What the heck can tech companies do for a more sustainable future?
Brendan Binger
Founder & Design Director

It’s 2022 and we all see companies talk about reducing plastic waste, reducing water pollution, or becoming carbon neutral. We applaud those making big moves. But we certainly have moments of pessimism as well, especially when looking at the broken timeline to save our planet.

It’s late to adopt these policies, and they’re too small. And we often fear the true goal is—wait for it—feel-good marketing. Sometimes solutions that involve brown paper, biodegradable packing peanuts, and sustainably harvested palm oil let us off the hook too easily. It’s common to see unbleached wrapping or recycled materials and understand what efforts a company is making, get a shopping fix guilt-free, and then go on with our lives. Sometimes that works to calm our worry and make us feel we’ve done our part, but it definitely doesn’t cause the sweeping change we need. We know we can’t FIX the situation, but that isn’t going to stop us from doing everything we can.

Sustainability looks different for tech companies. Tech happens mostly in the background. A lot of people don’t think about what goes into the websites or apps we access daily—and yet, the world’s largest cryptocurrency alone boasts the same amount of carbon footprint per year as the Czech Republic. Digital impact may be harder to see, but it’s massive.

A simple reality is often taken for granted: technology consumes energy; and a lot of it.

Technology companies have been talking about Green ICT (information and communication technologies) for a long time now, but people still think mostly about the sources and final resting places of all of the hardware we use. (How many cell phones and laptops have you had in the past ten years?) There are many more amorphous implications for resource usage and climate change, such as increased energy consumption, methane emissions, and e-waste.

Many people don’t consider how the role of technology can both harm and support sustainability. Technology itself is essential for creating the most carbon-efficient systems, products, services, and innovations, but what can we do as one small company?

This Earth Day we want to talk about it. What we can do here at Quarry to get closer to net-zero and help our clients reach their own social and environmental goals?

Climate protection technology standards

We’re super excited to define and employ a set of standards for climate protection within our workflows that apply to every product, app, and digital experience that we work on. It’s basically a checklist that we run through during and after the engineering lifecycle of our projects. The goal is to find big opportunities to conserve energy. (plus anything we can do to approach web tech with the intention of climate protection!)

Minimizing the number of bytes in our projects is one of those things. Smaller sites use less energy and load faster as a result of lower data transfer, while also improving conversion rate. They’re also more accessible for those who do not yet have access to high-speed connections. Win-win!

There are other ways to optimize technology that reduce processing and conserve energy, too. Some of that has to do with efficient architecture planning. Over provisioning results in a baseline performance that will eat up more energy than is required. Under provisioning will cause resources to be utilized beyond their sweet spot for maximum energy efficiency resulting in excessive heat generation, throttling, and slow computation. This is an energy drain similar to an overheating motor.

We also try to use black pixels. In our initial research, our findings suggested that this was not a significant opportunity, but we have since found that the savings from dark mode accumulate over time and at scale. Screen energy is a smaller impact when compared to bytes shipped and processing power used, but if a large number of people are using dark mode or accessing products and user interfaces that are default dark for extended periods, the energy usage saved over time is quite significant! It’s a bit like turning off lights at home.

BCorp certification is on the way

We’re working hard on implementing even higher standards on how we take care of our collaborators, our social and environmental performance, as well as making our company more transparent than ever. That’s why we’re working to become a Certified B Corporation.

The BCorp certification measures a company’s entire social and environmental impact – from reducing waste all the way to being fair to employees. It’s a certification that envisions a global economy that uses business as a force for good – and that is fully aligned with our views as a business too.

It’s incredibly hard to know how to act in our world to reduce the harm we as human beings cause. This (in-depth) process of certification is revealing new ways to look at our business decisions and make darned sure that we take actions that are best for our clients, for our team, and for the earth, all at the same time. The BCorp certification steps have become a trustworthy map.

Being a do-gooder gets you 10% OFF

As much as we want to become a BCorp certified company that creates positive community and environmental ripples, we also want to reward the positive actions of our clients, and help them to sustain their impact and spread their influence. We want to subsidize positive social and climate impact within commerce.

That’s why we offer a 10% Impact discount to companies who:

  • are BCorp certified
  • have leadership primarily comprised of womxn or people of color
  • primary focus is on social and/or environmental justice efforts

Let us help you amplify your impact!

We’re remote. We’re digital. We’re service-oriented.

Those are easy-to-forget basics for us, but they play in here, too. Quarry was born remote – in fact, out of an RV. That means we have no offices (or paper, printers, and all that stuff) and none of our collaborators has to commute anywhere. We’re also service-oriented, only producing what is actually going out (digitally) into the world. There’s no extra, no waste. Our model is lean and clean. (Cleaner with Climate Protection Technology line items checked off!)

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the number of steps we need to take in order to become a more sustainable company – and thanks to innovation, it’s a never-ending process to keep up with. We’re grateful to have found some tools to help us navigate our small part of the puzzle.

Our changes aren’t big enough to save the planet on their own. But we’re keeping this top of mind and hope that we’re part of a snowball effect, one wave of a sea change in business that honors Earth. In the meantime, we’re going outside, taking deep breaths, and appreciating the sky, the trees, the flowers, and the rain. As long as it lasts.

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