Sustainability Update + 2023 Action Plan

27 June 2023

We're big advocates for environmental sustainability. Although not experts – and certainly not perfect – we're learning a lot, and doing what we can to make a positive difference. And by sharing what we're doing, we're hoping we can also help others to help the planet.

We published our first Sustainability Pledge back in December 2020 – setting out our actions to become a more sustainable company. Since then we’ve shared updates about our plans, what we’ve managed to get done, what we haven't done – and why.

Sustainability Pledge 2022

How did we get on?

✅ Calculate our predicted carbon footprint for 2023

This year's estimate was calculated using more granular data about the Goods and Services that we use: Carbon Footprint Update 2023

✅ Publish a 'green hosting' update

'Green hosting' is not as straightforward as simply picking a hosting company that uses renewable energy. Find out more – The mysteries of 'green hosting'

❌ Explore more ethical analytics and tracking tools

Yet again we’ve failed to meet this pledge, which was already carried over from the previous year. Again, we’ve prioritised other things – so it’s now on a back-burner list for the future.

✅ Create a 'Supercool Guide to Sustainable Meetings'

Based on an internal document used by the team, this guide includes practical tips and suggestions that can be used by anyone and everyone: A Supercool Guide To Sustainable In-Person Meetings

(It came in handy recently, when the team met up in Brum for our annual in-person get-together)

😐 Request Sustainability / Environmental Policies from suppliers

This is supposedly ongoing – but I’ve not done nearly as much chasing, questioning, or nudging as I’d planned to over the past 12 months.

✅ Technical R&D projects

Hannah and Euan did lots of work investigating WebP – a file format that can reduce image file sizes by up to 70%! That's a chunky reduction in energy. We hit some technical snags applying it to client websites but the good news is …

✅ Review web host Digital Ocean's sustainability progress, and investigate new green hosting providers

We reviewed our hosting set-up, and decided to move all the websites we host to Servd.

Not only do they have great green ethics, but the hosting set-up better optimises resources (including Content Delivery Networks), and makes use of that energy-efficient image format, WebP. This combination should help chip-away at the energy used to host and display clients' websites.

During 2022 we also:
🫶 Planted 500 trees + offset 10t carbon at AMA Conf 2022

We went big on digital sustainability at the AMA Conference in 2022. Our exhibition stand was lush with plants, and we shunned the usual conference swag – instead, planting a whopping 500 trees and offsetting 10t of CO2e on behalf of conference-goers.

Our session was all about the environmental impact of arts, cultural and heritage organisations' websites, and practical tips on how you can make your website kinder to the planet:

Your Website vs. The Planet

🫶 Wrote a mega-popular article full of digital sustainability tips

One of the most popular articles on the Digital Heritage Hub website, I went deep into how to making your website, social channels, emails, and computers less harmful, in this hefty article:

How to make your digital activities better for the environment

🫶 Did a bunch of smaller things, including:
  • Keeping our marketing email database ‘clean’, by removing email addresses of folks who've not opened our newsletter for several months;
  • Adding a maximum 3 images to each email newsletter (click rates are growing – so it can't be hurting!);
  • Only adding images to blog / social media posts if it adds something useful or interesting;
  • Making Supercool's commitment to being sustainable clear in recruitment ads;
  • Updating the team and our social channels with our Ecologi stats every month or so – to help keep environmental sustainability at the forefront of our minds;
  • Semi-regularly reviewed our progress, and any new opportunities to be greener.

Sustainability Action Plan 2023

Because I'm very late writing this article, we've already ticked-off a bunch of actions from this year's list.

✅ Start a sustainability 'working group'

We've reached the point in our sustainability journey where I need to share the load. I'm not always super-efficient, plus, the more folks we have on this, the more impact we can have, more quickly. So Hayley, Kate and I have formed a working group …

✅ Hold quarterly meet-ups to monitor progess

… and we've decided to meet quarterly to make sure we're doing what we've said we will, discuss and resolve any blockers, and share any other sustainability-related stuff we've done, thought about, or happened-upon.

✅ Carbon Literacy training for the team

Back in April, the whole team spent 2 half-days in the company of Carbon Literacy trainer and co-director of one of the UK’s leading climate entertainment companies (Ergon Theatre Ltd), Robin Lyons. We learnt about our impact on the planet – and what we can do about it. Accreditations pending!

✅ Add sustainability ’check-ins’ throughout projects

Project Manager extraordinaire Hayley has formalised the sustainability work we do on new websites by adding 'check-ins' throughout the project process. These are useful not only to make sure that factors relating to a website's sustainability get addressed; but they also act as a reminder that sustainability needs regular consideration.

👉 Supercool website cleanse

Our website's pretty 'green'. We don't add loads of images or videos (which are heavy on energy-use), or create content for the sake of it. But …

Supercool has been going for nearly 20 years. So we have a fair amount of old content sat around on the blog – which dates all the way back to 2004. Overkill! And that old content – most of which which never gets visited and/or is out-of-date – requires energy to store and process.

Waaaah; but it's really hard to let go! I love the odd wander down memory lane, looking back on how far we've come and the projects we've worked on

But not at the expense of the planet, eh? I plan on doing a cull in the coming months, and will share how I go about choosing what stays and what goes. (Promise I'll make that blog post worth the energy.)

👉 Widget to help clients measure page weight

Based on the R&D we started around this last year, we had an idea about how to quickly(ish) help clients to keep an eye on the 'weight' of pages they're building on their websites.

With how we're thinking this will work, we can see two upsides:

  • Clients can see, in real time, how heavy their pages are, so can edit accordingly – to sit below a pre–agreed acceptable maximum.
  • They'll also be able to see what types of content have most – and least – impact on page weight. So, it should also act as a handy learning tool.

Watch this space!

👉 Request Sustainability / Environmental Policies from all suppliers / potential suppliers

It's on me to get more organised about following-up more frequently with existing suppliers. So, it may be a slow-burner again!

👉 Move more clients to Servd

As mentioned in the 2022 pledge update, we've already started doing this. So, it's a case of carrying on until everyone's website is hosted more energy-efficiently, and serving nice lighter-weight WebP images.

👉 Review our Ecologi subscription

We have questioned whether or not our 'Climate Action Workforce' subscription with Ecologi is the most effective and impactful way of investing in sustainability. So, we'll be reviewing this association more regularly. But for now, we're satisfied it's having a positive impact, so we're carrying on with it this year.

👉 Recalculate our predicted carbon footprint for 2023 in Oct/Nov

This is usually done just once a year, but as we're growing the team it'll need to be done to account for having more people in the company.

👉 Calculate our predicted carbon footprint for 2024

That's a pretty ambitious to-do list! But with more hands-on-deck, I'm confident we can make a decent dent in it over the coming months.

During 2023 we'll also:
🌳 Carry on planting trees and supporting CO2e avoidance, reduction and removal projects for every new website we launch

Just this month we've planted/preserved trees near Bolton and Manchester.

🧡 Keep sharing what we're doing – and what we're learning along the way

Being open about this stuff helps keep us accountable, as well as helping and encouraging others – clients, sector suppliers, our peers – to tread more lightly on the planet.

🫶 Do any additional meaningful and impactful things we can!

Things like this …

We're sponsoring Indigo's Act Green Survey 2023

Act Green is designed to help cultural organisations:
  • Discover how different audience groups view the role of cultural organisations in tackling the climate crisis
  • Develop impactful ways to communicate with different audience groups
  • Shape strategies for how best to involve audiences in sustainability initiatives

The survey opens in July 2023 – register to take part

Supercool and Indigo both care deeply about taking action to fight the climate crisis – and sharing knowledge for the benefit of the cultural sector as a whole. So, our sponsorship of Act Green 2023 feels like a natural partnership 🤗🌳

Interested in making your website greener?

Bookmark our handy collection of resources, articles, links and tools:

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