Earth Day 2022 – How businesses impact our environment

Earth Day 2022 (1)

April 22nd marks Earth Day, and ‘Invest In Our Planet’ is the theme of the year. Governments, businesses and individuals are encouraged to take action against climate change. 

But what can businesses actually do to make a positive environmental impact?

With 71% of greenhouse emissions reported to have been caused by just 100 businesses since 1988, there’s no doubt that businesses have an important role to play in the climate crisis.

The good news is, if a small group of big businesses are responsible for a hugely destructive impact, then a large group of small businesses committed to making a net positive impact have the power to change the world for the better. 

From waste management and reusable materials to tree planting and activism, we can all contribute to a better environment and future for our planet.  

So, what can we do?

Businesses can impact the planet directly, through business manufacturing and energy consumption, and indirectly, via suppliers and digital consumption.

When we first started investigating our impact, we began by reviewing all of our processes. Using Scope 1, 2 and 3 as a basis, we have been able to take a look at all of the different ways we as a business emit greenhouse gasses. The results were surprising. 

Scopes 1 and 2 look at your direct consumption. By making changes to your energy providers, reducing travel, and investing in a circular economy, as a few examples, we can make a direct impact on the planet. 

Scope 3 looks at your suppliers, be that your website hosting and coffee provider, or even your email footer and tweeting quantity, everything has an impact. By reviewing the practices and ethos of your providers, you will be able to not only reduce your impact but will also be investing in those who share your values.

In addition, you’ll also be voting with your wallet. When we all move to a sustainable alternative, the less sustainable solutions will have no choice but to adapt their practices or risk losing their business.

It hasn’t been easy for us, it’s taken a lot of time and research for us to get to where we are now, and we still have a way to go. 

As a remote business, we struggled with determining our direct impact since we do not have an office and had to get creative in how we track our staff’s energy usage. We now offset our entire workforce’s carbon emissions (both professional and personal) via ecologi, which tracks our targets. They are also working on a prototype for measuring energy use via a Xero integration.

We don’t believe in simply planting trees to offset carbon. This has been proven to be ineffective in the long run. Instead, we take a hybrid approach of reducing carbon as much as possible, ensuring we’re planting the right trees in the right places, saving food bundles and sponsoring solar power stations through our giving partners, B1G1. 

Climate positive actions you can take right now

We’re proud to have a team that shares our dedication to sustainability. From sustainability policies to our community outreach, engaging your team is a crucial part of creating a more environmentally conscious business.  

There are many things your business can do now to help our planet:

Scope One and Two: Track energy use, waste and travel 

Reduce carbon emissions by switching to a renewable energy supplier like Bulb or Green Energy, reduce waste by switching to reusable packaging and materials, and reduce travel emissions by switching to EVs, cycle to work schemes or public transport.

For remote workers, this can be a little more challenging, as you are required to track all team personal energy use during work hours, which can be even more complicated when they are on different providers or working hours. Wholegrain has some great insight https://www.wholegraindigital.com/blog/remote-team-carbon-footprint/. 

Scope Three: track and manage your suppliers, both direct and indirect

It’s important to remember that digital services still emit carbon, with even one tweet emitting .02g. There are a few key things to consider when looking at your suppliers, including: 

    • Do they have a sustainability policy? 
    • Are they local?
    • Do they run off of green/renewable energy?
    • Can I reduce my usage of this supplier?
    • Is the cost of switching a viable option for me at this time?

Start with small easy changes, and consider road mapping those longer more difficult switches over time. It is not easy to find ethical providers.

Join a provider like Ecologi, and offset when you are unable to reduce 

Ecologi offers offsetting for each of your members of staff, meaning that their personal and professional impact will be offset, creating a positive long term impact on the planet.

It’s not always planting trees, although, of course, this is a crucial element. There are other ways to offset, such as community projects and supporting waste to energy projects. For example, the Vietnam Biogas Programme, utilises biogas to create sustainable energy.

We can all contribute to more sustainable living, and the biggest commitment we can make is to remain engaged in the conversation, and adjust our practices as we continue to discover ways to make a more positive impact. Seek communities that prioritise sustainable business practices, and engage with your network to learn from one another. 

 

Like everyone else, we’re a work in progress. When we know better, we can do better, and these are just a few examples of things we have learnt in the early stages of our own sustainability journey. 

Manifestos like Sustainable Web and events like People, Planet, Pint have been paramount in our continued growth as a sustainable business. So our best advice would be, to stay curious!

Kelsey Swarbrick

Kelsey Swarbrick

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