Sustainability at Borderless

The climate crisis is an acute threat to our modern world, which is why environmental issues are a key consideration for Borderless. As a small company / micro business, we’re committed to sustainable design and development as a guiding principle across our work. Our aim is to reduce the impact on the environment from our operations and to ensure our planet’s future is an integral and fundamental part of projects and people we choose to work with.

What we do currently…

Travel

98% of the time we walk to work every day. It’s easy, and a lovely thing to do as the office is at the top of the garden. When we work as a collective – we utilise tools like Teams, Zoom, Meet, Skype and the good old fashioned telephone to keep in touch with partners, consultants and clients. When we do need to travel, we tend to use rail as it also means we can get more work done but on occasion – mainly as we’re based in the middle of nowhere – we do use the car or take the bus! And while the car is a big old beast, she’s Euro 6 ULEZ compliant and has AdBlue added to her tank to reduce the release of NOx gases down to 80 – 168 mg/km and qualifies for the lower band of vehicle tax rates, so she’s not 100% evil.

Green space

We have a veg patch and greenhouse enabling us to grow our own salads and vegetables, and whenever possible we water using rainwater that we collect naturally and store. We always try to work in harmony with the soil and utilise a mix of permaculture and natural gardening principles and work with the phases of the Moon. We adore John Harris’ book on A Lifetime of Gardening by the Phases of the Moon and would highly recommend it as a read. It’s actually well researched with a clear evidence-base, similar to our rigorous approach for UXD!

Being based at the foot of the South Downs, part of the national park, means we have access to heaps of green space and beautiful rare chalk downland – also dubbed: ‘The European equivalent of a tropical rainforest’. We’re in the process of re-wilding our hedgerows, growing dedicated wildflower areas, and returning some of our green spaces back to traditional Sussex Downland to invigorate local biodiversity. So far we’ve been successful in encouraging: Red Campion, Hedge Garlic, Round-headed Rampion, Meadow Clary, Sheeps Fescue, Yarrow, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Yellow Kidney Vetch, Scabious, Wild Thyme and orchids such as Burnt and Common Spotted. All of which provide valuable food and shelter to many species of unique chalk downland fauna. There’s a range of trees that grow across the site such as ash, but we’re particularly proud to host a couple of beautiful 2-300 year old veteran beech trees, which can commonly be found across the chalk ridges of the South Downs. There’s also a row of common lime trees which are regularly pollarded for both health and kindling.

Fauna

We’ve created a space that can attract a menagerie of birdlife including Skylark, Jay, Yellowhammer, Song Thrush, Green and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Wren, House Sparrow, Starlings, Great, Long-tailed and Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird and Goldfinch. And you can also expect to see Raven, Kestrel, Buzzard and Red Kite gliding overhead at any time of year. Alongside our resident Tawny owls who can be heard duetting their ‘twit twoo’ during mating season. The wildflower areas also attract a whole host of butterflies including the rare Adonis Blue, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Brimstone and some moths too such as Scarce Forester. We also have Serotine Bats, a whole host of wild rabbits, Badger, Fox, Pheasant, (one particularity handsome pheasant named Phillip!) Roe and Muntjac deer visiting the gardens throughout the seasons. We work with our resident wildlife guru an award-wining wildlife photographer, filmmaker and naturalist, David Plummer who advises on all aspects of our wildlife and rewilding journey.

Community

We support our local village hall (please note, not and never the Church Hall!) in the capacity of treasurer and digital marketing officer. In 2021, we helped them to install solar panels and energy-efficient lighting. Other success stories include, devising a stable income stream that has seen bookings and turnover increase by 71% since we developed their new website with a clear SEO strategy. And we’ve also successfully applied for, and brought in over £80k’s worth of funding to enhance and future-proof the space for future generations.

Recycling and office waste

As a 100% digital-first business, we generate very little physical waste. We recycle everything we can and operate a 99% paperless office, as everything is stored in the cloud – other than the odd notebook here and there. On the rare occasion we have any, all of our food waste is turned into compost for the gardens. And due to the number of trees we have on site, in the autumn, we collect the fallen leaves to generate mountains of leaf mould to enrich our soil.

Energy consumption

We’ve always used green energy suppliers, we’re currently with Octopus Energy, whose electricity comes from 100% renewable sources like sun, wind, and water. We’ve done the most we can to ensure our workspace is energy-efficient, by installing triple glazing and using Passivhaus principles where possible.

During the winter months, as we’re not on gas mains in the studio, we do run a DEFRA-approved, Charnwood Aire 3 Eco 3kw wood burning stove, which also complies with Ecodesign laws. While we know isn’t ideal, we try to mitigate this by only ever using wood with a moisture content value of 18% or lower from a local, sustainable source and the majority of our kindling comes from pollarding our trees, coppicing or fallen branches.

For work, disaster recovery and backup cloud storage, we tend to use DropBox, who we know while they’re not squeaky clean, are making a range of commitments to improve their data centres and power usage effectiveness. And unlike other file sharing providers, they also utilise a process called block-level file copying, which means only the changes you make are ever pushed to the server, rather than making continuous calls for all local files. And you can choose exactly which files you wish to sync regularly freeing up memory and hard drives to focus on the same things our business is at any given time.

Pensions

Our pension scheme is provided by Nutmeg, and we have aligned our investment strategy with socially responsible investing – our pot’s overall ESG is 8.0/10.

Sustainability and our work

We use good design principles

With all of our projects we always try to integrate the following principles to ensure lower server loads and efficiency by considering the following:

  • whether the website’s content and design has used colour, imagery and film efficiently and to add genuine value and not just garnish
  • whether the UI design used the minimum number of custom fonts
  • if the experience respects user privacy and provides clear guidelines for maintaining it
  • that the user journeys have been planned to help the user achieve their goals efficiently
  • that the digital product or service design process accounts for humans and includes fully featured accessibility requirements
  • whether the project promotes good health and wellness or could be adapted to improve mental well-being or reduce cognitive loads for users
  • whether the content is easy to find, accessible and actionable – where appropriate

With our development partners we strive to

  • ensure the digital product or service is safe and secure, and avoids tracking user behaviour and collecting data unnecessarily
  • encourage our digital development partners follow web standards for both best practice and accessibility and we advise using open-source principles wherever possible
  • try to ensure that the hosting provider selected / recommended, is powered by renewable energy and that they have solid environmental policy in place. Currently we tend to recommend either SiteGround or one of our key partners, BrightMinded utilise renewable hosting via DigitalOcean from their London datacentre
  • ensure that any hosting located as close as possible to the core user base or uses a CDN and that it runs the latest tech stack
  • aim to ensure that server-side caching or static technology is in place to minimise server load

Our future action plan means that:

  • we aim to always promote good design and UX principles to help reduce both the cognitive load on humans but also the impact on servers used for web hosting
  • consider the ethical and environmental impact of AI within our projects
  • promote responsibility for the environment within our work where appropriate
  • reduce the use of energy, water and other resources
  • minimise waste by reduction, re-use and recycling methods
  • comply with relevant environmental legislation / regulation whenever possible
  • encourage partners to commit to sustainable design and development philosophies
  • identify and attend appropriate training, and keep up-to-date with current thinking, advice and information for businesses
  • develop new ideas and initiatives

We’re in great company

Some of our substantiality and environmental clients we’re proud to have worked with over the years, and who’s work we support in the impact they’re making the world:

Accountability Framework – the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFi) is a collaborative effort to build and scale up ethical supply chains for agricultural and forestry products.

British Ecological Society – who are working towards a world in which nature and people thrive.

FLOCERT – as the global certification body for Fairtrade, FLOCERT is on a mission to assure fairness. They offer an array of services to support companies in sourcing on Fairtrade principles, where no Fairtrade Standard applies.

NHS – Sussex Community Trust Care Without Carbon project – an award-winning project design to create NHS workforce behaviour change towards the environment.

Pukka Herbs – create award-winning organic herbal teas and supplements and provide expert wellbeing advice as part of their sustainability mission.

Sedex – supply data-driven insights, tools, and services to help companies continuously improve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes.

WWF-UK – are the world’s leading independent conservation organisation. Their mission is to create a world where people and wildlife can thrive together.

ZSL – is a global science-led conservation organisation helping people and wildlife live better together to restore the wonder and diversity of life everywhere.