5 ways you can be more sustainable as a freelancer

As part of Stress Awareness Month, IPSE is promoting the ways that the self-employed can maintain a positive work-life balance and alleviate stress

While eco-anxiety continues to evolve along with the effects of climate change on our environment, it’s never been a more important time for freelancers to adopt and incorporate sustainable practices.

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By encompassing sustainable practices within your business, you will contribute towards directly improving the environment and ultimately reduce stress on your finances, peers and the planet. 

Follow our simple guide on how you can make your business more sustainable. 

1. Work out what your carbon footprint is

Working alone in the solitude of a home office, it can be easy as a freelancer to accidentally underestimate the impact of your business on the environment. 

Before working out how you can be more sustainable as a freelancer, it’s a good idea to work out what your current carbon footprint looks like. There are a myriad of apps and websites that can help you calculate this, including WWF’s official My Footprint app, Pawprint and Earthly.

These tools will usually require you to complete some sort of questionnaire where you’ll be asked about your lifestyle habits including diet, travel and various elements that may contribute to your carbon footprint. Following completion of the questionnaire, these apps will tell you exactly how and where you need to take action to reduce your carbon footprint.

2. Use secondhand furniture in your office

Creating a home office can be an expensive feat, although with the help of second-hand finds you can furnish your space for a fraction of the financial and environmental cost.

You can find a variety of second-hand furniture for your office via charity shops like the British Red Cross, Oxfam, Crisis, or Trinity Hospice to name a few, however you can also locate your local charity and thrift shops and enjoy exploring new finds for your working space. Not only will you cut your carbon emissions and save money, but the money you do spend will be going towards supporting a greater cause. 

3. Go Paperless

There are a plethora of practical and easy-to-use digital apps that can help you cut down your emissions by making simple switches and going paperless. 

To replace that pile of sticky notes on your desk with vibrant virtual sticky notes and useful project planning tools you can use apps like Miro and Trello. You’ll also be able to have a digital paper trail all in one place. 

Another useful paperless tool for your business is taking a look at your banking system. Tide is a practical, paperless banking tool that focuses on creating a user-friendly digital experience for its business customers online and through its app. The tools and services that come with a Tide account can help freelancers manage their business, will save you time and you’ll also be helping the planet. 

Even your search engine activity can help contribute to a richer ecosystem. Ecosia is a free search engine that plants trees with every search you make online. By using Ecosia as your default search tool, you’ll play a part in helping a healthier environment. 

Our favorite apps to help you go paperless: 

4. Stock your office with eco-friendly tools

There are many small adjustments you can make to your working space to reduce your carbon footprint. You can start by using up what you already have in your office space, and as you continue to use up your office items, you can replace them with eco-friendly alternatives.

For example, you can replace your disposable plastic pens with a refillable equivalent. Another eco-friendly tool can be an external hard drive, which you can use for large documents instead of creating piles of paper print-outs that wind up in the recycling bin. 

If you have a product-based business, making sustainability a priority for your packages and products is the future. You can use natural or recycled materials that are sourced in a way that is ethical and kind to the planet.

When it comes to shipping your items you can avoid mixing materials and provide clear disposal instructions for your customers so they know what to do with their packing materials after they’ve been opened. 

5. Write a sustainability policy 

Once you’ve taken some time to gain a clearer perspective on the landscape of sustainability and the part that your business as a freelancer can play in it, why not create a statement? 

This will help regulate the way you work towards a greater mission of sustainability and could even help widen the scope of your clients and secure future work.

It doesn’t need to be something extremely thorough to start with; like many elements within sustainability, it's an ongoing process and you can develop it as your practices as a sustainable freelancer continue to grow.

Meet the author

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Orla Lyons-Hamilton

Freelance Marketing Executive