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Posted on 2022-03-22

A Guide to Carbon Calculation and Offsetting

Global CO2 emissions have increased from 2 billion tons in 1900 to a staggering 36.5 billion tons in 2018, equalling 4.07 metric tons CO2 for the global average carbon footprint per capita. While it’s easy to read such data and largely stay distant from the issue, it is important to acknowledge that every individual or entity contributes to the 36.5 billion tons. 

To avoid a catastrophic 2OC rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop to under 2 tons by 2050.

The target, whether on a personal, organisational, regional, or global level, is to set sustainable goals and execute. 

Global statistics for carbon footprint

Although the average human releases about 4.07 tons of CO2 every year indeed, it should be noted that per capita emissions are far greater among developed countries than in developing countries. 

The EU average is about 13.8 tons COper capita, while the same stands at 25 tons COper capita for the US. 

While it is true that electric power enterprises are the largest company contributors, playing the blame game does little to offset the impacts of climate change.

Calculating carbon footprint and understanding its impact

On the individual level, home and office energy usage, travel, meals, and stays in hotel rooms are considered to calculate the carbon footprint. 

For company calculations, the entire value chain of the product or service offered by the organisation must be taken into consideration. Business calculations include office emissions through energy consumption, natural gas, electricity, heating oil, propane, servers, fleet, employee travel, and commute. 

Myclimate.orgcarbonfund.org, and www3.epa.gov are some of the resources available online to help business start their journey towards tackling climate change issues. Having a handle over personal or business-wide data helps us understand our contribution to combating climate change. 

How certain business initiatives are contributing to the cause

In a bid to foster environmental sustainability in the workplace, several companies worldwide, including Microsoft, have undertaken the oath to become carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative. Carbon-neutral companies offset their emissions completely. Carbon-negative companies on the other hand strive to achieve a level of sustainability that positively impacts the environment. 

Carbon offsetting, e.g. by means of purchasing carbon credits or tree planting, is the term used to define contributions towards reversing the emission curve. A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different greenhouse gas.

On the question of how to reduce carbon footprint, business firms can undertake several missions, including usage of renewable energy sources, or even simply regulating the office thermostat. But to scale the impact on a broader level, unhindered and constant efforts is the need of the hour. 

EcoMatcher to combat carbon offsetting

EcoMatcher understands that businesses may not have all the time and resources to spend on organizing, planning, and sustaining eco-friendly ventures and that using a helping hand in this forte could go a long way. EcoMatcher provides transparent solutions to incorporate corporate tree planting into the business without it necessarily being a one-off campaign that’s held once a year, for the sake of tax rebates. Instead, EcoMatcher connects vetted foundations or NGOs specialized in tree-planting from around the world and companies to work hand in hand on a regular basis in a transparent way. 

Incorporating the strategy for environmental change in rewards and loyalty programs doesn’t just act towards the cause but also increases brand value in the customer’s and employee’s eyes. As part of the value proposition, customers and employees can make virtual visits to all trees planted through a simple web and mobile iOS/Android app. Not only that, each tree planted is also monitored by local communities in order to ensure unhinged success stories. 

EcoMatcher’s radical strategy to improve the participation of larger organisations in the battle against climate change takes the responsibility off the hands of the company through simple outsourcing. EcoMatcher contributes to global reforestation by channelling monetary resources of large organisations into the livelihood of farmers who walk the talk of tree planting on the daily.

The way forward- policies for change

After the agreed 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement points to worldwide commitments to climate action in order to keep the 2OC rise in temperature. The G20 is responsible for 80% of emissions and are in the thick of framing policy towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. Governments across the globe are increasingly setting up policies that help the causes of the UN and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 

Canada, Europe, and other world leaders already recognise the impetus that small businesses can provide to the UN SDG and are setting up policies that accelerate sustainability innovation. Countries are now looking at revamping entire subsidy systems for the energy and food industries. Carbon tax and the incentivising of carbon farming are Bills on the tables of several parliaments across the globe, ready to be turned into Acts. 

In the light of these policies coming into effect the following decade, EcoMatcher could be a great partner for every company’s CSR policies to take flight. By connecting companies, communities, and consumers through transparent tree-planting, EcoMatcher provides a one-stop solution to the economy of the climate crisis.

Posted on 2021-11-04

From Beer to Ironing Shirts: The Carbon Footprint of Daily Activities

Think about a pizza. What do you imagine? The flavors, for one. Perhaps the ingredients and what you could order to accompany that pizza. Where you might order it from, or whether you can make it yourself at home. Whatever it is, we can guess what probably doesn’t come to mind: the pizza’s carbon footprint. 

It’s true — everything we use, do, and encounter in our everyday life has a carbon footprint of its own. For example, in the case of hard cheese for your pizza, making just 1 KG generates 12 KG of CO2. That’s more CO2 than what is emitted when you burn one gallon of gasoline in your car! 

The world is currently rallying to meet the climate change mitigation targets first laid out in the 2015 Paris Accord. Alongside other factors, one of the most critical actions highlighted in this manifesto is overhauling consumption and production patterns. That sounds like a bunch of big terms, but what it really means is taking a magnifying lens to our daily habits, many of which seem harmless but add up in big numbers.

Why should we look at the carbon footprint of daily activities?

According to Mike Berners-Lee, the renowned author of “How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything”, carbon is a lot like money in one way: when we want something really expensive, we cut costs somewhere else to justify the purchase. Berners-Lee wants the world to become as attuned with the carbon footprint of daily activities are its financial costs.

Admittedly, it is a tough ask. We do thousands of things every day, some intentionally but most automatically. We text a friend when we’re bored, binge movies on a long weekend, buy groceries when we’re running out… the list goes on. While some environmental impacts are straightforward (like driving a petrol car), we also indirectly emit CO2 because we must account for indirect factors (processing fuel, producing and maintaining the car). These are toe prints, but they’re not to be ignored because they can also pile up. 

So why do we need to question all of this? 

Here’s why: human activities resulted in a whopping 42.1 billion tonnes of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere in 2019 alone. According to The World Counts, that’s a significant uptick from previous years and quite an alarming figure. 

There’s also the very valid argument that consumption feeds production, and they form a vicious cycle that can be very hard to break. We’re currently being “stuffocated” because our latest problem isn’t scarcity, it’s abundance. This “stuffocation” has adverse environmental impacts and deeply affects the human psyche and general mental health. In addition to this, manufacturers and high-carbon-emitting industries often indulge in a misdirection of attention to distract consumers from the elephant in the room: their supply chain, cheap labor, or environmentally damaging resources. 

By taking matters into our own hands and making changes at the grassroots level, we’re able to turn the tide. We can command environmentally-friendly changes in supply chains and production cycles — aspects that we would ordinarily have no power over at an individual level. 

What is the carbon footprint of some of our daily activities?

Mike Berners-Lee breaks down the carbon footprint of a hundred things in his book — here are a few to put things into perspective. 

An email that takes 10 minutes to write and goes to 100 people = 26g CO2e

An email’s carbon footprint comes mainly from the electricity needed to power the process: booting the device, keeping it running while typing, storing the email, and powering the internet required to send it.

To reduce your email carbon footprint, you can:

  • Reduce email size by compressing images and lowering resolutions
  • Pruning mailing lists 
  • Unsubscribing from spam and newsletters 
  • Regularly deleting emails from your inbox
  • Replacing attachments with links or online information

Ironing a very crumpled shirt = 40g CO2e

According to Berners-Lee, ironing five shirts a week for a year is equivalent to driving 7 miles in an average car. It’s not the worst thing to happen to the environment, but it offers room to cut down on carbon emissions with pretty regular alternatives. 

To reduce your carbon footprint here, you can:

  • Reduce how frequently you iron 
  • Iron while the shirt is slightly damp to dry and press at once (this will reduce emissions from using a dryer)

A kilo of lamb = 39.2kg CO2e

An AWG/CleanMetrics report found that eating a kilo of lamb meat is equivalent to driving about 90 miles (145 kilometers)! While a percentage of the carbon footprint is attributed to shipping in the case of imports, most of it is produced by the animals’ digestion and farm operations. It’s a similar story with other meat types — the meat and dairy industry accounts for nearly 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

To reduce your carbon footprint here, you can:

  • Reduce or cease consumption of red meat (reduces footprint by a quarter)
  • Go vegetarian (this halves the carbon footprint) or vegan 

A pint of beer = 780g CO2e

A single tree would need almost two whole months to offset carbon emissions from just one six-pack of beer. Of course, this will fluctuate depending on whether the beer was locally brewed or imported, and it also depends on the ingredients, packaging, transport, electricity, and brewing equipment.

To reduce the carbon footprint of your weekly pint, you can:

  • Drink locally brewed and sourced beer
  • Reduce your beer intake 
  • Switch to cider

Note: These numbers aren’t set in stone — they fluctuate depending on geographic location, production, supply chains, and other external factors. They also increase or decrease over the years but can still help you understand the impact of each daily habit.

How can we reduce our day-to-day carbon footprint?

The problem with scary numbers is that we end up giving up and focusing on something easier. However, there’s a lot we can do at an individual level to make carbon-conscious choices. There are readily available alternatives for many things we consume every day, even if we can’t think of them yet. 

It helps to start by setting a goal or target worth achieving. Berners-Lee proposes a 10-tonne diet, i.e., a lifestyle that emits a maximum of 10 tonnes of CO2 per person per year. For perspective, the global average is 4 tonnes, but average Australians and Americans have an average individual footprint of almost 30 tonnes per year. So, while this number may seem low, it is achievable if we’re intentional about it. 

If you’d like to create more of an impact, you can try carbon offsetting, i.e., participating in an activity that reduces carbon emissions to compensate for the unavoidable emissions elsewhere. If you travel a lot for work, you might consider shifting to video calls instead, to reduce emissions. But to offset the emissions of the travel plans you do have to follow through with, you can plant trees — which just so happen to be the greatest carbon sinks in the world. With EcoMatcher’s carbon calculator, available on its free mobile app (Apple App Store / Google Play Store), you can super quickly calculate your annual footprint, and take action!

While becoming carbon-conscious means consistently making a lot of trade-offs, it doesn’t have to mean living a life of scarcity. We can still enjoy life — the focus is on cutting out the excess in a way that actually frees us from the vicious cycle of consumption. 

It’s also a lot about picking our battles and not getting caught up in petty debates. Living an environmentally friendly, carbon-conscious lifestyle gets tougher and easier by the day: tougher because the world is globalized, but easier because there’s a lot more information out there!

Posted on 2021-06-09

What Does it Mean to Live a Net Zero Carbon Lifestyle?

When you look at numbers around climate change, the chances of understanding them are probably slim. They feel abstract and far removed, especially if they’re on a global scale. Unfortunately, that’s preventing us from making massive and necessary changes to bring climate change under control. They make climate action feel inaccessible and only for the larger organizations, which is far from true (although that doesn’t mean individual action will resolve everything). 

Rosalind Redhead, the Independent London Mayoral Candidate for 2021, aims to humanize these numbers and outline changes that can be made beyond ‘reduce, reuse and recycle.’ And how is she doing that? Since 2019, she’s following a One Tonne Diet to create a net-zero carbon lifestyle.

This lifestyle change is more challenging than any out there by far. It involves reducing her total carbon emissions from every element in her life—food, transport, drink, data, showers, entertainment, etc.—to less than one tonne per year. 

The net-zero lifestyle and one-tonne diet in context

Once again, we’re faced with the same problem: What do these numbers and terms even mean? 

To explain this, we can draw insights from a book by Professor Mike Berners-Lee called “How bad are bananas? The carbon footprint of everything”. 

Let’s begin with an assumption. Let’s say we try to imagine a year’s worth of 10-tonne carbon living. If we ate a large cheeseburger, it has a carbon footprint measuring 2.5 kg, equal to two hours of a year.

Okay, what if you drove a particularly fuel-guzzling car for 1,600 kilometers (1000 miles)? The carbon emissions from that are worth an entire month in a 10-tonne carbon year. 

And if you took a flight from Los Angeles to Barcelona, you’d burn a whopping 4.5 tonnes of carbon, which is half a year’s carbon ration gone in a few hours. 

Now you see how even the smallest activities can increase your carbon footprint to giant-size. And by now, it’s probably easier to grasp just how crazy a net-zero lifestyle sounds. 

What is the point of such an exercise? According to Professor Berners-Lee, “our impacts used to be local and visible.” Today, however, hardly anyone knows exactly how much of an impact any of their actions have, however base: whether that’s eating a banana, or making a surprise trip to see a friend halfway across the world. The professor also says that it’s unimaginably hard to bring one’s lifestyle to a 3-tonne limit — but we have Rosalind Redhead attempting to bring that number down to 1 tonne. She admits it’s a “performance piece,” but the bizarreness of it all is just what we need to contextualize our every action in the grander scheme of things. 

Why do we need this net-zero lifestyle perspective?

It’s natural for humans to distract themselves from larger issues, but there comes a time when these issues need to be tackled head-on. We’re at such a precipice right now, where we can’t afford to hide our heads in the sands any longer. 

Unfortunately, climate action is a large, murky, and highly subjective area. What works for you might not work for someone else on the other side of the world as it has different economic, social and environmental repercussions. Therefore, it’s easier to be distracted by generic or catch-all climate action points that don’t help as much as they’re said to.

As written in Professor Berners-Lee’s book, choosing between an electric hand dryer and paper towels to dry hands is trivial, almost a non-action, when performed by someone who flies around the world a dozen times a year. Large industries would rather guilt the population into using reusable coffee mugs than do something about the fact that 70% of the world’s pollution comes from building, transportation, and the production of electricity. The transport industry would rather market electric cars as the way of the future than support zero-carbon transport methods such as cycling or walking. 

The point is this: the more abstract and far from home climate change numbers are, the more likely we will be greenwashed and misguided in our otherwise sincere efforts. 

The net-zero carbon lifestyle is nigh impossible for most of us living in cities and carrying out thousands of seemingly insignificant actions in a day. It’s a challenging experiment, though, if only to give us a sense of scale and perspective that we sorely need. We’re currently living in a false dichotomy of “system OR individual.” But we need to shift to the reality that our individual actions have cascading effects, but they need to work in tandem with top-to-bottom efforts from major players. 

How to begin working towards a net-zero lifestyle

If you’re interested in this radical experiment or just want to know what your carbon footprint is looking like at the moment, you’ll need to take things step-by-step. 

1.   Make a list of every choice you make and calculate its carbon emissions

To begin understanding your individual carbon impact, you’ll first need to list out every single action you take in a day, a week, or a month. The key is to really get into the nitty-gritty; identify both the big actions and the smaller tasks that seem insignificant because they all add up in the end. Then list out the carbon footprint of each of these, preferably using Professor Berners-Lee’s book as it’s the most transparent. 

You can begin by going through your daily routine step by step, or use the following categories that Rosalind Redhead does:

  • Transport: walking, cycling, private car, subway, taxi, autorickshaw, bus, bullet train, etc.
  • Data: online videos, blogs and websites, social media, communication apps, wifi or personal data, TVs, smartphones, smart speakers
  • Food: number of meals, ingredients and their sources, purchases, exotic versus local ingredients

2.   Maintain a journal to calculate the impact of each action

In a paper or online journal, record every single action you take in a day and review the total carbon emissions at the end of the day. If you’d like a long-term perspective, go ahead and calculate the emissions for a year using your current readings — you might be shocked to see what your carbon footprint might look like even without, say, traveling.

From here, it’s a great idea to identify what you can remove, reduce or substitute to reduce your impact. For example, if you spent an hour mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, replacing that with a walk outside is an instant net-zero win. 

Calculate your emissions the right way!

The internet has no shortage of carbon footprint calculators, but if you’ve shied away from using them, you’re not to blame. They can be clunky and heavy on data, making them very unpleasant to use for an already unpleasant task.

Luckily, EcoMatcher is currently creating the next generation of carbon footprint calculators that uses advanced data for accurate results while also being delightful to use. Keep your eyes peeled until then!

The final word

Human-made climate breakdown is accelerating faster than expected, so we’re all in dire need of a reality check. Attempting to live a lower-carbon lifestyle also has ripple effects on climate activism and government policies.

If we’re all able to understand how we contribute and what changes are needed at a personal scale, we’d be much more knowledgeable about what steps to take as a community, then a state, and then a country!

Posted on 2019-11-13

The Basics of a Carbon Footprint

With climate change issues taking over government agendas, and sustainable development goals being given the topmost priority by individuals and corporates alike, the term “carbon footprint” has gained incredible traction over the past couple of years. Carbon footprints are essentially used to denote the full extent of direct or indirect carbon emissions (along with other supplemental greenhouse gases) released into the environment, which is relevant to climate change and is a result of human production and consumption activities. A carbon footprint can be calculated or estimated for an individual, an organisation, or even an entire nation. The climate change impact resulting from each activity is estimated by calculating the carbon footprint, which includes not just carbon dioxide but also methane and nitrous oxide. 

Understanding carbon footprint and its impact

Though the term may be a colloquial way of understanding the impact human beings have had on environmental change, carbon footprints are a vital part of our comprehensive and encompassing ecological footprint. 

According to eminent scientists and environmental advocates seeking climate change solutions, carbon footprint can be divided broadly into two categories:

Direct Emissions or Primary Footprint

This category of carbon footprint results from activities that lead to the emission of Carbon Dioxide and other supplemental greenhouse gases, through direct combustion of fossil fuels. Consequently, all activities resulting in direct emissions have an immediate impact on the environment, also adversely affecting natural resources therein. For example, CO2 emissions from driving a car, flying an airplane, or even using electronic devices fall under this category. 

Indirect Emissions or Secondary Footprint 

This category of carbon footprint is used to denote emissions that are a consequence of an indirect relation with certain activities pertaining to human consumption, such as purchasing an internationally manufactured T-shirt. When an individual purchases an item, all emissions released into the environment due to manufacturing and transportation of that item would fall under the ambit of indirection emissions, also known as a secondary footprint. Additionally, this kind of emission also takes into account what happens after the said product is used, including the amount taken by the material of the product to degrade naturally, and the consequences of the breakdown process on the environmental health.

How do carbon footprints work?

A technical definition of what carbon footprint is can be described as a measurement of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, in relation to the emission of other greenhouse gases relative to one unit of carbon dioxide. A lot of factors are taken into consideration while calculating a carbon footprint. For example, driving to the mall burns a given amount of fuel, which emits greenhouse gases. This might be your carbon footprint at a given time. However, the mall you’ve driven to also has its own contribution to carbon footprint as a whole business. This includes electricity, equipment used, items that were shipped for selling, emissions during manufacturing processes, individual employee contribution among other reasons. All of these elements combine to lend a better understanding of carbon footprint from a certain activity. 

Individuals and organisations advocating for the overall health of the environment try and reduce their carbon footprint by reducing activities that lead to greenhouse gas emission. Alternatively, some people come up with sustainable lifestyle choices like switching to renewable energy sources, conservation of water, tree planting to promote global goals for sustainable development. 

You may calculate your carbon footprint by taking into account the total sum of carbon dioxide emissions induced by your activities in a given time frame. There are various charts, online calculators which may assist you in personally understanding what your carbon footprint is, thereby enabling you to re-evaluate which activities you need to refrain from, to reduce your carbon footprint while aiming for sustainable development. 

Why calculate your organisation’s carbon footprint?

Climate change brings untoward risks to businesses as well as economies; therefore, it is paramount to not only understand what your organisation’s carbon footprint is but also to reduce it in a timely manner. The reduction of the carbon footprints is essentially an optimisation process for your organisation, which would mean that reduction in the carbon footprint of an organisation or company would streamline business and production operations to an optimal point. Additionally, it also implies cost savings for the organisation as many factors leading to an increased carbon footprint involve excessive and non-optimised energy usage. Therefore, not only does your business engage in its corporate social responsibility and foster global sustainability goals while incorporating environmental sustainability projects, but also save up on costs for the organisation, thereby increasing their profit as well. Other than minimising energy usage, organisations may also bolster their company’s and provide a feasible solution to the reduction of the carbon footprint by engaging in projects such as corporate tree planting for sustainability, spreading awareness of how cutting down trees affect the climate, and implementing recycling of waste. Partnerships with reforestation companies like EcoMatcher can help your organisation to promote a more sustainable way of living. Gift or adopt a tree or walk the extra mile and plant a forest!   

Why is combatting carbon footprints essential?

In order to achieve a world where our posterity can enjoy the fruits of our labour, we need to understand that minimising our carbon footprint is the way forward, or at least, the first step forward to achieving true sustainable development. Some measures that can be taken by individuals, governments or organisations to eliminate carbon dioxide are to encourage reforestation and to inform their fellow peers of how reforestation will combat climate change as well as aid humans in preserving this planet. It stands to reason that since humans are responsible for the emission of most greenhouse gases and the adverse effect they have on the environment, they should be the ones who strive to effectively reduce, if not eliminate, their carbon footprint from the planet and preserve the environment.

Conclusion

Each and every individual is an active contributor to the carbon footprint that they leave behind on this planet, whether directly, or indirectly. Organisations and companies leave behind an even bigger carbon footprint on the planet, adversely affecting the environment we live in. The need of the hour is to actively reduce and eventually work towards completely eliminating all carbon footprint in the coming few years so as to preserve the sanctity of our environment and the world that we live in. 

Posted on 2019-11-07

What is Sustainable Tourism?

An ever-evolving and rapidly growing industry, there seems to be no place in the world that remains untouched as far as tourism is concerned. Where tourism helps in generating local revenue and also acts as a catalyst in the growth of the local economy, it also prompts concerns that can adversely affect the ecological balance of a destination. This means that if not appropriately managed, tourism may sometimes cause problems that may lead to environmental issues, and that may, in turn, negatively impact the local communities. With global sustainability goals in mind and analyzing the impacts of climate change on the environment, substantial changes are being brought about in the way the whole tourism industry functions. Bringing about sustainability has become one of the major defining factors of tourism in the present times. Various measures are taken to conserve the biodiversity of a tourist destination, which includes establishing a proper balance between environmental, social and economic factors of any destination.

We all are aware of how does cutting down trees affect the climate. The aim of sustainable development is achieved by increasing the green cover of the planet and undertaking tree planting initiatives. Many corporate organizations and smaller businesses are also actively working towards promoting sustainable tourism to combat the effects of climate change and promote environmental sustainability. 

What is sustainable tourism?

Tourism, an out-and-out people-oriented industry, helps in generating revenues and booming the local economy of a given destination. However, the loss of heritage, social dislocation, ecological degradation, and other such factors can impact the ecology and economy of a place. Sustainable tourism walks along the same path in being an industry that aims to generate employment opportunities for local people while ensuring that adverse impacts on the environment and local communities are negligible. In simple words, sustainable tourism involves taking into account any probable or possible impacts of tourism on the present and future social, environmental and economic structure of a place and it includes taking measures to conserve the biodiversity and cultural heritage of that place. The whole idea of sustainable tourism is that it aims to ensure sustainable development goals that have a positive impact on locals, tourists and tourism companies. 

Aims and objectives of sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is not only about implementing sustainability practices in place but also aiming to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.  In lieu of global goals for sustainable development, sustainable tourism has a considerable role to play. Here is a lowdown of certain goals that can be achieved: 

Preserve and conserve the sanctity of a place

This involves appreciating the sanctity and purity of the environment and making efforts in reducing any kind of pollution, including air, water, and sound amongst others.

Preserve the biodiversity

Efforts must be taken to reduce the impact on the ecological balance of the place that may directly or indirectly affect the wildlife or natural surroundings. 

Optimally utilize the available resources

Both renewable and non-renewable resources should be utilised in the most efficient and effective manner. Also, measures must be taken to encourage the locals and tourists to also optimally reduce misuse and prevent waste.  

Increase employment

The tourism industry is on the boom, and this leads to a considerable increase in the scope of employment. One of the aims of sustainable tourism is to generate ample avenues and opportunities for people to get employed. 

To create awareness

It is important to educate people and create awareness about the positive impacts of sustainable tourism in protecting our cultural and natural heritage. It is also essential to initiate and pledge personal commitment by adopting various methods of sustainable tourism practices.

Sustainable tourism and its contribution to maintaining ecological balance

Tourism is one of the significant contributors to GDP around the world, and it would be imperative to say that many countries depend on tourism for their economic growth. However, it is also important to essential to understand that this is a complex industry. If managed properly, tourism can get the economy booming, and if not, then it may damage the social systems, damage natural resources, cause pollution and lead to large scale environment destruction. Therefore, to maintain proper harmony between all the above factors, sustainable tourism is the way out! 

How to measure the impact of sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism can help in achieving environmental sustainability while offering climate change solutions. Now, the question arises as to what can be done to establish the impact of sustainable tourism towards managing environmental change? Well, the simplest way of measuring the impact is through setting certain benchmarks. A benchmarking system can not only help in establishing the progress in a specific sector but also acts as a great parameter is comparing performances with other competitors. Some examples include consumption of water per guest per day, energy and electricity usage and various other such benchmarks. With such kinds of parameters in place, sustainable tourism is no longer a rhetorical aim. Businesses can also benefit greatly in setting benchmarks towards contributing to environmental sustainability projects. A few examples of sustainable tourism initiatives from across the world include a solar-powered resort in Fiji, which runs completely on solar power and is also equipped with rainwater harvesting. Another example is Bhutan, also called the “land of controlled tourism”. The country charges high daily tariffs and maintains strict entry to keep the principle of ‘high value, low impact’ intact.

Conclusion

The tourism industry has exploded in the last couple of decades, thanks to the increasing interest in travel and easy access to disposable incomes. However, this sudden expansion is causing a considerable strain on the tourism industry as well as disrupting the ecological balance of a destination. Sustainable tourism is a boon that can help in controlling and minimizing the ill-effects of tourism on the social, economic and environmental aspects. Also, brownie points for you, if you have a business or own a corporate house since sustainable tourism might work in your favor to help you contribute towards sustainability. Joining hands with an organization like EcoMatcher that promotes corporate tree planting for sustainability can only work as a boon. A platform like this that can not only help in reforestation to combat climate change but can also offer various avenues in initiating both employee and customer interest towards global goals for sustainable development. 

Posted on 2019-10-09

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint as a Team

In the general global goals for sustainable development, reducing or erasing the carbon footprint of an organisation ranks high. However, that’s easier said than done, when there is panoply of factors and individuals to consider.

The carbon footprint of a company is the measurement of how much that company is contributing to the greenhouse gases that are accelerating global climate change. Every organisation, indeed every individual, has a carbon footprint– the intensity of it depends on what the company is and what they do. Enterprises and manufacturing companies can contribute directly to increasing carbon footprints, while smaller firms do so indirectly, through energy and electricity consumption, even their daily commutes. 

As a smaller team or one that’s not directly involved in the organisation’s sustainable development goals, it’s quite challenging to tackle the larger problems such as emissions, waste disposal and the footprint of franchises. However, there are quite a few environmentally sustainable work practices that can effectively snowball into broader climate change solutions. 

Measure Your Carbon Footprint First

The springboard to adopting the right sustainable environmental practices is to measure your firm’s carbon footprint first. Use a free emissions calculator or a government-approved generator to find out what level your footprint is at. Once done, you can strategize accordingly and decide to do something about it. This is also a good benchmark to come back to later, when your carbon-cutting strategy is in full swing and you want to see if it’s effective enough. 

Make Energy-Saving Habits Compulsory

There are plenty of energy-saving behaviours that are simple to put in place yet positively impact carbon-cutting in the long run. Make these a compulsory practice to maintain environmental sustainability in the workplace. If you find employees doing this of their own accord, that’s well and good, but if they’re being implemented in a lax manner, consider attaching some rewards or recognition factors to up the ante.

Something as simple as shutting down office computers, instead of leaving them on standby, can have a positive impact– a lone computer running for 24 hours can produce 1,500 pounds of CO2 emissions in a year. Turn off all lights when a space is not in use and consider motion-sensitive lighting for rarely used corridors and hallways. Enable timers on photocopy machines and other hefty equipment so they turn off automatically when not in use. 

Bring In Green Employee Engagement Programs

Employee engagement programs are used to motivate and encourage employees to perform their best, as well as reward them for successful milestones. For an interesting, sustainable twist, consider revamping old-school points and money programs into ones that involve helping the environment and being a part of something bigger.

Consider initiating a ‘plant a tree’ program, or partnering with a firm like EcoMatcher that makes corporate tree planting for sustainability seamless and fully digital. If you have the funds and the motivation, consider planting an entire forest and encouraging your employees to virtually look after one or two. Successful employee engagement strategies can be a massive boost in morale, both on the individual as well as the corporate front. 

This is easily extendable to corporate gifting programs. If your team is hosting VIPs or is leading a conference, consider gifting plants, saplings or fully-grown trees to them, by purchasing them on EcoMatcher’s TreeShop. 

Maintain Optimum Thermostat Or Air-Conditioning Temperatures

Air conditioning temperatures are a point of disagreement in almost every office. There’s one way to find a middle ground, and a sustainable one at that­– maintaining temperatures between 24ºC and 27ºC depending on the weather. This makes the system more energy-efficient, thereby reducing electricity consumption and expenditure. In the longer run, lowering energy consumption on such a scale can reduce a company’s carbon footprint multi-fold, especially when implemented by other teams. 

The same tips apply for heating systems in colder regions. Maintaining a level temperature throughout the year and encouraging employees to dress accordingly instead will reduce energy consumptions by a significant amount. 

Establish Carpool And Shared Transport Systems

One of the fastest ways to drop your carbon emissions is to reduce travel. Teams must encourage employees to carpool based on location if possible. On a larger scale, companies can establish shared transport systems– buses or shared cars– that service specific routes and pick up and drop off employees. The benefits of shared transport are multi-fold, because it reduces carbon emissions and allows employees to network beyond their teams, which could lead to more innovation and cohesiveness. 

On a smaller scale, teams can endeavour to reduce trips by vehicles outside the office. This could be meetings with clients or by working remotely; by using video call and web conference platforms, you can easily avoid unnecessary trips while getting work done in a collaborative atmosphere. Tie this in with employee engagement programs if required– say, the more an employee cuts down on trips, the higher their incentive, or the more trees they have to their name in an adopted forest. 

Reduce Waste In The Workplace

This standard sustainability tip can go a long way when implemented in an organisation regularly. It’s also sound business-wise because the team’s contribution to overall expenses drops significantly. Consider recycling old or outdated documents instead of just trashing them. In the pantry, swap out single-use supplies for more sustainable steel or wood counterparts. Buy organic or Fair-Trade edibles and partner with a company to compost wet waste from the larger kitchens. 

Run Employee Education Programs

Most programs will come to a standstill if employees don’t want to follow through, aren’t encouraged to do so, or simply don’t know what difference it’s going to make. Top-down programs fare far worse, as employees see it as a compulsory involvement, not one that personally benefits them. This is why team efforts count! To make bigger changes at the top rungs, it starts from the bottom. Consider setting up programs that make employees understand just how important their contribution is and ensure they’re all equally informed. 

Despite sustainability being a hot topic in today’s world, quite a few seminars on it turn out to be boring, a repetition of what’s already been said. To make programs more interactive, consider adding milestones, rewards like trees and recognitions for those who do their bit and those who go above and beyond. Doing this on an individual basis within a team, or team-wise in a larger organisation, can make employees feel like a part of something bigger than themselves or the company– the planet!

Conclusion

Sustainable practices at the workplace needn’t be expensive, time-consuming or taking ages to implement. On a team-by-team basis, a firm can reduce its carbon footprint and significantly contribute to global sustainability goals. 

Posted on 2019-08-05

How to calculate CO2 sequestration

A key “feature” of a tree is that trees sequester carbon –  the process of removal and long-term storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) from our atmosphere.

EcoMatcher and its tree-planting partners estimate that the trees planted sequester CO2 at an average of 25 kilos per tree per year; we use an average of 250 kilos over a tree’s lifetime. Please note those are average numbers as multiple different species are being planted.

The rate of carbon sequestration depends on the growth characteristics of the tree species, the density of its wood, the location’s conditions for growth, and the plant stage of the tree.

That said, there are ways to estimate a tree’s CO2 sequestration, see below[1].

Step 1: Determine the total green weight of the tree

The green weight is the weight of the tree when it is alive. First, you have to calculate the green weight of the above-ground weight as follows:

Wabove-ground= 0.25 DH (for trees with D<11)

Wabove-ground= 0.15 DH (for trees with D>11)

Wabove-ground= Above-ground weight in pounds

D = Diameter of the trunk in inches 
H = Height of the tree in feet

The root system weight is about 20% of the above-ground weight. Therefore, to determine the total green weight of the tree, multiply the above-ground weight by 1.2:

Wtotal green weight = 1.2* Wabove-ground

Step 2: Determine the dry weight of the tree

The average tree is 72.5% dry matter and 27.5% moisture. Therefore, to determine the dry weight of the tree, multiply the total green weight of the tree by 72.5%. 

Wdry weight = 0.725 * Wtotal green weight

Step 3: Determine the weight of carbon in the tree

The average carbon content is generally 50% of the tree’s dry weight total volume. Therefore, in determining the weight of carbon in the tree, multiply the dry weight of the tree by 50%.

Wcarbon = 0.5 * Wdry weight

Step 4: Determine the weight of carbon dioxide sequestered in the tree

CO2 has one molecule of Carbon and 2 molecules of Oxygen. The atomic weight of Carbon is 12 (u) and the atomic weight of Oxygen is 16 (u). The weight of CO2 in trees is determined by the ratio of CO2 to C is 44/12 = 3.67. Therefore, to determine the weight of carbon dioxide sequestered in the tree, multiply the weight of carbon in the tree by 3.67.

Wcarbon-dioxide = 3.67 * Wcarbon

Example of CO2 calculation

Tree details:

  • 10 years old tree
  • 5 meter tall or 16.4 feet tall (“H”)
  • 25 cm trunk or 9.8 inch trunk (“D”)

Wabove-ground= 0.25 DH= 0.25(9.82)(16.4) = 394 lbs

Wtotal green weight = 1.2* Wabove-ground= 1.2 * 394 = 473 lbs

Wdry weight = 0.725 * Wtotal green weight= 0.725 * 473 = 343 lbs

Wcarbon = 0.5 * Wdry weight  = 0.5 * 343 = 171.5 lbs

Wcarbon-dioxide = 3.67 * Wcarbon  = 3.67 * 171.5 = 629 lbs CO2 sequestered in 10 years; that equals 285 kg. EcoMatcher uses an aeverage of 250 kg CO2 sequestered per tree.

Ultimately, the growth of each tree is non-linear, and the greatest sequestration stage is in the younger stages of tree growth, depending on rates and peaks of individual species, with the sequestration of CO2 per year dropping thereafter. CO2 sequestration can differ even within tree species, with multiple factors such as growth conditions also at play. But while the exact CO2 sequestration rates may require more accurate measurements to pinpoint, the impact trees can create is undeniable in our global fight against climate change, in addition to the host of localized functions it can fulfill.

[1]https://www.unm.edu/~jbrink/365/Documents/Calculating_tree_carbon.pdf (University of New Mexico).

#treeplanting #carbon #sequestration #climateaction #carbondioxide


 

Posted on 2017-06-20

Does Planting Trees Match the Requirements of Additionality or Not?

We recently receive questions about the additionality of planting trees in general and through EcoMatcher specifically. One reason for this seems to be the publication of results of a research by the European Union on the additionality of carbon offset programs. This research, concluded that 85% of projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) either fail to reduce CO2 emissions in a measurable way or they over-estimate their impact.

Additionality is a key concept in determining whether projects have an impact or not. co2offsetresearch.org describes the concept of additionality in the context of carbon reduction quite well: “Would the emissions reductions have occurred, holding all else constant, if the activity were not implemented as an offset project? Or more simply: Would the project have happened anyway? If the answer to that is yes, the project is not additional.”

The EU research shows that many projects under CDM, would have happened without “CO2 compensation” based funding, in which case they cannot claim to be additional.

An example of this is a windmill project in a village in rural India. On the outset, it appears great: by investing money in the windmill, a village gets access to carbon neutral electricity. It turns out however that these windmills could be built using funding from the local community only. External funding is not required to realize the project. On top of this, this project does not have any carbon compensation effect, because the village previously had no reliable electricity source to begin with. As a result, the windmill does not reduce any carbon emissions, because there previously were none.

Because of the results of this research, the EU is expected to change requirements for projects that are used to offset CO2 emissions after 2020.

Are trees planted through EcoMatcher additional?

When planting trees, you are actually not reducing emissions of CO2 but increasing sequestration of CO2, resulting in a similar net effect. Almost the same definition holds: Would the CO2 sequestration have occurred, holding all else constant, if the activity were not implemented as an offset project?

Simplifying it a bit, the question becomes whether the tree planting organizations would have planted trees without external funding. That question is easily answered: The tree planting organizations that EcoMatcher works with, are all dependent on external funding and without it they are not able to continue (to help) plant trees.

While by that definition trees planted through EcoMatcher could be considered additional by itself, in practice it is a bit more complicated. Especially in cases where the tree planting organization helps farmers plant the trees instead of planting them themselves, you could question whether these farmers would try to plant trees without the help of the NGO. And if they would, would they be successful and would the trees sequester the same amounts of CO2? The tree planting organizations EcoMatcher works with are rather critical about their own carbon reduction results. For example, some have strict protocols to calculate the actual average contribution of individual trees. Also, each tree needs to be newly planted in a unique location. This means trees that are planted to replace cut down trees, are not considered contributing to CO2 reduction.

Often the additionality question only includes the carbon offset element of a project. However, in practice there is much more involved than just planting trees. If you include the educational and social aspects that the NGOs address, the additionality question of their projects is definitively answered with a “Yes”.

EcoMatcher’s platform makes it easier for businesses to identify genuine and successful projects that make a difference by planting trees, by offering a selection of carefully vetted sustainable causes in which they can invest. A genuine additionality cause, I’d say.

#EcoMatcher #Sustainability #TreePlanting #SDGs