As a sustainable web agency, why aren’t all our clients ‘green’?

Written by Gary James - June 2, 2020

Girl barefoot on beach

Wholegrain Digital was founded in 2007 by husband and wife, Tom and Vineeta Greenwood, with the aim of helping positive organisations thrive online.

It was a business experiment of sorts – they wanted to see if they could establish a truly sustainable web agency that embodied a passion for sustainability, as well as being able to ‘walk the walk’ amongst all the talk of using the power of the web to create positive change.

It was never about becoming judge and jury – although yes, it does mean that we need to be brave enough to stand up for what we believe in even at moments when our business decisions may prove to be difficult or unpopular. It was more about becoming a catalyst for our industry, helping to lead the way and encourage our clients and competitors to shift towards a greener internet and eventually a more sustainable future for us all.

This being the case, some may ask why aren’t all our clients ‘green’?

The answer is that in choosing to work with us, in some way they all are; we live our own values and instil them into the work we produce for every client we work with, irrespective of their own particular business niche or industry. The net result remains the same – we will always deliver high performance, low carbon websites. We will always recommend green hosting. We will always recommend optimisation of code and content. This holds true for every single project we work on and our work reflects this.

Moreover, as an agency we are very open about our approach and what we stand for. Many conversations that we have with potential new clients start by us explaining that the thing we do is even a ‘thing’. ‘Low carbon websites you say? Well I never!’

Of course if a business were to approach us who clearly fell into the red area of our ethical screening policy, such as a fossil fuel or tobacco company, then no, we are probably not the right agency for them. But that’s fine, and they get that. Those are the cases where we resolve to make the tough business decision to put our own values before profit.

We are determined that the best approach for all our clients is to lead by example, driving us to continuously refine our processes to become industry leaders in web sustainability and performance, as well as through meeting our own sustainability goals that help facilitate a shift towards a zero-carbon future, including:

  • Be net zero carbon by the end of FY2019-20 and carbon positive by the end of FY2020-21
  • Ensure that the average CO2/page view of all new websites is less than the industry average (currently 1.76 grams per page view)
  • Increase the proportion of our client’s websites using web hosting powered by renewable sources to 50% by 2020 and 100% by 2026 (we’ve already reached this one with around 65% of client websites now on renewable sources… woo hoo!)

Overall we believe that people are inherently good, and that good people run great businesses that want to leave the planet in a better shape than they found it. Working with us is another piece in the puzzle towards making that happen, whatever business you happen to be in.

If your business has yet to start its own journey toward making your organisation ‘green’, then your website is a great place to start. You can try out our free website carbon calculator, or just get in touch and we’ll be very happy to offer advice.