• Our Journey to Carbon Neutral

In this post, I’d like to give you a brief overview of the work we’ve been doing, measuring the impact of our business activities on the environment. I’ll be writing more posts in the coming weeks and months when we can get into details. First though, a bit of background.

It’s been almost a year now since we set ourselves a huge challenge. We wanted to become a carbon-neutral business by the end of this year (2021). Despite how unlikely achieving that goal has seemed at times, we actually did it — and with a couple of months to spare! 

It's not been easy. After speaking with a few other small business owners, some common themes emerged early on. Most wanted to understand the impact that their businesses were having on the environment, and most didn’t have a clue where to start. In that sense, we had a lot in common.

A painful few months followed. The information I was trying to make sense of was making my head hurt. It felt like I was wading through treacle. I was starting to feel that the only way to make progress would be to hand over a lot of money to one of the many big consulting businesses who were offering to calculate our carbon footprint for us.

I didn’t want to go down this path. I wanted us to understand the issues properly and take ownership of our impact in a less passive and more engaged way. I had a strong feeling that we should keep the work ‘in-house’, at least initially, if we were going to be able to fully engage with it.

The University of Sheffield helped us find and recruit a recent geography graduate to work with us over a few months during the summer as part of a scheme that they were running in partnership with Santander. Eleanor came with a lot of knowledge and passion, and she was raring to go. All of a sudden, we started making progress.

Fast-forward a few months, several meetings, many emails, numerous conversations with suppliers and a fair bit of head scratching — and Eleanor was able to deliver our first carbon footprint report.

We measured our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and calculated our carbon footprint for the financial year ending March 31st 2021 — just under 53 tonnes of CO2e.

Earlier this month, we offset those emissions by purchasing ‘Gold Standard’ and Fairtrade-Certified carbon credits, which will fund some valuable work in India. The project installs and maintains biogas cooking facilities in homes in rural areas, providing families with an alternative to cooking with wood. In addition to the carbon savings (through not burning wood), there are numerous health and social benefits for the families involved, particularly for women and children.

Knowing that we have funded another nineteen families having access to these cleaner, safer biogas cooking facilities feels good and has given our whole team a lift. You can read more about the project here.

We’ve learned a huge amount, and we’re already changing how we operate so that we can further reduce our carbon footprint in the future. More about all that soon. 

Still, this is just the beginning. We now have a methodology, a way to measure our impact. We now know which areas of our business we should focus on improving or redesigning to have the most positive effect on our emissions. We know that we need to do more, and we’re up for the challenge.

We’re also aware that we may not have got everything completely right at this point, it’s a work in progress after all and we’re new to this. Still, we’re glad to have made a start and we’ll put right any mistakes we make along the way as our knowledge and understanding evolves. 

I’m excited to share more of what we’ve learned with you in future posts. If this is something you’re particularly interested in, sign up to our newsletter (here), and we’ll let you know as soon as each new post comes out. If you have any thoughts, questions, or areas that you would like us to say more about, please feel free to drop us a message by hitting the orange icon in the bottom right corner of this page.