Being a truly responsible business, regardless of size, means recording, measuring and reporting on our GHG emissions. But that is easier said than done. Carbon footprinting is complex and requires a lot of time and effort to gather the relevant data―especially after the fact. For small business owners, this can be a significant barrier to entry. Having completed a certification in Carbon Management earlier this year, I speak from experience that the only way in which I would be able to manage and report for my own business was through the use of software.
I searched for a long time to find a reputable, effective and affordable CO2e footprint calculator that could support me – a one-woman micro business – in producing a comprehensive audit of my GHG emissions. I finally found that in Climate Essentials. I would like to thank them for listening to my needs and concerns and adapting their platform as much as possible to ensure I, too, could report on my scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions. While there is still room for improvement across carbon footprinting platforms for one-person businesses, I am proud to be able to present my first ever carbon footprint for my business activities.
Setting a baseline is important because it gives us a starting point from which to reduce our emissions in line with science-based targets, hopefully culminating in no GHG emissions being put out into the atmosphere.
In 2021, through my various business operations, I contributed a total of 2,350 kgCO2e. You can view the Climate Essentials generated report here.
I chose 2021 as my baseline year for several reasons; but mainly because it was the first year I felt I could provide the most accurate account of what my future work initiatives would be measured against with the changing nature of my work.
As expected, it was my scope 3 (a.k.a my indirect supply chain) emissions that contributed to the bulk of my GHG contribution. As scope 3 is the hardest to reduce, they are also too often not accounted for by smaller organisations – but are critical in any Net Zero strategy.
Below is a breakdown of kgs of CO2e per scope.
Breaking down my scope 3s
2,349kg CO2e or 2.3 tonnes of GHG emissions is roughly the weight of a mature male white rhino. I’ve never tried to lift a white rhino, but just looking at one, we can imagine that it’s going to be heavy. But what does the weight of an animal have to do with my emissions? Well, as GHGs are invisible and odourless, it’s hard to imagine their combined density, so we need some kind of comparison to demonstrate that these collective emissions add up.
I have included the following categories in my scoping for this category based on total £ spent:
|Cosmetics||1,079||I have not accounted for the value of products sent to me by brands in 2021, as I didn't have a record of these and no longer request products.|
|Wearing Apparel & Textiles||98||All specialist clothing purchased was from responsible brands, namely Patagonia and Allbirds.|
|Food||200||Based on mostly a vegetarian diet for food purchased while working.|
|Computer programming & IT||38||Reduced from 318kg CO2e because my is website hosted on servers run on 100% renewable energy.|
|Online Events||25||Online events hosted/facilitated by me.|
|Waste||7||An apportioned estimated amount in relation to household waste generated.|
While I am pleased to report that my total emissions are 98% lower than the average business in my sector (I am using the creative sector as my business sector for this CO2e footprint), 90% lower in carbon intensity per employee and 71% lower by carbon intensity by revenue when benchmarked against available data – I still need to work hard at reducing these emissions through the goods and services I use to produce my work. Through various services that have come to market, I am pleased to report that I will be able to show a reduction in some scope 3 categories for 2022!
Along with actively looking at ways to reduce my energy and waste use and actively seeking out suppliers that are doing their bit to be responsible businesses, thereby reducing my scope 3 emissions immediately, I did choose to contribute to nature-based solutions as a way to offset my unavoidable emissions from 2021, so at the very least I can qualify as carbon neutral for the year.
I used Ecologi to offset 2t through investing in wind power projects in Mexico and Honduras. Click here to view the evidence for this purchase.
Through a monthly Mossy Earth membership, I supported 13 biodiversity projects and 56 trees were planted from my contribution.