How We Run an Ethical & Sustainable Design Agency

When we set up Kakadu Creative our friends told us we were mad.

Lee and I (Kayleigh) were both working for one of the biggest multi-national magazine publishers in the world and had built up strong careers and healthy salaries to boot. We were comfortable, life was easy and we had a secure future ahead. So why give all that up and risk the uncertainty of starting your own agency?

Well, we were unfulfilled and massively conflicted. It was hard to see what positive impact we were having on the world around us when in truth, our jobs were really all about making as much profit for the owners and shareholders as possible. Just getting a basic recycling system in place for the three-storey, 600+ employee office we worked in was hard work.

So, after much deliberation, we decided enough was enough and it was time we went our own way and set up an ethical and sustainable design agency. An agency that puts people and the planet before profits and an agency that helps to support other businesses with the same mission.

And that all sounds lovely, but, how do we do it?

How do we run an ethical and sustainable design agency?

Well, here’s how… 

100% Renewable Energy

All of our gas and electricity is provided by GEUK (Green Energy UK). Yes, they’re more expensive than other providers, but we believe that our planet is worth it and that always focusing on getting the cheapest price is one of the biggest problems we face as a society today. Constantly fighting on price means corners have to be cut to keep winning the battle and we end up with substandard services, products, food, health, the list goes on.

Carbon Negative

100% renewable energy is fantastic, but let’s be honest, it’s not enough. We still create carbon emissions as a business, so we calculate and offset these emissions every month. Ensuring that we’re not only carbon neutral but are actually carbon negative. Find out how we do that in our other article ‘How To Offset Your Carbon Emissions’.

Ethical Banking & Investments

When we started out we banked with Barclays but quickly swapped to ethical bank Starling when we discovered Barclay’s track record of greenwashing and fossil fuel investments. Our company pensions are also invested in ethical and sustainable funds to help support the growth of the green sector.

Charity Donations

We believe in paying it forward and donate 1% of our turnover to a range of charities that are working to create a more ethical, fair and sustainable future.


Money only goes so far, sometimes you need a bit of muscle and we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. We regularly volunteer our time to a range of local causes and community groups to help with projects and initiatives.


We do not work with businesses or buy products that are involved in any form of animal abuse or exploitation. We have also established a network of suppliers and partners who hold these same values, ensuring that our supply chain is also cruelty-free.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

As standard, we run a paperless office – well, except for a recycled paper notebook each. Our business cards are made from recycled t-shirt offcuts, originally destined for landfill and we use pencils or refillable pens.

When we need to replace our office equipment the rule is always ‘Can it be fixed or can it be bought second-hand or manufacturer refurbished?’ before we even consider buying anything new. We use e-billing and accounting software and all waste is recycled or composted where possible.


We have a distributed agency model, meaning we all work from a home office. Again, this was something some of our more traditional friends warned us against but we believe that the future is remote working.

Driving to and from an office every day, creating unnecessary emissions just to sit behind a desk in a climate-controlled office didn’t make sense to us.

There’s a whole world of technology out there that makes remote working easy, productive and no less creative. So why create all that extra pollution if we don’t have to?

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

We are very lucky to have a refill shop in our local town which stocks the range from Fill Refill Co. They are based not far from us in Northamptonshire and offer a zero waste closed-loop solution.

Suppliers & Freelancers

As well as our internal business decisions we carry our ethics through to how we work with our customers and suppliers.

We don’t believe in trying to be a jack of all trades and compromising your project to make a quick profit. Therefore we have a network of specialists, trusted service providers and freelancers which we work with when a project needs services outside of our in-house expertise.

Our suppliers are always paid a fair wage/rate for their work, we never undercut them and we always pay on time, if not early.

You, Our Customer

Our promise to you is that we will always put you first. Our service is always tailored to you and your specific business needs.

Every project is a team effort with you at the heart of it. We will listen to you and adapt to your requirements, not the other way around.

We don’t believe in copy-and-paste templates and we will always put your business before our profit. You can trust us to be honest about the best options for you and we will never take on a project that we can’t deliver.

Plus, you don’t just have to take our word for it. Feel free to check out our track record of 5-star customer service.

And that’s it. That’s how we run an ethical and sustainable design agency. If you’ve got other ideas of ways we can become even more ethical and sustainable we would love to hear them.

Written by Kayleigh Nicolaou

Co-founder of Kakadu Creative, Kayleigh has worked in the media industry since 2007, managing projects and campaigns for clients ranging from independent high street stores, to music festivals and international brands.
January 18, 2021

Explore more like this...

 Looking to work with a creative team that cares as much as you do?

Get in touch with the form below and let’s have a chat about what you need and how we can help.

Plus, if you found this useful be sure to subscribe to our quarterly newsletter for tips, advice and insights to help your business.