Green Hosting News

Clients doing amazing things part 3

28th Jan 2021

When I first started writing these posts back in March 2020 about the wonderful things our clients were doing to adjust to lockdown I never imagined that we would be in the same position again this January. However, here we are and our clients are still amazing us with their creativity, tenacity and kindness...

PIctures of the 12 clients and their products featured in the 'Clients doing amazing things part 3' article

#EthicalHour published their #ShopEthicalInstead impact report from the campaign they ran in November 2020. #ShopEthicalInstead is the antithesis of Black Friday, raising up businesses that care about people and the planet and encouraging shoppers to reject the wastefulness that comes with big brands' 'bargains' that aren't really much of a bargain at all. No spoilers but I will say it was a great success!

Rob Bartlett launches his new and frankly genius planet friendly icon set. Coined by Rob, it is in fact the world’s first Econography set and is a true example of a honed craft resulting in this incredibly thoughtful, functional and ethical artwork.

Little Green Space announced the creation of their book Ecopreneurship - to help businesses that wish to protect our environment, to communicate their achievements and tell authentic stories through design.

Plastic Free Party Bags have adapted their business to work around covid. Many of us are missing parties right now, especially children, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop. You can still buy Fairtrade and vegan gifts, toys and even pre-filled party bags to keep the enjoyment going at home.

Conservation Through Public Health talk to their founder and CEO Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, a veterinarian, an epidemiologist and a health worker, about her important role especially during this time of the pandemic. CTPH is a non-profit organisation improving the health and quality of life of people living near protected areas of Africa, so that they can peacefully coexist with the wildlife, notably the gorillas in Uganda. This truly is trailblazing work for people and for the natural world and it is a joy to read Dr Gladys' words.

Katie from Cocoon published her top 24 eco zines to add to your reading list. Not only that, if you visit the Cocoon Instagram channel you will find lots of useful marketing tips and ideas.

Paint It Yourself Pottery have kept us smiling with their weekly 'Star Painter' competition and importantly are now providing paint at home kits so that pottery needs can still be met whilst the shop is closed to the public.

Besma from Curiously Conscious has gathered her years of research and writing to create this huge list of the best 150+ Sustainable fashion brands in the UK. I don't know of any list more comprehensive that this and Besma really knows her stuff!

Wicked Weather Watch are researching to develop a Net Zero Toolkit which will help schools who have declared a climate emergency. If you're a teacher or parent/carer of children at primary school level, perhaps you could help them out.

Anja Löbert announced her plans to open a nature retreat in the UK. Anja describes how this long time dream will be turned into reality and paints a really beautiful picture of the plans for this special place, to be named Wild Owl. Anja is looking for people to be involved in building all aspects of the retreat, so do check out the post and get in touch if it sounds like something you'd love to do.

Claire Blackie helps us to deal with anxiety using aromatherapy, with guidance on how to use the best essential oils for calm. Whilst she is unable to provide treatments to clients Claire is also hosting a range of online workshops on how to use aromatherapy for wellbeing.

Corrine at Ethical Sales provides a detailed exploration of the top B2B Sales trends of 2021 for ethical businesses. If you're running a purpose driven business then it is definitely worth checking out these thoughts for the coming year.

Green Hosting Clients

Let us share your good news! Tell us what you've been doing to adjust to life in lockdown 3, any achievements you'd like to share, new products or services or even hopes and dreams for the future. You're the reason why we do what we do and we are continually blown away by what we learn from you.

Reducing digital exclusion in online content creation

30th Oct 2020

Website owners and content creators are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of our digital lives. But what about the social impact? It’s not always about what you’re saying online that has implications, how you say it matters too. The reason for this is because not all web users have the same access to online information and resources. Low connection speeds, limited data allowances and disability can mean that some people are excluded from certain content. It is important to know if your content is helping or hindering.

What type of content excludes users?

Slow-loading websites which have not been optimised for efficiency and contain unnecessarily large photos, videos and files can cause problems for website visitors with low connection speeds and limited data. Working through all of those heavy web pages uses up data allowances and some visitors may run out of time or resources before they reach what they really need.

Accessibility and inclusion online are vital for disabled people. Some websites and website content can cause real problems for disabled website users and the assistive technology they might employ whilst online. It is now a legal requirement in the UK for public sector websites to be built and managed in a way that is accessible for disabled users. We have been building websites this way for many years (because why wait for the law to tell you not to discriminate?) and much of what is involved is technical. However, there are ways to manage and publish your website content that makes sure it is accessible to disabled people.

Why digital inclusion is important

  • People on lower incomes anywhere in the world are more likely to be using services with low connection speeds and reduced data allowances.
  • Some households may be sharing a device between several people, which spreads data resources even more thinly.
  • People with disabilities may have a greater need to access online services because physical or face-to-face services are not accessible to them.
  • Shopping online has been found to be 13% cheaper than shopping in-store. This can make a huge difference for people on lower incomes.
  • Now more than ever people are more reliant on online communication with family and friends. Their data is probably best used for a chat with a loved one than streaming an embedded video.
  • Not being able to access the Internet fully means that it is harder for people to develop essential skills in today’s world. This, in turn, causes further negative effects in all areas of life including health, social isolation, education and jobs outcomes. As Good Things Foundation explain; Those who are already at a disadvantage through age, education, income, disability, or unemployment are those who are most likely to be missing out, further widening the social inequality gap.

How can website owners and content creators make a difference?

Be mindful of the things we post online. Take some time to learn about what it means to optimise your website and what makes it accessible or inaccessible to disabled people. There may be things that only your web designer can address but there are certainly ways in which you can manage other aspects, especially your content:

  • Re-size and reduce the file size of photographs before publishing them to your website. Photographs shouldn’t be uploaded directly from the camera several thousand pixels wide and at print quality DPI. Firstly re-size them appropriately for their use (header image, gallery photo, thumbnail etc) and make sure they are suitable for screen PPI, no more. Pic Monkey has some useful guides on optimising photographs for print and for the web.
  • If you’re using WordPress for your website remove idle plugins. Even plugins which aren’t in use will load with the rest of the website, like a digital rubbish bag weighing you down.
  • Video is the most data-hungry of all online content. Is a video necessary when text would quickly and easily get the message across?
  • Does your content get to the point? Does a website visitor have to go through other marketing information before getting to what they really need?
  • Add ‘Alt text’ to your images – These are descriptions of images for visitors who cannot see them but may be read by assistive technology. The facility to add Alt text should be built into your website editor.
  • Don’t use images to convey text information. Text reader software cannot access this and make it available to the website user. If you do put informative text inside an image, add this as actual text too.
  • Use accessible, contrasting colours for backgrounds and foregrounds, especially if the foreground colour is to be used in text. Some colours are not contrasting enough to be accessible to people with vision impairment. Here is a useful colour contrast checker tool.
  • Always provide transcripts with video or audio content for deaf or hearing impaired people.
  • Use headings to create content structure and never for decoration. Headings used appropriately (i.e. heading 1 first, followed by heading 2s and so on) are useful for non-visual users to skip through your content quickly to find what they need. If headings are used purely because the larger text looks nice and not to form a structure then this will be unhelpful and cause the content to be inaccessible.
  • Put link text in context. When creating links, instead of creating the link using just the word ‘here’, add the link to text which describes what the link is for – e.g. ‘see our calendar of events here’. Again, this helps visitors who are using tools to skip through content to easily find exactly what they need.

These are just a few examples of things all content creators, publishers and managers can do to support digital inclusion. Optimising a photograph may seem like a small thing to do, but like all actions of individuals, collectively they can make a huge difference. The best thing about these changes is that not only do they have social benefits but they have environmental ones too and they improve your SEO! Search engines much prefer quicker, well optimised, well structured websites. It’s a win-win situation all round.

There are wider and more complex details in the design and development of websites but these are for your web designer to address.

Below are some useful resources if you’d like to read up on these topics further:

Making the Web Accessible – The World Wide Web Consortium, Web Accessibility Initiative

ONS – Exploring the UKs digital divide

Good Things Foundation

The Guardian - Digital divide 'isolates and endangers' millions of UK's poorest

GOV.UK - Making online public services accessible

Android Central - How much mobile data does streaming media use?

Wikipedia - List of countries by Internet connection speeds

Raising a glass to 16 years of business

1st Oct 2020

Over at our Make Hay website we are celebrating 16 years since we founded our ethical web design business. That's where it all started. A year later we began our Green Hosting service and it has been a great journey that we hope will continue alongside all of the wonderful people we have met and collaborated with through the years.

Pop over to our blog post where we raise a glass and highlight the positive things we feel thankful for in these very strange times.

Three simple self-care habits for social entrepreneurs

19th May 2020

We all know that being an entrepreneur is hard. I believe there’s added pressure in our social business space because we have priorities beyond profit and assume a level of responsibility for various problems in the world that we’re working to resolve. We feel strongly about the causes we support and often worry that we’re not doing enough. We may need to tactfully navigate those who deride or disagree with our aims and we may have to work harder to prove our worth in our industry. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, right?

Puppy in a field in the sunshine

If we don’t establish self-care practices it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain our energy, care and joy in what we do and at worse we can become exhausted, despondent and sick. From my experience of running an ethical business for a long time I’ve learned that little fixes to make us feel better can be lovely but they don’t provide the longevity of setting in some positive habits. As an entrepreneur you can be sure that things will go wrong, there will be stress and there will be long, tiring hours. It isn’t always possible to avoid that, but we can head off the nasty effects before they creep up. The trick is to look after ourselves consistently so that we’re better placed to tackle challenges when they arise.

So, here are three simple tried and tested (by me) ways I implement self-care. They aren’t fancy, they aren’t expensive, they don’t need (much) extra time and attention.

Connecting with Nature

This basically means going outdoors and getting up close and personal with trees and plants. Spending time in the natural environment is now widely recognised and credited as being beneficial for our wellbeing. Some GPs in the UK are now ‘prescribing’ this to support mental good health.

Those in the know about therapeutic horticulture say that the restorative and calming effects of being with nature is increased when combined with an activity, like tending to plants. For me this has double benefits because it helps assuage anxiety about climate change and damage to our natural world by providing a soothing pastime as well as a means of doing something about it. Growing plants to eat reduces food miles and plastic waste, growing plants for pollinators supports biodiversity – it’s a win-win!

“Another thing to do?!” I hear you cry. Yes, I accept that growing plants might feel like just adding another job to the ever-growing list. So of course, if even the thought of it induces more stress then just take little time to enjoy being in nature instead. I do this by going for a walk every day, sometimes to the woods and sometimes to the local park but each time it helps clear my head and bring about a sense of calm.

Establishing a Routine

OK, don’t laugh. I know how ridiculous this might sound when you’re working early in the morning before school runs and late into the evening, juggling your job, your family and the many other commitments that life demands. However, I truly believe that routines can have magical powers.

When I talk about routine I don’t necessarily mean a rigidly set out day where certain tasks are carried out at an exact time. No, life just isn’t like that. I mean making sure the essentials are met, like eating lunch at a sensible time and moving your body as well as instilling habits that help you feel a sense of achievement every day. 

The whole eating lunch and moving around thing might seem absurdly obvious but in the early days of our business it would be more common than not for us to sit at our desks from first thing in the morning, not even think about lunch and emerge in the evening light headed and drained. As if taking an hour’s break out of all of that time would have been detrimental to our business! Does anyone else do this? If so, please reconsider. This is absolutely not sustainable, doesn’t necessarily mean that more work is done and can ultimately lead to burn out.

Being productive and being busy are two completely different things and #EthicalHour have some useful courses on how to implement work patterns that ensure more is done in the same amount of time. Whether its prioritising high-yield vs low-yield tasks, using Fridays to plan the week ahead or bulking jobs together, these routines bring more value to the time you spend and a feeling of accomplishment that makes it easier to walk away at the end of the day.

Checking in With My Sense of Humour

As social entrepreneurs we’re driven by making the world a better place. Inevitably, this means that to address the issues we’re working to alleviate we have to face some very upsetting truths. It could be about climate change, deforestation, poverty, inequality, exploitation or animal cruelty and and at the moment with the pandemic added issues closer to home and globally. These can lead to us becoming anxious, stressed and low.

Not hiding from the negative and painful things in the world makes me all the more grateful for the positive things I have in my life and most definitely puts a lot into perspective. Being able to laugh at myself and insignificant problems is possibly the most important habit for me. It stops me from grumbling about the little things and makes me feel generally more content and equipped to think about the bigger picture. If I feel tempted to have a little moan about something small I try to remember to check in with my sense of humour and laugh it off instead.

One of the best things we did for our business

16th Apr 2020

We joined the #EthicalHour community* back in 2017 and in our sixteen years of being in business it is one of the best things we ever did.

In 2004 when we first started out, running a business with a purpose was kind of lonely. There were some amazing colleagues and organisations that we looked up to and connected with but the world was a very different place back then and not everyone ‘got it’ and not everyone was supportive. Back then, belonging to a network of entrepreneurs who shared a vision of a kinder, greener world and having access to relevant marketing support and business expertise would have been amazing. Thankfully, now we do.

#EthicalHour logo

#EthicalHour isn’t just for start-ups. As an established business we have gained such a lot from being members. Here are some of the ways that #EthicalHour has benefitted our business:

More clients

Simply by being part of a community who want to tread as lightly on the planet as possible we meet new clients who need our website hosting services. Often those clients recommend us to others too. Together we are making a move towards a more environmentally friendly internet.

Networking opportunities

I’m not aware of another single online space where you can meet as many ethical business owners and industry experts from all over the world. It is a genuinely friendly, no-judgement place where it’s OK to ask questions and seek help no matter where you are in your business journey.

Learning and business support

If one thing is true about being an entrepreneur it’s that you never stop learning. #EthicalHour’s online resources cover a huge range of topics including productivity, getting the most out of social media platforms, embedding values in your business, self care, making an impact and lots more.

What does #EthicalHour membership provide?

For £20 per month, you will get:

  • Exclusive talks and Q&A sessions with industry leading experts
  • Access to a library of over 22 hours of premium video training on marketing, personal branding, productivity and self care, to help you become a thought leader and grow your business
  • New live training on different marketing and business growth topics every month
  • Coaching questions, thought prompts and support inside our member’s only Facebook Group
  • A monthly competition to win free a coaching and publicity package worth over £300!
  • A listing on our Member’s Map so you can find members in your local area and connect when you’re travelling
  • A listing on our Impact Pledge Wall, where you can see everyone’s mission for change in one place and connect with like-minded people
  • Access to our list of trusted suppliers so you can find business support quickly and easily
  • Peer support, networking and facilitated introductions to like-minded changemakers

#EthicalHour provides amazing mutual support and information but its big aim is to help ethical brands break out into the mainstream and have a real impact on the way all business is done. It’s so exciting to be a part of this!

Find out more about #EthicalHour membership here.

*Disclosure - The links to Ethical Hour in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you we may earn commission if you purchase Ethical Hour membership as a result of following one of these links. We are indeed fully paid members of the #EthicalHour community and all of the above is true and genuine.

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