Sustainability, Tips, Work

How big is your footprint really?

Your Carbon Footprint that is…

We are proactive in reducing our carbon footprint and being aware of our impact and possibilities to reduce our impact on our environment.  In addition to trying our air travel, through Climate Friendly, and wanted to offset the emissions of our other (essential) emissions-intensive activities.

Climate Friendly works with corporations, businesses and individuals to measure, manage, and offset their carbon footprint, by  providing a quick and easy calculation tool, to take action immediately.  While these tools allow you to calculate offsets for flights, electricity and car travel, we wanted to offset more than those things, so we sent an email to Climate Friendly to see if they could help.  They quickly responded and sent us spreadsheet for us to fill in and  return to them to finish the calculations.

Before we could complete the spreadsheet, we needed obtain certain figures, make calculations and implement procedures to produce more accurate figures — so we thought we’d share how we went about doing it…

The first figure we tackled was our electricity, dividing the KW usage (from our electricity bill) by 5 working days, divided by the staff members.

For paper consumption, we went through our invoices and extracted all paper purchases i.e. A4 80gsm, A4 110gsm, FlipChart per 60gsm etc. worked out an average over the period of time and tracked it in a spreadsheet.

Taxi travel and freight figures were extracted from our cashflow reports from our accounting system.  For paper waste, we didn’t empty our 7 litre recycling bin for 4 weeks and measured how much we filled it for that period.

At the end of the day these figures are not absolute, but by continually measuring our consumption, our hope is that we’ll no longer be grappling for figures, working on guesstimates or making assumptions.  We’ll have a more comprehensive understanding of how big our footprint really is.

So what’s our consumption?

While we don’t have the capacity to do a beautiful and detailed rendering of our footprint such as the one Digital Eskimo have undertaken, in the interests of transparency, the figures we calculated for an 11 month period, 01/02/10 – 31/12/10, were:

  • Electricity: 1464.14 KW = 6.3 Tonnes
  • Paper usage: 2916 sheets
  • Waste Paper:  1.75 L per week
  • Food: <100gm per week
  • Flights: 2.85 tonnes (5 flights)1

Freight & taxi travel were both measured in dollar figures — Climate Friendly will notify us of the consumption once they have made the calculations.

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve undertaken a similar process of measuring and/or offsetting. And any feedback on better approaches, tools you’ve found useful etc. would also be much appreciated.

Over the next 12 months we will continue to monitor our consumption, making adjustments to reduce our impact even further, whilst measuring our progress and overall success. And we’ll be sure to share the results as we continue on the journey…

1 For a variety of reasons we offset any flights both with our flight provider and Climate Friendly (essentially double-offsetting).