Sustainability for Freelancers and Translators.

Updated: May 5


What do you think of when you hear the word 'sustainability'?

Do you see green forests, the recycling logo, or the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?



Have you thought about sustainability more in the last year?


If you have, then you’re not alone. 70% of consumers said that reducing their own impact on the environment was more important because of the outbreak of Covid-19.


Read on for hints and tips on how to become more sustainable in an easy and manageable way.

Having moved to a full time 'working from home' position in the translation industry in the last year, the topic of sustainability has really fallen under the spotlight for me. I must admit that I have a bit of a head start in this industry, as I have a fairly extensive background in sustainability, having worked for James Cropper PLC, a responsible leader in the pulp and paper industry. James Cropper puts sustainability at the forefront of their business and has blazed a trail in helping the mass market drink their takeaway coffees without having to answer to their conscience, all thanks to their CupCycling initiative (read more here - seriously!).



As senior Russian translator and business owner of The Native Crowd, I believe that everyone has a responsibility to look at how they live and work and how they can have a positive impact on the environment. Although sustainability has gained a great deal of press coverage in recent years and is in the public eye more than ever, there is still a tendency for us to buy a bar of shampoo, use a refillable cleaning product and hope that that is enough. There is often an assumption that real results will only come when large industry leaders, such as James Cropper, get involved.


Covid-19 gave the environment an unexpected new lease of life, however now that things are slowly improving with the introduction of vaccines, the importance of behaving sustainably, both at an individual and business level, has increased.


Here in the UK, the government has created the Green Homes Grant to help motivate people to make more sustainable choices. If you’re a translator or freelancer in the UK, it's well worth having a look to see if you’re eligible.



So let’s start with a few easy changes to help you jump on the sustainability bandwagon.


  • Adjust the brightness on your monitor – not only will it help the environment, your eyes will thank you too!

  • Use refillable make-up and cleaning products.

  • Try to buy fewer fast fashion items. Instead, go for quality and longevity.

  • Reduce paper usage – only print what you need.

  • Adjust your thermostat. Buy an energy efficient thermostat and save yourself up to 10% on your heating bill a year.

  • Unplug your devices when they aren’t in use – defeat your vampire appliances!

But what if you want to have more of an impact on the environment as a freelancer?

I have addressed my sustainability choices by looking at what I use most of, on a day-to-day basis. For me, this means things such as lighting & heating, internet usage & data storage, banking services, mobile phone providers and search engines. As a first step to understanding where you can make the most difference, analyse your daily activities as a translator or freelancer and find out where you spend most of your time.


The idea is not to become so overwhelmed with how many things you must change that you throw in the towel on sustainability, but to make small changes once in a while, that really add up over time.


Heating & Electricity


Your radiators and lighting options can quickly and quietly drain both your money and your green credentials. You can look into slightly more labour-intensive options here, such as improving your house/office insulation or exploring different heating options. Or, you can take easier and quicker steps such as using ethical energy suppliers, greener energy tariffs, or smart controls for your home. Click on the list of useful links below for more information.


Data Usage & Storage


Did you know that each email has its own carbon footprint?

Each email, google search, social media post and file is stored in a data centre. The data centres required today are so large that their energy usage and emissions account for roughly 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is a similar share to the aviation industry. Let that sink in. Just think how many files and emails are unnecessarily stored or duplicated on your computer. Some email history is imperative to keep of course, however some really isn’t. Have a think and see if you can establish a system for clearing out your deleted items, archives, or sent list every 6 months or every year. The planet will thank you for it.


If you’d like to read more on this particular topic, the below article gives some really interesting statistics to help you understand the scale of the issue.


https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/25/server-data-centre-emissions-air-travel-web-google-facebook-greenhouse-gas


Internet & Mobile Phone Providers


While we’re on the subject of the internet, there are a few options for search engines and mobile phone providers which can help the environment every time you click.

Let’s take Ecosia as an example. Ecosia is a search engine which ‘uses the ad revenue from your searches to plant trees where they are needed most.’ They are more than CO2 neutral because each search request removes 1kg of CO2 from the atmosphere and they are completely transparent as a business.


Other Green internet and mobile phone providers you can look into:


Ethical Banking & Investment options


The great majority of freelancers have a good grasp on their finances. Working for yourself means you have to concentrate on all areas of a business (finances, marketing, etc.), rather than just your advertised job role. Your savings and even the banks you use, can help you achieve your personal sustainability goals, rather than just taking care of your assets.




The above information represents some of the options open to freelancers and translators, such as ourselves. The key is to take it one step at a time. It’s easy to look at an article such as this and decide that it’s too much work or that you don’t have the time, and that’s why breaking it up into manageable chunks is critical.

The next time you need to renew your electricity or mobile phone provider, have a quick look for green alternatives and you may find a viable alternative that you didn’t know existed and that allows you to do your bit for the environment.


Be a sustainable leader in your industry!


If you have any tips or advice on this topic, I’d love to hear from you here.

To read more of this kind of material or if you would like to speak to someone experienced in the sustainability sector, who can help you with translation (Russian, German, or Dutch), localisation, or proofreading, please click here to see a list of my services and get in touch today.


Thanks for reading!

Marjolein, The Native Crowd

Russian, German, Dutch Translation

Cumbria, North West, UK





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