Before offsetting your company’s carbon footprint it is important to try and reduce it. Carbon offsetting is part of becoming a more environmentally responsible organisation, but it should not be the first thing that you do.
One of the most important steps in becoming a more sustainable business is to calculate your carbon footprint. The better you understand where your biggest carbon use is the better you can target your efforts for maximum effectiveness.
Next, work your way through your workflow and try to reduce that amount. The following hierarchy is a good way of thinking about this:
Starting at the top, here are some ways you can avoid carbon-intensive activities –
- Fly less – take trains, buses, or fuel-efficient cars and carpool if you need to be somewhere in person
- Travel less – use an online meeting platform like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
- Ship less – use local suppliers rather than transporting goods from further away. If you need to order from overseas, try to find suppliers with good environmental practices.
- Go digital – less paper, less printing, less post.
- Work from home more – your employees each generate a carbon footprint from their commute. Working from home eliminates the commute and allows more flexibility to employees.
- Change banks – if your current bank is investing in fossil fuels then look for one that has green investment policies.
- Turn everything off – when you finish for the day, make sure everything is turned off at the wall or unplugged. There are timer boxes that you can get which will do this automatically.
Next, reduce the energy that you use for the things that you need to keep doing –
- Rethink your products or services – can you do what you do in a greener way? Can you use better source materials or move some of your services online?
- Upgrade your tech – laptops use less power than desktops (and make it easier to work from home), smaller printers use less power, etc.
- Switch to LED lights and efficient heaters or air conditioners.
- Recycle – in addition to your normal paper and plastic, also recycle your tech and office equipment when it reaches the end of its life. Even better, buy recycled too so the cycle can continue.
- Insulate – make your spaces hold heat or keep it out better.
- Talk to your suppliers – are they also committed to lowering their carbon footprints? Do they work with sustainable materials and sustainable practices? Can you work with them to make their goods and services better for the environment or do you need to consider changing your supplier?
Then, replace high carbon energy sources with low carbon energy sources.
- Switch – to an electricity provider who produces its electricity renewably.
- Go electric – replace old petrol or diesel cars with electric ones that you can run off your new renewable electricity.
- More electric – if you use petrol-powered tools, see if you can switch those to electric too.
- Make your own – look into solar panels or wind turbines to generate your own green energy.
- If you burn fuel – make sure it’s sustainable, like a managed forest wood (FSC wood) or scrap wood instead of peat or coal.
Finally, offset what is left with one of our Irish carbon offsetting projects.