A few weeks ago as a business, skinflint declared a climate emergency. As part of this, one of our aims is to encourage governments and other organisations to introduce policies and actions to ensure the UK as a country is carbon neutral by 2025.
At skinflint we think the best way to do this is to lead by example, and as part of our climate emergency declaration and company carbon audit, we have pledged to become net carbon neutral business as soon as possible, and at the latest by 2025.
Unlike large corporations, carrying out a carbon audit for a small business like skinflint is a voluntary decision. To assist us, we commissioned and conducted an independent GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) Report. As many of us are this journey to becoming carbon neutral together, and because as yet no one has all the answers, we will openly share our findings and discuss the ways in which are striving to improve, as well as sharing steps we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint. We intend to take full responsibility for our carbon footprint and will not engage in a ‘greenwashing’ attempt to make our company emissions appear lower than they are.
The results of our GHG Report
Our company emissions from the period January to December 2018 equate to 16.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (tC02e), a “very low per capita footprint for a UK retail company”. This roughly translates to 2 tonnes per employee. In addition, the “embodied carbon of our products is very low because they are being reused and brought into the circular economy rather than going for disposal or recycling.” The bulk of our carbon footprint (70%) comes from scope 1 emissions from diesel fuel used in transport operations (we’ll explain more about what the ‘scopes’ are later in this piece). Of the remainder, 17% is due to indirect scope 2 emissions from the use of grid electricity used to power our lighting displays and electrical equipment in the showroom and workshop.
What are scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions?
Greenhouse gas emissions are categorised into three categories or ‘scopes’ by the most widely-used accounting tool, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, which this report uses. Scope 1 emissions are those produced ‘in-house’ by the company. Scope 2 is purchased electricity and heat. Scope 3 is what happens outside our business, including purchased goods and services as well, transportation and distribution, business travel and employee commuting.
Scope 3 emissions - those emitted indirectly by sources not owned the company - are currently very difficult to calculate, and reporting of these as part of the GHG report is voluntary. Like other companies at this early stage of their carbon-neutral journey, scope 3 emissions have not not been included in our report, although we are aiming to include elements such as business travel in reports moving forwards. In addition, in 2019 we pledged to use the European rail network rather than flying for all our international travel.
Becoming carbon neutral
Carbon neutrality is achieved by measuring the carbon footprint of an organisation, as we’ve done here, then reducing wherever possible through rigorous examination of company practices. Whatever is left over is then offset through a third party. For the 2018 reporting year, we have more than fully offset our carbon footprint by supporting emission removal projects totalling 20 tonnes of C02e. These projects and charities are administered by the Woodland Trust, the Gold Standard Voluntary Emission Reductions scheme and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Carbon Offset Programme using Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).
As a business, our target is to work even harder. We plan to reduce emissions by 25% year on year and to continue to monitor, measure and implement the carbon management hierarchy (avoid, reduce, replace, offset) to reduce impact and adopt new carbon-neutral technology wherever possible.
Building on our existing environmental policy, this is what we pledge to do:
- The most significant source of company emissions comes from business transport. With this in mind we are currently looking at options to switch our company van to more sustainable battery electric vehicles. In the interim, we make business journeys only when necessary - and will continue to do this even when we have an electric vehicle.
- Although gas is used to heat our buildings, electricity usage is very low and well managed through procedures such as turning off equipment when not in use and ensuring computer monitors use a low energy screen saver when not in use for longer than five minutes. Like the lights we restore and sell, all of our lighting in our studio and workshop uses energy-efficient LED bulbs. We have already switched one of our two electricity suppliers to a 100% green tariff through Good Energy, and plan to switch the second to a similar green tariff when this expires in 2020. In the future hope to run our business via solar energy.
- We are actively reviewing our supply chain’s environmental policies with a view of partnering exclusively with businesses that share our vision of becoming carbon-neutral, including businesses that are plastic-free.
- In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of our packaging, we already utilise single-wall cardboard boxes that are stronger and lighter than double-wall equivalents. In a bid to improve things further, we are currently undertaking a review of all of our packaging components with a view to switching to more sustainable options wherever possible whilst offering our customers information about best recycling practice.
- We encourage our employees to use Ecosia as a search engine for all web-based searches.