We chat to Vineeta Greenwood about net zero web design

Green Tech South West is delighted to welcome Vineeta Greenwood, co-founder of the pioneering Wholegrain Digital agency, to talk about zero waste web design on Tuesday 22nd February.

Vineeta will share how we can use zero waste principles in web design, exploring the question why zero waste is a good way to go and how we can make this possible.

Vineeta co-founded Wholegrain Digital, a London-based WordPress agency that is a certified BCorp and 1% for the planet contributor. Wholegrain team crafts beautiful & fast websites that are user-friendly and naturally low in carbon emissions. Wholegrain Digital are also responsible for the popular website carbon calculator tool.

What led you to create Wholegrain Digital and it’s focus on zero waste web design?

Vineeta: Wholegrain Digital was created to help organisations communicate how they are mitigating climate change and improving human rights. So going back to why we are here, we want to make things easier for organisations and their users to access important data to change the world for better.

The focus for zero waste comes from the intention that we want to create something that adds value to the user. So if something doesn’t add value to the user, but is consuming data and energy and doesn’t really serve anybody’s interest, then it is an absolute waste. That’s why we focus on doing the most with the least and reducing waste out of our design and code to produce an excellent user experience and low carbon website.

How big a problem are heavy, polluting websites in their contribution towards climate change?

Vineeta: The problem is huge, larger than the aviation industry! Currently the internet is responsible for over 3% of the carbon emissions and is continuously rising due to our ever increasing need to stream music, stream tv, shop online and just browse the internet for social interactions.

Although streaming services are quite a significant portion of the problem, websites are a big part of this issue as well. We are a part of the solution, so let’s make the internet greener together! These carbon emissions are contributing towards climate change, and therefore we should do everything we can to reduce the impact of the work we put out in the world.

What changes have you seen with the number and types of businesses looking to reduce their web carbon emissions?

Vineeta: The world is changing fast. Individuals in businesses are taking the climate crisis seriously and making significant steps to reduce their carbon emissions. Businesses are measuring Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and putting measures in place to reduce their carbon footprint. Although it’s easy to feel frustrated by the pace of the change as compared to what’s needed, there is a change in attitude.

Businesses are considering using more renewable energy in their operations, and asking the questions related to sustainability internally but also to their suppliers.  In our case, we are starting to see a stream of clients asking not only about a good website, but in the brief they have started to mention sustainability and creating low carbon websites. We’re very pleased to be seeing this difference in the recent months.

Can you give us a sneak peak of the type of tools that you use?

Vineeta: Tools we use include websitecarbon.com to measure our work’s carbon emissions. To do the work we use a large number of tools such as Sketch for designing, our Granola framework for coding, H Harvest to track time we spend, forecast to check what resources we have within the business, Basecamp to manage our projects, lots of excel sheets to track things that matter, xero for invoicing, and google suite to store docs and Gmail for email.

What’s next for Wholegrain Digital?

Vineeta: Wholegrain will be 15 years old this March. We are at a stage where we can confirm that our team has taken charge. We are flat in our organisation structure from the outset but have gotten flatter as team members have come together to make their own decisions and take responsibility for it. Over the past 2 years we’ve embarked on a very special journey to become self-managed, i.e. all team members play a significant part in decision making of where we are going. In the next few years, this journey with continue, while we better the web, better the world while becoming a better version of ourselves.

Thank you Vineeta for the chat.

Vineeta will take the virtual stage at our meetup on Tuesday 22nd of February at 12.30pm.