more than 800 subscribers in 6 months.|
Our biggest contracts by income were:
All of our clients are positive organisations that we love working with, and many have specific wording in their mission statement or articles of association to define a social or environmental purpose in addition to financial profit.
The breakdown of where our revenue came from is illustrated below:
67% of our revenue came from client projects that have a defined positive purpose beyond financial profit. This comprises 31.7% of our revenue from non-profit organisations and 35.3% from purpose driven businesses, including 14.3% of our revenue from Certified B Corporations.
Becoming a better B Corp
This year, we recertified as a B Corporation and were over the moon to learn that our efforts to improve had paid off, achieving a score of 108.4 against a score of 84.2 when we first certified as a B Corp in 2017.
The areas we invested in reaped the biggest rewards, with our greatest achievements being in Governance, Worker and Customer satisfaction, Community, and of course, Environment.
Our step successes towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
There are 17 Global Goals, covering different areas, each with the aim of bringing together governments, businesses, individuals and international organisations across the world to work towards a more sustainable future.
We have our own measurable goals, against which we have been taking specific action to achieve our aims. These mostly relate to SDG 13, Climate Action.
Urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Reducing our emissions
Our emissions figures include all 3 emissions scopes, with Scope 3 including:
- Electricity and gas use for working from home
- Business travel
Our emissions remain very low compared to most other companies, largely thanks to our service oriented business model, strict no fly policy and our attempts to use second hand and refurbished electronics.
- Total carbon emissions for 2019/20 was 11.6 tonnes
- This works out at 851.6kg per staff member (full time equivalent)
- In April 2020, we were pleased to report that all of our staff have now switched to renewable energy suppliers, meaning that we now use 100% renewable energy both at the office and at home
- We travelled 73,251km, a massive reduction on last year (118,000km). Most of our travel is commuting to the office, so we expect this to reduce drastically in 2020/21, as a result of the national lockdown that started in March 2020.
Reducing our impact
Although our emissions are low, we remain committed to working towards net zero, with a stretch goal of even becoming carbon positive, by the end of the 2020/21 financial year.
This year, we introduced the idea of carbon synching, rather than offsetting our emissions, and went on to share our tree-planting model to help others who also aim to become a regenerative business. This year, we planted more than four and a half thousand trees altogether using this model, and we expect to plant even more in the next financial year as we work towards our ultimate target of becoming carbon positive.
On a smaller scale, we also found more ways as a team to reduce our individual carbon footprints, making our Christmas celebrations even more sustainable than usual by taking part in the Mindful Chef’s Reverse Advent Calendar and swapping Christmas gifts for charitable contributions. Following this, the whole team then voted for a company wide vegetarian food policy.
1% for the Planet We are proud to be a member of 1% for the Planet and donate 1% of our annual revenue (yes, revenue, not profit) to environmental causes. In 2018/19 this included:
Through our membership of B Corporation and our active participation in various campaigns as well as working on projects with fellow B Corporations, including Ecover, EQ Investors, Red-Inc and One Water.
In 2019/20, we partnered with ecotourism organisation Crees, providing our WordPress maintenance service for free to support them through the impact that covid-19 had on their ability to protect the Amazon and those who live there.
We are members and supporters of Do Nation, taking part in all of their B Corporation challenges throughout the year and encouraging others to use the platform to make small changes that can have a big positive impact on the planet.
Eden Reforestation Projects
Our partnership with Eden forms part of our commitment to becoming a regenerative business.
The Green Web Foundation
We support the great work The Green Web Foundation is doing towards a more sustainable internet with an annual donation.
We’ve long supported charity Possible, with their mission to speed up action on climate change, with a monthly donation and targeted support on specific projects.
Surfers Against Sewage
We are members of the Surfers Against Sewage’s 250 Club, supporting the wonderful work they are doing to protect Britain’s coastlines.
Trees for Life
Our partnership with Tress for Life forms part of our commitment to becoming a regenerative business.
Using our voice
In 2019/20 we published 18 articles on environmental topics as well as a number of articles relating to the human impact of business and technology. We also contributed to several publications, and appeared on a BBC Politics Live feature on the environmental impact of the internet, ‘Can the Internet go green?’
In October 2019, we launched sustainability focused newsletter, Curiously Green, which attracted more than 800 subscribers in 6 months.
Curiously Green continues to grow its audience, and is now becoming known as one of the leading publications in the areas of digital sustainability.
Inspiring change in our industry
We continue to focus our efforts on raising awareness of the internet’s environmental impact and demonstrating how solutions to the problem are good for society and business, in the hope we will inspire others to do the same.
Greening the web
- 100% of our own websites were hosted on green hosting
- 61% of our clients websites were hosted on green hosting.
Our target is for 100% of client websites to be hosted on green hosting by 2026.
We are also making progress towards our target for the websites that we develop to be less than the industry average. Currently, the average CO2 per page view tested on WebsiteCarbon.com is 1.76 grams (in March 2020) but the average for the whole web is much higher at 3.17 grams.
Our average client website homepage in 2019/20 had emissions of 0.58 grams CO2 per page view (using Website Carbon v2 methodology). This is a great achievement and proves what can be done when sustainability is prioritised in design and development.
Following the launch of Website Carbon, the world’s first carbon calculator for websites, in 2018/19, we have responded to feedback and continued to make improvements to this tool, which is embedded in our own work, and is now used widely by others in the industry.
In 2020, we released a WordPress plugin for website carbon, so that businesses can display their environmental credentials on their website for all to see, and encourage others to ‘clean up’ their websites, so that they can do the same.Test your website
Happy team, happy clients
Ensuring that our team members are all healthy and happy is one of the best ways to make sure we deliver as a business, and achieve our goals and of course, make our clients happy!
We are firm believers that happy people = happy people!
We have lots of ways in which we invest in our staff, and encourage them to invest in themselves and be part of our mission to have a positive impact on the planet – from offering incentives for using renewable energy at home, to providing extra time off for those who choose not to fly for their personal holidays.
We volunteered a total of 120 hours between us as team activities.
In addition, our Senior Developer Jerome, is now a long-term volunteer with The Listening Place, a London based charity that provides support to those who no longer feel life is worth living, offering a space for them to talk through their feelings in a safe environment.
I volunteer because there isn’t enough help for people who are going through very dark times and having someone who is just there to listen and won’t fix, judge or freak out can make a difference.Jerome Toole, Senior WordPress Developer
Looking ahead to 2020/21, as always we aim to build on the positive steps we’ve been taking towards our vision, by continuing to share our goals and how we are working towards them, both within Wholegrain Digital by investing in our team, and by increasing our wider impact on the world around us by using our voice to inspire change for a better future.
In the 2020/21 financial year we hope to achieve our goal of becoming a climate positive and regenerative business, and significantly expand our Carbon Synching programme.