Greener freelancing

Last month Bridget McKenzie guest-hosted a Museum Freelance chat on Twitter on the topic of ‘green’ freelancing.

Bridget is the director of Flow Associates and founder of Climate Museum UK, a mobile museum creatively stirring response to climate emergency and Everyday Ecocide which exposes ecoblindness, erasure of other species and climate denial in media and culture.

We only scratched the surface in the 45 minutes on Twitter, but it felt like a good start to get a conversation going.

Some examples of green freelancing practice people raised were:

  • Lyndsey Clark gives all her old IT to Edinburgh Remakery which sells recycled and upcycled second hand IT equipment and furniture and teaches repair and reuse skills.
  • Marge Ainsley sharing that she knows people who use MindMeister (an online mapping tool) to organise ideas and support facilitated discussions with a group.
  • Hilary Jennings wears lots of layers when working from home to save putting the heating on unnecessarily.
  • Esther Gill suggested that as freelancers we can raise the environmental impact of projects as standard across our work, for example adding a statement to reports and discussing green approaches.
  • Steve Slack has done a final project presentation to a client by Skype and Powerpoint remotely, which saved time and travel and worked well.
  • He also said he writes many reports and is concerned they get printed a lot, often unnecessarily, so always includes something like this:

Prompt in reports about whether printing the whole report is necessary

I also shared my travel kit to cut down on single-use plastic and packaging when eating and buying food out: reusable and insulated water bottles which keep water beautifully cold, insulated food container (keeps food hot / cold) and wooden reusable cutlery. I have a reusable mug on my Christmas wishlist …

Reusable bottles, cutlery and food pot for greener eating while travelling

A lot of participants mentioned taking public transport where possible but that in some rural areas in particular, public transport options can be non-existent or unfeasible so car driving becomes the default.

There were some interesting points raised about whether digital is the best alternative to travel – sometimes face-to-face meetings are necessary, and some clients have poor Internet connections making video calls and conferencing patchy and a poor alternative. However it was felt that more tender interviews could take place by video call and we could be encouraging clients to question the need for each proposed face-to-face meeting.

Whilst not many participating freelancers or consultants have been asked to set out their environmental policy at a pitching or proposal stage, I suggested that setting out what steps you take to be greener in your proposal could get a ball rolling on this and also serve to help set you apart.

My key takeaways were:

  1. Start now – start thinking, changing and doing now, and soon you’ll find you have new habits
  2. Share what you’re doing with other freelancer and clients / potential clients – this can hopefully inspire others and lead to a snowball effect
  3. Question things that could be made or done ‘greener’ – even if it’s not directly within your remit, get a conversation going
  4. Baby steps are better than no steps – and you can build on them e.g. moving from using paper, to recycling paper, to using recycled paper, to using less paper
  5. Think about all aspects of your practice – your office environment, what you buy, your travel, your approaches to projects, your advice and ideas to clients and more.

Additional links and resources:

Bridget wrote a blog post about the Twitter chat and more, with reflections about ‘greening’ her own business.

She has also started a Pinterest board with inspiration for green freelancing and facilitation.

You can also follow Bridget and her projects on Twitter:, and

Hilary Jennings shared resources from the Transition Network about working better together online.

I’d love to hear other ideas and learn about other resources on the topic of green freelancing – please join the conversation!



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