How Businesses Can Shrink Their Carbon Footprint
‘Business leaders’ should be synonymous with ‘climate leaders’.
The following how-to was inspired by our partners at Climate Neutral whose certification process helped us become carbon neutral.
Carbon. It’s everywhere, and it’s the heavy hitter when it comes to the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide only began to get a bad rap when human behavior started to accelerate their release into the atmosphere.
Since the post-industrial rise of big business, companies big and small have been responsible for a large majority of global emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Because of this, company leaders have a real responsibility to make this world better than it was when they founded their business.
At All Good we know – like you do – that there is a way to do business while also living in balance with nature. We hold a fundamental role in not only slowing the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but in improving the state of the world as a whole.
So whether you work for one or are a repeat customer, keep these initiatives in mind when you’re looking to green your company and use your business as a force for good.
Put Your Best Foot[print] Forward
The first carbon-free step forward is to assess the impact your business currently has on the environment. Programs like Climate Neutral can help guide you through a step-by-step process that will allow you to estimate your company’s entire carbon footprint “from cradle-to-gate” in as little as 1-2 hours.
Some of your company’s emissions will seem obvious – like the energy you use to power your office building, the fuel you use for transporting your goods, you can even make changes to the server your website is hosted on. GHG Protocol, who sets the standards that Climate Neutral follows on how to measure and manage climate-warming emissions, categorizes these as Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
Other emissions will be harder to find, hidden in your supply network and generated outside of the four walls of operation of your company – these are categorized as Scope 3 emissions, and usually make up for the bulk of a company’s carbon footprint. While making changes in your own operations (Scope 1 and 2) is worthwhile, the biggest impact you can have is cooperating with supply network partnerships to reduce and offset Scope 3 emissions. (We can proudly say we consider all 3 emission scopes when estimating our company’s carbon footprint, but this is not the case for all businesses.)
As you assess the size of your businesses’ carbon footprint, be sure to keep all of the touchpoints of your business in mind. A few questions to guide your investigation might be…
- Who are the partners you rely on to keep your business moving?
- Are your stakeholders invested in sustainability initiatives?
- Are emissions from Scope 1, 2, and 3 all being considered in your company’s analysis?
- Can your business provide support to your vendors and distributors in order to guide them to “greener pastures”?
- Are there opportunities to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy across your partnerships? In your supply network?
Which brings us to our next point…
Ditch Fossil Fuels However Possible
You’ll be surprised to find that making the switch to renewable energy is not only cheaper, but can be extremely easy.
- Install solar panels wherever your business has touch points: for us, this meant installing solar energy on our farm which eliminated our reliance on the grid. We also kept things local by opting into Monterey Bay Community Power in order for our headquarters in Morro Bay, CA to be supplied by 100% renewable energy. Lastly, we are grateful to be able to hand-pour every jar of All Good Goop in a community center with a solar-powered kitchen.
- Rethink your entire supply network. Research how you might be able to source ingredients from projects dedicated to regenerative farming practices, or how you can support programs and businesses that are women-led or that benefit indigenous communities.
How much of your company relies on getting products or services from one place to another? Planes, trains, automobiles… they all can have a harsh impact on air pollution if you’re not careful.
- Consider electric company vehicle fleets or research partnerships with 3PLs, aka ‘third-party logistics’. 3PLs allow “companies to outsource operational logistics from warehousing, all the way through to delivery, and ultimately enables you to focus on other parts of your business.” Thanks to 3PLs, we were able to drastically reduce the travel footprint of our products shipped to wholesale customers east of the Rockies (hats off to you, Fidelitone)!
In the office
- Okay, office life is a bit on pause at the moment. But while your team works from home, you have time to renovate old buildings into sustainable safe havens. Install solar energy, turn off any stagnant computer monitor or printer not in use, switch to an office printer with refillable ink cartridges, and swap out traditional office products for some from Certified B Corp companies (shoutout to fellow B Corp Grounds for Change for keeping our office caffeinated).
Offset from the Outset
After you’ve made some changes to your company internally, there might be carbon your company is responsible for that has yet to be addressed. Thankfully, these leftovers can be addressed by carbon offsetting.
The term ‘carbon offsetting’ has taken flight in recent years as businesses and individuals alike have realized that they can fund projects and programs all over the world that are working to negate carbon emissions. There are a whole slew of organizations and types of programs out there, some of which include preserving native grasslands, reforestation projects, and renewable energy initiatives. Just make sure that the offsets your company chooses to purchase are verified by reputable standards to ensure the project you are choosing to support will actually offset the amount of carbon it claims it will.
We were able to shrink our carbon footprint to zero at the turn of the new year by partnering with fellow B Corp Native Energy to offset all of our non reduced emissions through carbon drawdown projects (bonus points: we partner with 1% for the Planet nonprofits, too).
The Proof is in the Packaging
This one isn’t so easy, but is worth the time and investment. From paper to plant-based silicone to everything in between, there’s a lot more to packaging than meets the eye. It’s important to weigh all the options and find one that’s best for your company and the products or services your company provides.
As a body care company, we work tirelessly to ensure that the quality of our products is met by the quality of the material our product comes in. For years, our founder Caroline Duell has been committed to finding an alternative to plastics and while we still haven’t found a perfect solution, we’ve gotten pretty dang close. Here’s just a few tid-bits of information we’ve learned over the years…
- Post-consumer recyclables (PCR) are a good swap for virgin plastics without sacrificing the shelf-life of the product inside [pro-tip: PCR polymers when sourced carefully can also qualify for most city recycling standards];
- If you’re going to try and go the paper route, be sure your product can handle the change without deteriorating;
- There are packaging materials – like recycled kraft paper – that have a smaller carbon footprint than plastic padding;
- Glass is heavy and shipping glass might increase the size of your carbon footprint;
- Curate plastic-free products for your customers with gift sets.
Plastic packaging is a HUGE issue for us, and always has been. We will continue to work with like-minded companies to try and find an environmental and cost-effective alternative for our product tubes.
Consider adopting a program to give back to the nonprofit organizations in your community or industry that are putting in the work to make the world a better place. Influencing policy or donating to environmental groups are also great ways for companies to have a positive impact.
Have Fun With It
Prioritizing sustainability — for everyone from your Board Members to your instagram followers — should be fun. Brainstorming out-of-the-box ways for your business to stand out from the rest while also combating climate change is what business is all about.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Getting started now and doing something, even if it’s imperfect, is better than waiting until you think your company has the time or resources to do it perfectly. No brand is too small or too new to get started.
As companies, we have the impact to influence not only how customers engage with our brand but how we can make the lives and the community of our customers better. We are proud to say that every part of our business – from sourcing products, transporting materials, and ultimately getting products into the hands of customers – is carbon neutral.
The time is now to make the term ‘business leaders’ synonymous with ‘climate leaders’. Together, we can Make EveryBody Better.