Taking the Step Toward Eco-Friendliness
Are you carbon-conscious or carbon-careless? Calculating your carbon footprint can help you assess the impact of your carbon dioxide and methane emissions on the climate – and identify ways to become a more eco-friendly organization.
On the Road to Becoming Eco-Friendly
What is a carbon footprint? Simply put, it’s a measurement of your total carbon dioxide and methane emissions – individually, by household or as an organization.
Use this online calculator to take a quick personal or household measurement of your carbon footprint. The parameters are self-explanatory, but be prepared to plug in utility costs, travel data, car mileage and efficiency and information on things like food preferences and use of packaging.
To run a similar estimate on your business, check out University of California, Berkeley’s small business calculator footprint calculator. Using data from a variety of businesses and industries, you’ll get a quick – but relatively detailed – estimate of your business’ carbon emissions, along with concrete suggestions for reducing your impact.
Once you’ve calculated your carbon footprint, then what? Here are some quick steps you can take to plug in your new knowledge:
1. Benchmark. If industry averages are available, compare your business against others in your industry. Does this reveal any obvious areas in need of improvement? Are you doing anything especially well?
2. Reduce 10 percent. You have a wealth of options. For example, reduce commuting miles 10 percent by allowing staff to telecommute two days a month. Replace inefficient equipment, appliances and light bulbs with eco-friendly alternatives.
3. Do more good. Redouble your recycling efforts (using a shredding service means your recycling used office paper). Plant trees: Not only do they filter the air and reduce carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, but a well-placed tree that shades your cooling system will reduce energy costs year after year.
4. Can’t do more yourself? Consider carbon offsets. Although some question the validity of wiping your karmic slate clean with offsets – which include investments in clean energy, conservation or reforestation projects – finding a program you believe in and investing your dollars can be a vote for progress.
Finally, ask for help. Utility companies may offer energy audits and other advice on reducing consumption. Seek out carbon-conscious companies to do business with (like Sergeant Shredder), and ask for suggestions to make your business more carbon compliant. Bring your employees on board – by soliciting their ideas for making improvements at work, or sharing their personal successes. Bonus: Eco-friendly actions can equal savings on your energy, vehicle and travel bills. Who says carbon accountability and being eco-friendly doesn’t pay?