spotlight: interview with john macKenzie at ethical host

26 Oct

I’ve been working on an exciting new web launch, the eco cartel for the last few months, but today is an equally big day for the simply stephen network. I’ve wanted more depth and dimension with interviews, reviews, guest posts and a range of valuable content. For many reasons, I’ve hesitated but today it’s time to break the mold.

I have many green connections.

I talk about the environment.

But I also do my best to act the part. I try to minimize my business impact by implementing green choices and choosing green suppliers. Many of us look at our options but never quite take the plunge.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of my key suppliers, John MacKenzie at Ethical Host, with the first interview on the simply stephen network.

I’ve been a client of John for several years now and his service is second to none – in any industry. How you treat your customers is high on the list of key virtues to run a successful business. I chose ethical host as my web host and domain registrar because it was green and local.

The value I receive is unmeasurable.

There have been a few times when I’ve made big faux pas and John has come to the rescue. For example I’ve deleted my WordPress site in the midst of a re-install and forgot to back it up. John to the rescue. Early Sunday morning email and presto – pull the server backup and restore me to the last daily backup. All within an hour or so.


It’s not just the level of service though, John is courteous and cares about you, your business, the community and the environment. It’s worth supporting a business were you are not just a name and number – you are a part of it. Without further adieu let’s move on to the interview.

simply stephen: It would be great if you could first of all provide a background on your business and services with a focus on the green.

john: Ethical Host is the first socially responsible web host in North America  and is striving to be a high quality, reliable hosting company that is not only sustainable but also socially responsible. We didn’t just buy some offsets and call ourselves green we actually focus on reducing our footprint in many ways.

simply stephen: Tell me more. Rain Forests have been depleted from 15% of the earth to 2%, CO2 is through the roof and fresh water shortages are no surprise. How do you reduce your footprint at home and the office?


1) Well there is no commuting since I work from Home so this is a big one (and therefore answers are pretty much for both). When i do travel (to the bank) or other places I use Public transit or bicycle wherever possible.
2) We use energy star rated equipment  and appliances, CFL lighting and we use a high efficiency furnace and on-demand hot water system.
3) we have ceiling fans in use for summer to avoid having to run the Air conditioner.
4) We recycle everything, and any paper used  if new is 100% post consumer recycled. All paper is reused and we print on the opposite side of any scrap paper we can get our hands on.
5) having gone paperless with accounting, no invoices are printed, they are only stored digitally.
6) we also use a staple free stapler whenever possible
7) We avoid Styrofoam and all other disposable products found in most workplaces
8) The office computer was build with green in mind with energy efficient hard drives, green RHOS parts and energy efficient power supply and motherboard.
9) We are vegetarian and so have a tremendously lower footprint in terms of our food consumption than a regular diet does.
10) We use bullfrog power for our home/office electricity usage and for the server related carbon footprint, we purchase gold standard carbon offsets through planetair which directly relates to new renewable energy projects being built.

simply stephen: I’m glad to see you live what you are passionate about. The green movement is no passing fad, what direction do you want to take with your business?

john: I agree. While there is always something more than can be done, I think Ethical Host has already implemented a lot of green solutions and will continue to look for ways to improve.

simply stephen: I know a portion of your proceeds go to great charities. With all the great causes, how to you determine who is going to benefit?

john: This is a good question. Yes 10% of our pre-tax profit is donated to charity. Sure it’s hard to narrow it down so what I do is review all suggestions made by my customers, and research each one of them. I try to strive for a balance of local vs Canadian vs international organizations. Next I try to find ones that don’t spend a large amount on “administration” costs since that takes directly away from the money that goes to help people or animals or the environment. Also, to help narrow the focus we create 3 categories, Environment & Biodiversity, Economic/Social justice in Canada, and World Poverty & Human Rights. Lastly, since I feel like some of the slightly lesser known organizations often do better work than the really large organizations, I like to try and profile these instead. At the end each year I will have 3 charities in each category and my customers will then Vote on 1 choice from each category to receive our donation for the year.

simply stephen: Often, in conversation I get the “deer in the headlight look” or lack of concern when I start talking about the environment. Have you encountered this and if so, how do you discuss green living with them?

john: Yep well i am not that pushy of a person in terms of my beliefs so if people are actually interested in them, I wait for them to ask questions instead of putting my stuff out there I find its more effective that way since if they are not interested its going to fall on deaf ears anyways.

simply stephen: A nice perspective, sometimes I often voice my opinions strongly and it certainly can be more effective to refrain until asked. Have you ever wanted to pack it all in? If so, what would you be doing instead?

john: hmmm, well sometimes it feels like I need a clone to get it all done, but I really like what i do and what my business can bring forward in terms of social responsibility. I have been doing hosting for over 13 years now so its really all I know at this point!

simply stephen: I know what you mean about the clone, so much to do and so little time. What issues do you think are in need of the most immediate solutions?

john: I think the promotion of renewable energy sources needs to be put into a higher gear. There are a lot of exciting power generation techniques such as tidal, wave, the new solar research coming out of California (that proposes efficiency of 40-60% vs the current 2-3% you currently get from solar panels) which is huge and needs to be funded much more heavily. Imagine getting 20X more power out of your solar array! This is one reason why i feel like investing in current solar technology is actually a bit of a waste until this new one becomes commercially viable.

simply stephen: What green activities and groups do you participate in locally?

john:  When I had time I volunteered with the TVA (Toronto Vegetarian Association) but not so much any more and am also a member of Karma Co-op a food co-operative in Toronto.

simply stephen: John, thanks so much for taking the time to share your business and thoughts. The work you do and the way you do it is important. Many people benefit from your commitment to customers, community and the environment.

If you are looking for a green web host, need to register a domain, John is competitive. You may find what appears to be a better deal but the value from Ethical Host is priceless. If you run a green or ethical business and want to speak with actions by supporting a local, green or ethical web host, I highly recommend Ethical Host (links are an affiliate link that I will make a commission on but I promote Ethical Host regardless and am happy for you to by-pass it)

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