Changing your business, one carbon credit at a time
With broadening discussions around climate change, we’re seeing more and more businesses dedicating time and energy into the environmental impact of their operations. In the NZ ‘Better Futures’ report, a resounding 90% agreed ‘if I heard about a company being irresponsible or unethical, I’d stop buying their products, or using their services.’ Could the size of your business success relate directly to the size of your carbon footprint?
The triple bottom line
Businesses often judge their performance based on financial accomplishments. The TBL (Triple Bottom Line) method challenges businesses to also assess their performance on three other key bottom lines; environmental, social and economic. The same ‘Better Futures’ report found that 86% of people agreed ‘It’s important for me to work for a company that is socially and environmentally responsible’. So, if you’ve been considering how clean and green your business truly is, now is a great time to find out.
5 quick tips to start
- Measure your businesses carbon footprint – this will help you to understand where your business is currently and where there is room for improvement (we discuss the ‘how’ in more detail below).
- Improve your office energy consumption – install energy efficient lighting, heating/cooling and appliances. Educate staff on best practice e.g. using appliances efficiently, turning off lights.
- Reduce transportation – less airline travel, more video conferencing! This has been happening naturally over the past few months due to Covid-19 restrictions. Consider how to carry this on and also reduce petrol consumption, carpooling and public transport options.
- Print less material – put technology to good use by going as paperless as possible. It’s easier than it’s ever been with the number of cloud-based software solutions available now.
- Promote recycling – set up separate recycling bins and use them! Don’t limit yourself to paper only -research options for electronic devices, and used furniture etc.
How big is your footprint?
Firstly, you’ll need to calculate where your business currently sits regarding carbon emissions to establish a baseline for your business to work up from. There are some great online tools available to help you do this including the free ACE (Annual Carbon Emissions) tool, developed by Catalyst Ltd for the Sustainable Business Network. It’s not ‘one size fits all’, but it does give small-medium sized businesses the opportunity to work research their emissions without engaging an external consultant. However, if you do want to hand your analysis over completely, there are plenty of environmental consultancy businesses who can help.
Toitu Envirocare offer accreditation programs developed by Landcare Research, including CEMARS and CarboNZero. Providing certification sets a benchmark standard when it comes to managing carbon emissions. In Landcare Research’s words: ‘Certification can help organisations meet stakeholder requirements, demonstrate good corporate citizenship, manage risk, develop business efficiencies, achieve cost savings and gain market access.’
Carbon credits to the rescue!
You don’t have to plant a rooftop garden on your office building to offset your carbon consumption – there are some fantastic schemes out there that can manage the process for you. Ekos is one such international non-profit enterprise. Ekos can help you measure your businesses carbon footprint, then enables you to offset those carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits which go towards reforestation or forest protection programs. One carbon credit compensates for one tonne of carbon dioxide which has been removed from the atmosphere by a forest through photosynthesis – amazing!
So, how’s the triple bottom line in your business? Whether you’re taking baby steps or giant leaps to neutralize your carbon footprint, we’d love to hear about it!