My environmental impact statement

Are you talking about environmental impact in your business? I’ve been environmentally aware since we were taught about CFCs and the ozone layer in school in the 1980s. I grew up assuming everyone was. I find myself in 2023 horrified that we still haven’t got a grip on climate change and despite knowing there are actions governments and big business can take, this is not being done.

I also know there are more actions I could be taking in my personal life that would lower my carbon footprint.

Recently, I attended a workshop on business sustainability and resilience by Adam Bastock of Small99, hosted by Allia Future Business Centre. It was eye-opening and practical.

Adam works with small businesses to get them to Net Zero. He realised that a lot of advice out there is for multinationals, while 99% of businesses in the UK have less than 49 employees. My business is one of them. Yours probably is too. There is a lot that big business can and should do but that 99% stat is remarkable. We can be part of the solution.

A hand painted sign being held up which says: There is NO Planet B
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

What is Net Zero?

Reducing emissions to Net Zero focuses on a number of greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide (CO2). It is therefore a harder standard to meet than becoming carbon neutral. The focus is also on actual reduction, rather than simply offsetting all emissions by buying credits from an organisation taking positive action. Instead of trying to make up for the emissions, you’re trying to avoid them in the first place. Some emissions are unavoidable and so these need to be offset.

The UN’s 13th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 13) focuses on taking urgent action to combat climate change. The SDGs are a global call to action and the target for delivering them was set to 2030. That’s now just 7 years away.

What’s this got to do with your business?

Climate change affects energy prices and availability. It can disrupt your supply chain. It can lead to increased costs.

Many larger companies are now only working with companies working towards Net Zero. If you want to be a supplier, then you need to be looking at the environmental impact of your company. Banks are also going to be using sustainability as a lending factor.

Adam said: “Every decision you make in your business is a sustainability one.”

A field of sunflowers beneath a blue sky. There is a wind turbine in the right hand corner of the field.
Photo by Gustavo Quepón on Unsplash

What does this mean for The Story Cave?

The Story Cave is an online business. It can operate anywhere in the world. All I need is my laptop and an internet connection. You might think that my carbon footprint was non-existent. But that’s not true.

  • Every email I send has an impact.
  • My website uses space on servers hosted in giant data centres.
  • When people visit my website, energy is used.
  • I use Zoom for meetings, this also uses energy.
  • I travel to events.
  • My computer contains metals that have had to be mined.
  • Then I’m also using electricity to keep my computer and in winter, the lights on, gas to heat my premises, and water.
  • I occasionally also print material so there is a production and waste impact from that.

This is my estimated digital footprint, calculated by Small 99’s digital emissions calculator in May 2023. (I still need to work out my wider footprint.)

Estimated footprint 0.7 tonnes CO2e or 698kg CO2e. That's 28% of the average emissions from an annual commute by car in the UK. That's equal to 2536 miles in a petrol Ford Focus. You would need to plant 350 new trees to offset it, or protect 32 mature trees.

What I’ve done

Started thinking about it. I know that sounds like a cop out but part of this is simply being aware there is an impact and a need to do something about it. You can’t tackle what you don’t know about.

I take the train to events as often as I can. I recently went to Poole for You Are The Media and I’m going to Newcastle for Atomicon and those are both train journeys.

I donated a tree for every website I wrote last year.

What I’m doing now

Looking at suppliers. I had intended to switch my hosting supplier Siteground but then found that they have improved their sustainability. Their data centre is now carbon neutral.

Investigating schemes including Ecologi to see how they work and what to do. I clearly need to be planting more trees to offset my digital footprint so I’m looking into that.

Learning what I could do to improve my website.

Deleting emails I don’t need and unsubscribing from mailing lists for products and services I’m not interested in.

Working on my Google habit. This will be good for me anyway, but there are lots of searches I probably don’t need to make and those could be done on Ecosia, which plants trees for searches, instead. Google is very good at finding specific information so there will have to be a balance there for work.

Assessing my personal carbon footprint and making a household plan to reduce it.

Looking at how to offset what I can’t deal with. I use cloud computing, I create videos, and I use images. The nature of my work means I create more digital material. Not all my suppliers will be green and so I need to offset the impact of working with them. I am also going to get the occasional taxi and I own a car, though I walk and use public transport as much as possible.

October 2023 update

This month I have joined Ecologi. This means I contribute to tree planting every month, rather than planting one for each website I write, so there are more trees.

I have also signed up to Stripe Climate and contribute 1% of all invoices paid through Stripe. I am setting aside 1% of invoices paid direct to The Story Cave Ltd and will put them towards efforts to tackle climate breakdown.

Ecosia has been my default search engine since May.

We offset our carbon footprint via Ecologi

Over to you

What actions are you taking to make your business sustainable? What else could I be doing? Let me know in the comments.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *