Carbon neutral is so 2010, the new goal everyone is talking about it ‘Carbon Negative’. In this blog we’ll look at the steps your business can take to achieve a carbon negative footprint and how putting in the effort can benefit your business.
Earlier this year Microsoft announced they plan to be ‘Carbon Negative by 2030’ and to remove their previous carbon emissions by 2050, and what a difference that would make if every large corporation could have that kind of positive impact! But think about it, if you add up all the small and medium businesses in the UK alone the efforts of these businesses will have a far larger impact on global carbon levels than the biggest company in the world.
“SMEs account for three fifths of the employment and around half of turnover in the UK private sector.” Statistic from fsb.org
And it’s not just companies, entire cities and countries are making carbon neutral or negative plans – Glasgow recently announced they planned to be carbon neutral by 2030 and Bhutan has been announced to be the only carbon negative country in the world – see how they did it here.
What Counts as ‘Carbon Negative’ Anyway?
To be carbon negative you must reduce your carbon footprint to below neutral, that means your business is actively making an impact on high carbon emissions by proactively removing carbon from the environment.
And carbon negativity is a surprisingly complex issue, it’s much more involved than simply planting a few extra trees here and there. Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide yes, but they act as a temporary store and release this carbon when they die, so technological solutions and ‘outside-of-the-box’ thinking really come into play when we’re thinking about carbon negativity.
Here’s a great explainer video from Just Have A Think on YouTube
How Can I roughly Calculate My Business’ Carbon Footprint?
There are a few helpful online tools to help you determine your business carbon footprint. We like this one from carbonfootprint.com, it has a free to use plan for small businesses which suits most of our clients but if you’re a larger business you’ll have to pay a fee to use it.
How Can I Make My Business Carbon Negative?
It’s not a case of ‘OK chaps, tomorrow we’re going to be carbon negative!!’, it’s definitely something to work on, so like Microsoft, try setting a few little goals to help you along the way – every little counts!
Step One: Work out where you’re using too much carbon
There could be activities, products you buy in or suppliers you use who are contributing to your carbon footprint without you ever really realising it. A great place to start is your energy supply; does it come from renewable sources? Believe it or not, there are a few energy suppliers in the UK who deal exclusively with renewables and switching to them doesn’t need to cost the earth either! Why not compare suppliers and see what’s new. We recommend Bulb who only sell electricity from renewable resources.
Are you selling something or sourcing something from overseas; if so how far, how does it travel here, what’s the specific carbon footprint of each item and can you reduce that by buying local? Even things as small as buying a UK-based tea and biscuit brand for the staff room can make a difference!
Does your business rely on travel or transport? Is it necessary to be physically present in all off-site meetings or can some of them be covered via networking software or a phone call? Do you have a company car, if so how fuel efficient is it and could you opt for a hybrid or electric car next time?
And how about your staff, how do they travel to work? Could they work a few days a week from home to reduce their carbon footprint and increase productivity? Have you offered them the Cycle To Work scheme?
Slowly make little changes as you go and they’ll add up to a big difference.
Step Two: Aim for Carbon Neutral
Carbon Negative is a huge goal, and something to aspire to, but a great goal to set for your business along the way is to go neutral.
So once you’ve worked out your carbon footprint, start chipping away at the areas you can and get as carbon lean as possible.
If you can manage completely carbon neutral that’s fantastic, but we know how hard that can be. So a great option is to offset the rest, and believe it or not, there are now online marketplaces where you can do just that! Take a look at Nori Marketplace which could offset your business’ carbon footprint via an online donation, nice and easy!
Step Three: Fund the right projects to take you to Carbon Negative
We don’t all own a few acres of barren land which can be turned back into dense woodland and we’re not all scientists able to figure out how to scrape carbon from the air and solidify it. So we’re going to need some help on the road to carbon negative.
Here are some brilliant businesses working on actively removing carbon from the atmosphere who are looking for support. You can make an annual tax-free donation, you could donate part of every ‘sale’ you make, or you might be able to give customers/clients the option to round up their bill/invoice to the nearest round figure and donate the surplus to a carbon negative project.
- United Nations Carbon Offset Programme
- The Woodland Trust
- Gold Standard
- Trillion Tree Campaign
- Project Drawdown
What Are The Benefits Of Going Carbon Negative?
Sure the warm fuzzy feeling of being a global eco warrior is the icing on the cake, but there are plenty of business benefits that could make putting in the extra effort worthwhile. There are a few easily calculable benefits your business could see from making the move to carbon neutrality and negativity.
Firstly, it’s good for business
Ecological impact is a big deal these days, and your company could be more attractive to work with if you can boast carbon neutrality or negativity. It could be the USP that pushes a company to chose to work with you, or it could attract the best talent to come and work with you. Particularly when it comes to Millenials and Gen Z because these generations place higher importance on social and ecological factors than the mighty £ – with many happy to pay more for products and services that do good / do less harm, for example.
In addition, there are plenty of carbon-saving activities which could also save your business some money, eg: taking more meetings remotely, using energy saving lightbulbs reducing your bill, and repairing technology costs you and the earth significantly less!
You Could Be Eligible For A Grant Or Award
Looking for new business vehicles? Take advantage of a £3,500 grant to reduce the price of a low emissions vehicle. Some local councils regularly offer special grants for eco practices, so keep a look out for these as they come up.
Plus there’s a growing number of eco awards up for grabs:
- Responsible Business Awards
- Global Responsible Business Awards
- Blue Patch Sustainable Business Awards
- Global Good Awards
- Green Business Of The Year
Look out for local awards which might be better for smaller businesses too.