Your Small Business Carbon Footprint

by Cindy on June 11, 2009

Alot of talk about Carbon Footprint — what does it mean, how can a small business reduce it’s footprint.

What does it mean?

According to Wikipedia — A carbon footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product” (UK Carbon Trust 2008). An individual, nation, or organization’s carbon footprint is measured by undertaking a GHG emissions assessment. Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it.

Carbon offsets, or the mitigation of carbon emissions through the development of alternative projects such as solar or wind energy or reforestation, represent one way of managing a carbon footprint.

The concept and name of the carbon footprint originates from the ecological footprint discussion.[1] The carbon footprint is a subset of the ecological footprint

OK, what is Ecological footprint?

The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It compares human demand with planet Earth’s ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to regenerate the resources a human population consumes and to absorb and render harmless the corresponding waste. Using this assessment, it is possible to estimate how much of the Earth (or how many planet Earths) it would take to support humanity if everybody lived a given lifestyle.

So how can a Small Business reduce it’s footprint?  Some ideas are:

  • Reduce transportation 

    • By connecting with customers and vendors via telephone, email or the internet you reduce the carbon emissions produced by the vehicles used for travel.
    • Conducting meetings using telephone, webinars, and internet tools.
    • Conducting business using web transactions, email invoicing, email and internet tools
    • Purchase items locally; supplies, food, etc. 
  • Reduce office electricity

    • Turn off all non-essential office equipment at night or when your office is empty.
    • Install or utilize timers for heating and air-conditioning.  Turn off air conditioners at night or to the highest temperature your products can handle when the office is closed.
  • Reduce office waste

    • Use products made with post-consumer waste (recycled) materials; paper, ink cartridges
    • Use electronic marketing materials whenever possible; brochures, flyers, presentations — only print hard copies when absolutely necessary or required.
    • Use electronic record keeping software.
    • Recycle all paper, ink cartridges, bottles, cans.
  • Identify recycling options for production processes

    • Implement procedures to use recycled waste into your production processes.
    • Purchase items used in production locally whenever possible or from suppliers close to your production locations to reduce delivery transportation.
    • Research and recycle back into production all waste materials. 
    • Use products made with post-consumer waste (recycled) materials; paper, ink cartridges.
  • Hire Telecommuting or Virtual Employees

    • Reduces transportation emissions, gas consumption
    • Reduces utilities
    • Reduces office space and equipment
    • Uses electronic record keeping and communications

 By making these small changes your business can not only help the environment but reduce costs as well.

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