Businesses are often met with a barrage of different advice on how to be more sustainable. Not only can this advice be contradictory, but it seems there is always some new research criticising a solution that we thought was sustainable.
Take tree planting, for example. It’s becoming increasingly popular for companies to offset their carbon emissions by contributing to a tree planting initiative. It lowers their carbon footprint and shows customers that they’re committed to sustainability. But climate expert shave recently pointed out that reducing your carbon emissions in the first place is much more effective than offsetting them retrospectively. And some of the less reputable schemes actually damage local ecosystems by planting non-native species.
Navigating what appears to be ever-changing sustainability advice can be challenging for businesses. However, they key to having a positive impact is to see your sustainability policy as an ongoing, evolving, work-in-progress. For all of us, changing the way we live and work will take time – it’s not going to happen overnight. The important thing is to always be listening, learning and taking steps in the right direction. Here’s how you can do that.
Become carbon literate
While it can feel like the sustainability landscape is always changing, this is not necessarily the reality. Often, the issue is that an idea or solution has become popular in the mainstream – held up as a perfect, one-stop solution – without attention to nuance. You can combat this by being as informed as possible about carbon emissions, so you can make measured decisions rather than following trends.
The CarbonLiteracy Project was set up to educate people about carbon emissions and make it easier for them to calculate and reduce their carbon footprint. They assist organisations in putting together and delivering their own carbon literacy training to employees. They also allow organisations to get certified as CarbonLiterate Organisation (CLO).
Even as an individual, you can take a course with The Carbon Literacy Project, or simply do some further reading. How Bad Are Bananas? by Mike Berners Lee isa great entry-level read, offering a light-hearted breakdown of the carbon footprint of everything from flights to bananas.