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Editors’ letter
Hannah Smith and Marketa Benisek

10 people share what finding beauty in the imperfect means to them

Issue 8 community-assembled playlist
Hannah Smith and Lima Dastgeer

Meaningful connection

Talking it out: Restoring information ecosystems through authentic human connections
Bárbara Paes and Olivia Johnson

One Movement, Four Wings: Connecting climate strategies
Melissa Hsiung

Connectivity, infrastructure and the defence of the Amazon’s socio-biodiverse ecosystems
Hemanuel Veras

What can digital sustainability learn from accessibility?
Mike Masey

Solarpunk and speculative features

Jo Lindsay Walton

Care for life, care for the chips: the future is re-used, recycled and permacomputing
Alistair Alexander

Toward a Pragmatic Future: Accepting Imperfect Systems whilst Striving for Regeneration
Oliver Cronk

Solarpunk Meets Better Business: Reimagining a Sustainable Digital Future
Simon Blackler

Ministry of Imagination Manifesto
Rob Hopkins

Octavia’s Future is Here, Now What
Mica Le John

Design philosophy

Designing Friction
Marketa Benisek, Luna Maurer, Roel Wouters

The Wabi Sabi Web
Tom Greenwood

Echoes of electronic waste
Joanna Murzyn

Imperfect design for a better future
Thorsten Jonas

Alternative networks: Consciously designing from within earthly dynamics
Jesse Thompson

Perfection is the enemy of progress

The perfect site doesn’t exist
Michelle Barker

Rabbit holes of perfection
Mary Pitt

From bytes to carbon savings: Immediate’s sustainable transformation of Good Food
Tommy Ferry, Marketa Benisek, Michelle Whitehead, Linzi Ricketts, Filippa Furniss, Graham Martin

Small steps, big goals: Building sustainable change
Kim Lea Rothe

The perfect data paradox
Rory Brown

This issue is a collaboration between Wholegrain Digital and Green Web Foundation.

About Branch

Unknown grid intensity

Solarpunk Meets Better Business: Reimagining a Sustainable Digital Future

In a world hurtling towards environmental catastrophe, business as usual is no longer an option. The digital sector, with its heavy reliance on fossil fuels and ever-increasing carbon footprint, has been a significant contributor to the multiple existential crises – or ‘polycrisis’ – we now face. But what if we could reimagine our relationship with technology and the environment? What if we could create a world where business, technology, and nature are in harmony?

© 2002-2024 Krystal Hosting Ltd. All rights reserved.

At Krystal, we believe that change is not only possible but necessary.

As the world’s first B Corp™ certified web host and public cloud provider, we’re redefining the corporate playbook by proving that business can be a force for good without compromising on quality or service. Our journey towards a more sustainable and equitable digital future begins with a bold vision – one that not only acknowledges the challenges we face but also dares to imagine a world where they’ve been overcome.

This vision is beautifully encapsulated in our recent rebranding, which embraces the solarpunk aesthetic and invites us to explore a world where technology, nature, and responsible business practices coexist harmoniously. 

A beacon of hope: How our solarpunk visuals inspire change

Solarpunk is more than just an aesthetic – it’s a vision of a future where technology and nature thrive together. It imagines a world where renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and green architecture are the norm. Our new illustrations, with their vibrant colours, organic shapes, and seamless integration of technology and nature, not only embody this vision but also take it a step further by adding the concept of better business into the mix.

By depicting a world where sustainable technology and ethical business practices are interwoven, our visuals suggest that a greener future and a thriving economy are not mutually exclusive, but rather interdependent. They serve as a constant reminder of the world we’re striving to create – one where business, technology, and the environment are not at odds, but rather working together for the greater good.

At the heart of our new world – which we call Krystopia – is a tall, striking building that represents the future home of Krystal. This structure symbolises Krystal’s role as a shining beacon, illuminating the path towards a more sustainable and equitable future. The building seamlessly integrates with its natural surroundings, featuring lush greenery and organic shapes that blur the lines between the artificial and the organic, the manmade and the natural.

© 2002-2024 Krystal Hosting Ltd. All rights reserved.

These aren’t just beautiful solarpunk images for us. They’re a rich and vibrant visual representation of Krystal’s values and aspirations. They serve as a reminder that even within the imperfections of our current world, we can find beauty and inspiration. The solarpunk aesthetic acknowledges the challenges we face in creating a sustainable future, but it also celebrates the potential for innovation and collaboration to overcome these obstacles.

Krystal’s humble beginning – a conversation between mates on a trampoline – serves as a reminder that the pursuit of a better future often starts in unconventional places, with limited resources and no guarantee of success. Yet, it is in these imperfect circumstances that the beauty of determination, resilience, and vision shines through.

But the journey to this better future is not without its obstacles. Navigating it requires tough decisions, innovative solutions, and a willingness to confront the realities of our current system.

The challenges of running a responsible technology company, and how we’re overcoming them

Running a sustainable and ethical hosting company in an industry that is not only heavily reliant on fossil fuels, but also often synonymous with distrust and poor ethics, is no easy feat. The technology sector has long been associated with a ‘move fast and break things’ mentality, prioritising rapid growth and profits over social and environmental responsibility. This has led to a widespread lack of trust in the industry, with consumers increasingly sceptical of companies’ motives and practices.

We believe this is where our commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices stands out as a beacon of hope – more on this later. By proving that it’s possible to operate successfully while prioritising people and the planet, Krystal is challenging the status quo and demonstrating that a better way forward is possible. However, navigating this journey has required – and continues to require – a delicate balance between sustainability, performance, reliability, and customer satisfaction.

One of the primary challenges is the digital sector’s significant carbon footprint. Data centres consume vast amounts of energy, often sourced from non-renewable sources, contributing to global emissions. While we have taken significant steps to mitigate our environmental impact – such as ensuring that all of our servers run on 100% renewable energy and earning carbon-neutral certification – the transition to a fully sustainable infrastructure remains an ongoing process that requires continuous innovation and improvement.

© 2002-2024 Krystal Hosting Ltd. All rights reserved.

Another hurdle lies in the difficulty of achieving a balance between sustainability and performance. Some customers might have chosen us for our ethical credentials, but this doesn’t mean they or the general market will tolerate any compromise in quality, speed, service, or reliability. We’ve addressed this by investing millions into the development of our own state-of-the-art cloud platform, Katapult. Katapult lets us deliver improved performance and reliability while running resource-intensive hardware for up to twice as long as competitors. Pair that with our outstanding customer service, and we believe we’ve struck a balance that satisfies both our customers and our conscience.

Running an ethical business often means making difficult choices that may not always align with short-term profits. We remain committed to our values, even when it means taking a financial hit. Our funding of grass-roots level community networking projects such as People Planet Pint and Green Tech South West is a great example of how we reinvest our profits into causes we believe in. People Planet Pint is an informal networking event for anyone interested in sustainability and climate change. What started in Glasgow is now a global event in 75 cities across ten countries – and growing! Green Tech South West is a welcoming community of over 2,300 members who run events to share insight on how technology can heal or harm our planet. We’re proud to sponsor events that bring people together for collective positive change.

Despite the challenges and tough decisions we face on our journey, we remain committed to our vision of a sustainable and equitable digital future. Our recent rebrand serves as a testament to this commitment. By depicting a world where technology and nature coexist harmoniously, our visuals inspire us to look beyond the imperfections of our current reality and imagine a better way forward. They remind us that even in the face of adversity, we can find beauty and hope in the pursuit of a more just and sustainable future.

Building the world we imagine, together

As we stand at the precipice of a world in crisis, we hope that our journey serves as a call to action, illuminating the path towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

We aim to be a company that not only exhibits a solarpunk aesthetic but also embodies its fundamental values. By demonstrating that technology, business, and nature can coexist harmoniously, we’re proving that businesses can drive positive change while maintaining high-quality offerings and customer satisfaction.

The pursuit of a better future is a collective responsibility that falls on each and every one of us. It invites us to find beauty and inspiration on our imperfect journeys, in an imperfect world, and to use our unique skills, resources, and voices to contribute to the creation of a more just and sustainable planet.

© 2002-2024 Krystal Hosting Ltd. All rights reserved.

The path ahead may be uncertain, but one thing is clear – we cannot afford to maintain the status quo. It’s time to find beauty in the imperfect and take action towards a more sustainable and equitable future. 

If we can imagine it, we can build it. It’s going to take all of us, and we hope Krystal can become a beacon of hope to show others what can be done.

Together, we can build the world we imagine.

Are you in?

Simon Blackler founded Krystal in 2002 to challenge the industry status quo and create a long-lasting vehicle for positive change.

Voted a ‘Pioneer of the Year’ at the Better Business Summit 2024, Simon’s continuing dedication and leadership can be seen not only through Krystal’s ethos and environmental initiatives, but also through its unwavering focus on quality and value. He also sits part-time on the Nominet board of directors following his successful campaign to restore its original non-profit purpose. Catch him during his downtime and you’ll find him cycling, skiing or gaming (though not usually at the same time). You can follow Simon on LinkedIn.