In the rather limited field of my personal activity, I endeavour to respect the environment to the greatest possible extent: by "greatest possible extent", I mean without living in an unheated shack, making every journey on foot, and only eating things I find as I go.
While I am fully aware of the contradictions innate in trying to be "green", maintain a good standard of living, and be a productive economic actor in the Western world, I feel that the answer to these contradictions is not to throw my hands up in the air and do nothing.
So here are some of the things I do to reduce the environmental impact of my professional activity. If you are thinking of working with me, it could be useful to read through them so as to know what to expect.
- I try to avoid flying
Although I haven't been on an airplane since 2005, I do have clients in Stockholm and Madrid. I don't "get flown in for the day", though. If you're booking me either for reporting or consultancy, please bear in mind that I might not be available on your timescale: then again, please also bear in mind that Paris, London, and Stockholm are all less than 10 hours away from Hamburg by train and that I have a German CO2-neutral network card and will travel.
I do not own a car (or even have a driving licence), so I travel locally by public transport or bike where practicable. Disclosure: I tend to need to travel by taxi on average ten to twelve times a year, and do not always turn lifts down on a point of principle.
- I use green energy where possible
My workspace in Hamburg is powered by Lichtblick's green electricity package. I understand that this doesn't mean there's a wind-turbine somewhere with "Brian Melican Industries" written on it (although that would be pretty sweet...), but the money I pay for my electricity does go to financing more green energy generation capacity.
In any case, energy that isn't consumed doesn't need to be generated at all, so I invest in energy-efficient equipment and switch off all electronic devices overnight. I am also trying to reduce my use of search engines by using favourites and bookmarks (this has added 90s retro charm) and keep as much of my data as possible stored on my computers or on external hard-drives to avoid emissions caused by (what are, in my case, unnecessary) remote storage solutions.
Unfortunately, our building uses gas for heating and, until second or third-generation biofuels are available which aren't based on consumable foodstuffs, I won't be using "green" energy to keep cosy; my workspace is heated to 18°C.
- I don't work for airlines, oil companies, or
climate-change-denying lobbying organisations
Yep, my services as a translator or copywriter have been requested by all three. I have, however, worked for subcontractors of various car companies and German government ministries with often questionable environmental policies. Make of that what you will. My feeling is that I have to draw the line somewhere, and that while car companies are making some efforts, however paltry, towards reducing carbon emissions, oil companies are making precisely none. It's contradictory, but it's a start.
Conversely, if you represent a company with a good environmental track record, or if you want me to report on matters relating to the environment, you can rest assured that I take ecological concerns very seriously and enjoy working to increase their profile.
If you have any comments or questions about how concern for the environment affects the way I work, please use the contact function on this website.