Friday, January 20, 2023

Creating an Environmental Policy as a self-employed illustrator

I have to create an Environmental Policy as part of a current application process. As a small business and sole trader, it is not something I already in place so I thought I would record how I went about it here, in case it could be useful for others. It is not, at the moment, a statutory requirement. Of course, in my personal and home life, green issues are something I do think about often, I am sure we all do, but I had not really delved into it formally in my business.

Initial research was done on the internet, searching the terms. Here are the articles which I found useful with links: 

British Assessment Bureau - Environmental policy: confirming your green credentials


Common Objective - What to include in an environmental policy


Small Business - Environmental checklist for small businesses


ISO Standards - Environmental Management


As a second step, I felt it would be useful to do an audit and think about materials I use, where I work, the way I travel etc.



Paper (watercolour sheets, printer paper)

Sketchbooks (various)

Pens (Tikky fine liners)

Pencils (graphite mainly)

Watercolours (Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, Deep Deep Light)

Brushes (Synthetic only)

Existing materials of inks, gouache, acrylic markers etc.

Assorted ‘freebies’

Packaging materials (envelopes, card)

Promotional cards/flyers

Glues and tapes

Printer inks

Bubble wrap

Glass jam jars





Desktop computer



Graphics tablet

LED Lightbox



Digital Cloud storage

Digital hard drive storage

Archive sketchbooks

Archive illustrations

Reference books and magazines

Wooden plans chest

Large plastic boxes

Cardboard boxes



Studio (use of radiator, light, kettle, brush-room)

Home (use of heating, light, kettle, cooker)

On location (take water with me)




Public transport

Trains and planes (overseas travel)


Supply Chain

Mixam UK - printed zines

Moo - business cards and flyers

Amazon -packaging supplies

The Traveler Art - prints and packaging

ASC studios

Post Office and Royal Mail

Jacksons Art (materials)

Cass Art (materials)


Moving on from the audit, I need to think about ways and practices that could be changed or improved in the future. It will be important to revisit the policy regularly, at least annually, to update it as advice changes.


Here is what I have come up with…


Lis Watkins Illustration Environmental Policy  

I create hand-drawn images and maps mainly using the traditional analog materials of paper, pen and watercolour for clients on the travel and event sectors. I also give workshops both in the UK and overseas, sell printed zines and license my work to be made into prints. I have a presence online via a website, portfolio sites and social media channels. I would like to work in a way that means I can behave responsibly and aim to have the least negative impact on the environment. I have made an audit of my current practices and have looked at where I can improve my performance. 


   Make best use of the materials I already have by making sure they are visible or clearly marked in the studio and at home

   When buying new materials, place fewer orders to cut down on deliveries

   Only accept ‘freebies’ when I know they will be used

   Reuse paper from archive illustrations/drawings when possible

   Print double-sided

   Only use paper/card packaging going forward

   Encourage customers to recycle packaging by adding a message on my postal packages 


   Switch off when not in use

   When replacements are needed, consider refurbished options before new



   STUDIO - The studio is run and owned by ASC Studios. I could not find an Environmental Policy on their website but can ask if they have one. At the studio I use the light, a power socket, a radiator (during the winter) and kettle in the kitchen. I already take home any waste and recycle it. I use the brush-room to clean water jars and refill. Need to continue ensuring that everything is switched off when I leave.

   HOME - Sometimes I work from home using heat, lighting, the desk top computer and kitchen. Need to continue the switch off policy here. Our local authority collects food waste, paper, glass and plastics to be recycled.

   ON LOCATION - Often I spend time drawing outside and I need to continue taking home any waste and disposing of any dirty water carefully



   Physical storage at the studio is in large plastic crates and card boxes. I chose the plastic crates as there have been leaks in other studios and I felt this was the best way to protect my work. At home I use a wooden plans chest and card boxes.

   Digital storage is on the Cloud, computer hard drive and external hard drive. This is one area where I could make a lot of improvement.



   I travel to the studio by public transport and also when going to draw on location in the UK

   Travelling overseas is more tricky if the client is paying, they will usually want me to use the cheapest option which is usually flying. I can ask if they would consider the train or offer to pay the difference in price. For my own research and development trips I need to consider the various options.

   Arrange phone calls or Zoom meetings with clients to cut down on travel


Supply Chain

   Do research on existing suppliers and due diligence on potential new ones


This is my initial Environmental Policy and I realise that I need to monitor it regularly and update it annually.

Lis Watkins January 2023