So we started measuring our own footprint, to the best of our ability. This meant gathering all sorts of data on energy consumption in the office, business travel, data usage, purchased goods and services, and the list goes on. After a period of learning new things about our own footprint and environmental impact in general, the results were in. It was clear that this result was very likely to be not exact at all, since no expert had looked into it and a lot of estimations were made. Nevertheless, the result was insightful! We noticed that our biggest impact came from business travel, but more surprisingly, our usage of data and the internet was an interestingly significant contributor to our footprint as well.
The next step was to compensate for our footprint of the year 2019. After some research on compensation services – because let’s be honest, some are proven to work less well than promised – we came to the conclusion that The Gold Standard has various projects that make a proper impact on reduction of emissions. Because of the possibility that our calculation could be quite far off, we doubled our total footprint and consequently compensated it by offsetting the emissions through 2 projects: planting biodiverse forests in Panama and providing people in Rwanda with cleaner cooking stoves.
What followed was to think of strategies to actually reduce our footprint, since compensating is not a long-term solution. We focussed on reducing our business travel footprint and changing our consumption of goods and services (e.g. vegetarian lunch & recycled post-it notes). The first reduction was picked because it was the biggest contributor to our total footprint. The second reduction was picked for two reasons: 1. It’s a quick win, and 2. This really helps to increase the awareness of everyone around you (they have different colours than regular post-its). By talking about the fact that we’re doing this to help the environment, people become aware of the significance of this issue as well as our commitment to addressing it.
As we were happy with the result of this project and felt the urge to continue improving ourselves on this matter, it was time to change our method of relatively amateuristic guesstimation to a more substantiated expert one. That’s how Climate Neutral Certified came into our scope. This label would supply us with proper tools, advice and expertise on how to more precisely and correctly measure our footprint and compensate it as well as provide us with strategies on how to reduce that footprint.
On 22 April 2021, we officially became Climate Neutral Certified! We achieved this by providing data to the label, based on which an estimation was made on what our footprint has been. The expertise of the label ensured that we had a more accurate measurement than the year before. The estimation of CNC was 3 times higher than our own DIY estimation, which came mostly from not having data on suppliers as well as indirect emissions, such as those emitted at the production of the office building. These were great learnings for us! Again, we compensated our footprint through offset programs provided to us by the label and started working on strategies on how to reduce our footprint even further, in the years to come. We are currently working on finding options for supplied goods and services that are more sustainable, we are avoiding plane rides whenever possible, we provide the option to our employees to work from home or remote and we aim to eliminate single-use company ‘swag’.
One reduction strategy that is still on the horizon is reducing our data usage. At the moment, just like almost everybody else, we are using a lot more data than a bit over a year ago. We have had some small ideas, like setting your video stream to a lower resolution or turning it off altogether and decreasing traffic by, for instance, unsubscribing from all newsletters you don’t read. But, we are still working on looking at this at a grander scale (if you have any thoughts, please do hit us up!).
A brighter future
Now that we have completed our Climate Neutral Certification, the next step is to keep measuring and compensating our footprint yearly. More importantly, every year we set ourselves a goal to reduce our footprint further and further, hopefully coming to full carbon neutrality, or even having a positive footprint on the environment! Did you read this blog thinking ‘huh, perhaps we should give it a try’? Great! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for help or tips. We all have to take our responsibility and take care of the planet, so let’s work together to build a better world!