How to run a sustainable freelance business

Amidst a world of greenwashing and empty promises from large corporations, the business world can be murky when it comes to sustainability. We’ve seen the big guys marketing nature campaigns, green promises and solutions to their gigantic carbon emissions (we’re looking at you Pepsi) and we know the importance of sustainable business.

Whilst sustainability is a buzzword at risk of overuse these days, we’ve popped together a handy guide on what you can do to make sure your freelance business is an ethical one that puts the planet first. Whether you’ve got a small team running things or you’re a one-man-band juggling all the plates, you can make changes to help the planet and yourself.

What is sustainability?

First up! What is sustainability? When it comes to sustainable business, it’s all about considering and prioritising the future of the planet and the people on it. Sustainable choices are those with the environment and community at their heart.


Why be sustainable? 

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Almost. Yes, you are one person, but as one of 2.2 million freelancers and small businesses in the UK, as a force you have a lot of clout for change.

Read on to find out what changes, big and small, you can make in your freelance business to become greener and more environmentally friendly.

Jessica Ferrow - whats your plan?


AT A GLANCE: How to make your business more sustainable

Choose an ethical bank like Triodos, The Cooperative Bank and Monzo, they all score highly on the Ethical Company Index Score.

Reduce paper consumption, it’s time to go digital, baby.

Choose working hours that fit with environmental choices. Avoid rush hour traffic and cycle into the office or your co-working space.

Use public transport for vital meetings, or alternatively avoid face-to-face meetings and use video conferencing where possible.

Choose recycled or refurbished electronics.

Work from public spaces rather than heat your home.

Make your daily choices of tea and coffee (and biscuits!) organic, rainforest alliance certified and sustainable.


Be the change 

Make a stand and work with other ethical businesses. Lift up and support those that have strong ethical values and watch them flourish! On meeting a new client or company for the first time, take some time to discover what they’re really like and whether their choices align with your own. If they don’t: don’t work with them. One step further is to partner with only businesses that are doing good in the world.

Build a community and support and work with other ethical freelancers in your sector and beyond. Encourage those starting out, offer guidance and advice to newcomers and shout about people who you think are great. By fostering a thoughtful and supportive community, only good things can happen and ethical businesses can thrive.


By donating your time or your money to worthwhile causes you’re propagating a sustainable, caring society. You could choose to donate a percentage of your annual profits to charities or non-profit organisations. If you aren’t in a position to give money, share your expertise with those that would benefit from your help, though may not be able to afford it.


Clock your carbon footprint 

Use an online carbon footprint calculator (there are a ton out there) to figure out your personal carbon emissions over a 12 month period. Knowledge is power, right? Once you know how your decisions are affecting the environment, you can make steps to reduce and improve.

Choose a green website

Websites are stored on servers and those servers use up energy. You can find out exactly how much by using a website carbon calculator and reduce the energy you use. Think smaller image sizes, strategic use of video and create a user interface that is easy to navigate. Wins all round.


Create a sustainability policy 

A sustainability policy helps you keep on track with your goals as well as declare them to the world. Display it loud and proud on your website and socials and allow everyone to see it and be inspired! It’s the perfect way to share your values and ways of working with potential clients and of course, to attract clients who work in the same way you do.

Your sustainability policy doesn’t have to be ginormous or shiny, creating a simple manifesto of how you are committed to positive, sustainable ways of working will suffice. Keep it short and sweet and display your commitment to a work in progress or think big with a five year plan, it’s up to you!

Take small steps to become a sustainable freelance business and play your part in ensuring the future of our planet.


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