🌎 THE SITUATION
The United Nations report on climate change (IPCC, 2018) concludes that we need to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C to avoid high risk of catastrophic consequences for people and our living environment. To do so, the world needs to peak carbon emissions by 2020. To limit temperature increase to 1.5°C, emissions need to halved by 2030, and drop to net zero by the middle of the century for the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
📝YOUR CARBON JOURNEY:
REDUCE SOME MORE
⚠️Communicate Your Progress Throughout⚠️
Ok before getting started here are a few notes:
Focus on the big stuff: it’s hard not to get carried away with packaging or the amount of paper your team uses but all of these really don’t have much of a carbon footprint compared to these three areas in your business.
A) The raw materials you're using for your product
B) The energy supply your manufacturers, suppliers and your workspace uses
C) If you use ANY air travel across your supply chain OR for business trips.
Think NET ZERO: Always ask your self this through your carbon journey: is your product contributing to net zero carbon lifestyles for your consumers? If NO then you need to change how you're running things.
Now those notes are out of the way, here is the playbook you NEED to read before moving forward💯:
I've highlighted in YELLOW the most important sections of this Playbook for you.
TIME: 30 minutes read.
ACTION I CAN TAKE: Immediate.
1) 😎 MEASURE YOUR CARBON...
Most of the founders I spoke to are a tad blocked here: seems like things are expensive, full of greenwash traps and a massive time burden. Here's how you can measure your carbon footprint without any of these problems:
First, familiarise yourself with the terms used in carbon accounting by skim reading the Carbon Trust document here.
This graph from Carbon Trust shows this neatly: overtime, your carbon footprint will gain in accuracy. Don't be afraid to rely on an approximation when you start. Don't let fear of greenwashing or doing it wrong hold you back. You can measure today.
It's also important to note that accounting for the carbon your business produces is an ONGOING and IMPROVING journey. It's ok to start with an estimate..
You should revise your carbon measuring frequently (annually or bi-annually) and this is where you can refine what you've measured, your methodology and take into account more stuff.
1. a)🤓 MEASURE IT YOURSELF
Here are the tools you're going to use to piece together an estimate of your carbon footprint across you business. The best bit is that they are simple, speedy and all science backed. Oh...and did I mention FREE OF CHARGE? 💲👀
FOR YOUR PRODUCT
These tools are limited in the raw materials you can input. As soon as you use a quirky ingredient or material you won't be able to use these. You'll need to chat to a consultancy about this issue (which I explain further down).
FOR YOUR BUSINESS
To get to grips with reporting your emissions relative to your business, I'd strongly recommend skim reading this document here 👉 👉 👉
Carbon Footprint Organisation have a FREE calculator for Small Business owners.
The Cool Climate tool from Berkeley's University is also pretty useful.
Perhaps more extensive, you can also use the ACE Carbon Calculator too.
FOR YOUR BUILDINGS (OFFICE, WAREHOUSE...etc)
Use Ecoscan from Ecochain to calculate the carbon footprint of the electricity you use and fuel usage of company cars or delivery vans.
FOR YOUR WEBSITE and IT INFRASTRUCTURE
Website Carbon allows you to understand the emissions related to your webpage and whether or not your website runs on sustainable energy. Take 1 minute to use and get results!
Microsoft have published a FREE tool on carbon footprinting your IT services
1.b)✍️ MEASURE WITH LOW COST
If you have some budget and would like to measure with greater accuracy, here are some companies you can use that won't break your piggy bank.
(PS: we work at Climate Partner now so might even be the ones helping you calculate your carbon footprint 🤗🤩).
2) 💪 SET STRONG REDUCTION TARGETS
The ultimate solution to stopping climate change is to have all businesses reduce all of their greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by mid-century (2050!).
Now here is my top tip to you: do NOT immediately offset after your measure your carbon footprint (greenwash alert!). Before you even go down this path, sit yourself down and set a target for reducing your emissions this year. Look at where you produce the most amount of carbon and seek to reduce these as much as possible over this next upcoming year.
3) 🙌 START REDUCING TODAY
This PDF here shows you how (I've highlighted the important bits in yellow).
TIME: 30 minutes read.
ACTION I CAN TAKE: Immediate.
You can start reducing your carbon footprint today by looking at angles of your business. The Carbon Trust have put things succinctly in the figure below.
This is going to be the tricky bit: understanding who has the power and leverage to switch things within your supply chain or business to help lower carbon emissions.
To make things easier, I've collated an Excel document with some great frameworks as well as the name of green suppliers in different business areas: deliveries, energy suppliers and even types of packaging. Hope it helps!
4) 🌱 Offset UNAVOIDABLE emissions
Ok, NOW you can offset. You have my greenlight. Here is what the Race to Zero says about when you can use carbon offsets in your journey towards being Net Zero as a business:
1. In the transition to net-zero: Companies may opt to compensate or to neutralise emissions that are still being released into the atmosphere while they transition towards a state of net-zero emissions.
2. At Net-Zero: Companies with residual emissions within their value chain are expected to neutralise those emissions with an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide removals.
In the long term, offsets shouldn't be part of your strategy. If you are currently claiming Climate Neutrality as a business yet have no carbon reduction targets then you are greenwashing. We can't sit and wait for trees to slowly clean the air we've dirtied. The problem is within our business and supply chains. We can't rely solely on carbon offsets.
Now that my ramble is over, however, here are a couple great carbon offsetting companies and their associated pricing.
Check out how to reduce using this document. Get cosy with it, make it your own and start reducing!
There is one main consideration to have when choosing carbon offsetting projects from the companies I've mentioned above: do they reflect your business values? Some are focused on female empowerment, others on supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and some projects are simply carbon removing technology with no human input. Ask yourself which one compliments your product story and then go for it.
5) 🏆 SHOW OFF YOUR NUMBERS
First of all, here's a virtual pat on the back for making it this far 🙌. Carbon footprinting is hard work and super daunting. You've done some great things to get you to this section.
The best way to communicate your carbon footprint is through condensing it into facts & figures your audience are familiar with. To do this, turn your carbon footprint into an equivalent metric e.g. number of avocados 🥑 or bus trips 🚌. Here are some more free tools:
and for inspiration here are a couple star examples of showcasing your carbon footprint as a business: