My Sub Zero Journey
I joined the Million Tree Pledge (https://www.milliontreepledge.org/) in 2021, just before COP26 (Glasgow). I spent my life's savings to plant 100,000 trees in a collaborative forest, which means other small businesses can join forces with my to plant 1 million trees by 2030. Already, over 70 micro and small business owners have joined my forest. It doesn't matter if you plant a copse of 25 trees for £4.50 (the price of a posh latté!) or 10,000 trees - everyone is welcome to be part of our radical nature restoration project. Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to join our collaborative forest - we get 30 trees free!
For the Planet
I plant Mangroves in sub Saharan Africa - they are one of the best tree types to draw down carbon from our atmosphere. They alkalise our oceans; protect coastlines from storm surges and hurricanes, and provide a valuable income to indigenous communities.
I offset all my business emissions using Ecologi (https://ecologi.com/). Super proud to be part of their Earth Day campaign for Nature, 2023, "What can business do for the planet?" Watch their video short here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2bmJyFDvlc.
In March 2023, Million Tree Pledge families & friends planted 1.5k mixed species, native trees in the beautiful grounds of the South Lodge Hotel, West Sussex. Caroline Lucas joined us, along with my schoolfriend, Becca, who I hadn't seen for 25 years - #treeplantingreunited!
From Net Zero to Sub Zero
I calculated my carbon footprint in 2022 using Clean Growth UK's carbon calculator (https://www.clean-growth.uk/carbon-accounting/) as 8.29T (tonnes of CO2e.) Here's how my footprint breaks down across Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions:
Scope 1: 23.5% Scope 2: 30.9% Scope 3: 45.6%
Business Travel and Purchased Goods & Services are the biggest parts of my footprint.
I offset 100x my micro business' carbon footprint, but I'm still ambitious around emissions reduction to get way below net zero to 'sub zero'. Here are the steps I've taken so far and my plans for this year:-
DONE: Switched to Octopus' green energy tariff; eat a plant-based diet; replaced flying with low-carbon travel (drive by EV, bike, train, ferry); switched bank accounts to Triodos, Starling and Nationwide; offset monthly business emissions through a gold standard verified provider; measured Scope 1 and 2 emissions and started to measure Scope 3; educated myself about the science & solutions by studying the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership's Business Net Zero course, which I now assess on to help other SMEs like me learn.
DOING (next 3-6 months): Reduce printing and paper usage in my design and facilitation work. Buy water blades for taps and research grey water recycling. Buy pre-loved office equipment and furniture. Ride my bike 1 mile more each week to reduce car miles. Develop local 'tree guardian' scheme to protect street trees in my town from Summer drought and extreme heat. Do more outreach in secondary as well as primary schools to educate kids around how they can get involved in local positive action and to connect them to nature so they fall in love with the problem rather than get anxious about it.
LATER (6-18 months): Write a Travel and Procurement Policy to guide sustainable decision-making and tackle the bulk of my Scope 3 emissions. Look at B Corp accreditation. Invest in an air source heat pump and rainwater harvesting, plus wider improvement to my green spaces to promote biodiversity. Research how to calculate my digital footprint better. Find a good local waste management partner to manage my waste streams better. Develop a comprehensive online net zero course so any SME can access it and kickstart their journey to sub zero but also customer travel miles are minimised.