5 tips for better business practice this Earth Day

22 Apr 2022 -

At Riot, we’re committed to being a sustainable business. We might be a small agency working in culture and entertainment – less culpable than some industries when it comes to carbon footprint – but that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. Collective action is real and impactful, so every business and individual has a responsibility to tackle the climate emergency and hold each other to account. 

As a values-led company, we’re proud to work with changemakers like environmentalist Dr Mya Rose-Craig (Birdgirl) and design critic Alice Rawsthorn (Design Emergency), and socially-responsible brands such as Moomin Characters and Rebel Girls. We’ve got a #RiotRecommends reading list with something for all tastes and ages, which you can see over on our Litalist Earth Day shelf

However, we’re fully aware that the sustainability journey needs constant reassessment and that there is always room for improvement. It can be difficult to know where to start, but we wanted to share a few of the high-impact changes we’ve implemented at Riot. We’d love to hear yours!

Switch banks
Every penny we spend is a vote for the type of world we want to live in, but what about the money sitting in our bank accounts? Much of the banking industry succeeds by investing customers’ savings into a variety of businesses, so it’s worth taking a closer look at where your bank is investing your money. For example, Barclays is the fifth biggest investor in fossil fuels in the world – if you bank with Barclays and believe we should be moving away from a fossil-fuel market, it’s worth taking your money elsewhere. In 2021, Riot switched its bank to Co-op, which is the UK’s highest rated street bank for ESG (environmental, social and governance).

If you’re unsure where your bank currently stands in its sustainability, start with this list from New Money on the top five ethical banks, and three to avoid. It’s also worth remembering that banks are some of the best organisations in the world at greenwashing, so take any ‘green values’ page on a bank’s website with a pinch of salt!

Look at your pension

As with banking, do you know where your pension is being invested? On average, every £10 put into a pension is contributing £2 to deforestation. Make My Money Matter is a campaign founded by film director Richard Curtis to encourage people to really look at their pensions and how that money is being used. Many pension providers offer ethical and sustainable pots, but these often aren’t the default, so it’s certainly worth exploring where yours is currently being invested, and change it if it doesn’t align with your values.

Riot uses the People’s Pension, which considers the environmental impact of its investments, specifically avoiding any companies who do not meet their minimum ethical criteria. Our employee pensions are currently weighted to favour low-carbon and ESG funds.

Change your shopping habits
Every individual and business is a consumer, but how often do you question exactly where your money is going when you purchase goods and services? Look into the sustainability and ethical practices of the companies you buy from, as they may not align with your or your company’s values. There are a wealth of options when it comes to buying everything, so it’s worth digging a little deeper to find out where your money is really going, and if there’s a better place you could be spending it.

As an organisation that often needs to order books, Riot has recently switched all of our book purchases over to Bookshop.org, which financially supports local, independent bookshops, and has just been awarded B Corp status.

Sometimes, donating to causes tackling climate change can be the most effective way of creating meaningful change. Organisations like GivingWhatWeCan have already done the hard work for us, and can guide any donations to the most impactful places.

Riot has recently signed up to regularly donate to Ecologi, a Gold-standard, BCorps organisation that funds carbon reduction projects all over the world.

Recycle more – but use it as a last resort
Thanks to initiatives like TerraCycle, almost everything is recyclable these days. Question how much you are sending to landfill and explore alternatives. Soft plastics are often taken at local supermarkets. Walkers has their own nationwide recycling scheme for crisp packets. It might take a little extra effort, but if every individual and business changed their mindset from disposable to reusable, we could make an enormous difference.

At Riot, we work in a building where 75% of our waste is recycled. We work closely with our building manager to ensure that our sustainability goals align, and our landlord is currently committed to reducing the building’s overall carbon emissions to align with the IPCC’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by 2030.

Just remember, recycling should always be a last resort in your sustainability plan. Reduce, re-use, recycle – in that order!

Illustration of Mya-Rose Craig © Julia Kuo.