What Does It Mean to Be a Carbon Neutral Brand?
Carbon neutrality is a term used to describe an organization’s goal to offset the carbon dioxide emissions their business emits into the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the most dangerous and prevalent greenhouse gas. C02 emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and greatly contribute to global warming. For these reasons, it’s extremely important for mankind to reduce their carbon footprint and the corporate sector plays a huge role.
What Does it Mean to be Carbon Neutral?
Essentially, a carbon neutral business is a business that offsets the carbon dioxide emitted by their business operations through carbon offsetting mechanisms. Companies usually accomplish this by purchasing carbon offset credits. Carbon offset credits are purchasable units that fund carbon reducing initiatives.
Businesses don’t need to stop at carbon neutrality though. You can take it a step further and pursue become a carbon negative, also known as climate positive, organization. As the name suggests, carbon negative means that you’re offsetting more carbon than is you’re emitting through your business processes.
How to Become a Certified Carbon Neutral Brand
As we previously defined, to become carbon neutral a business must offset more CO2 than it emits. This is usually done through purchasing carbon offset credits. Ultimately, the goal is to actively reduce a company’s carbon footprint in a measurable and effective manner. To accomplish goal, organizations can take these five steps.
Measure Your Carbon Output
The most important step in the process of becoming a carbon neutral or carbon negative company is the measurement step. There’s a lot more that goes into measuring your company’s CO2 output than you might think. Scientists have classified carbon emissions into three categories, or “scopes”, to help organizations calculate their output.
Scope 1: Direct Emissions
These are the most obvious forms of carbon emissions, direct C02 emissions created by your business operations. This could include CO2 emitted by your delivery vehicles, shipping process, and any direct emission from your products or services.
Scope 2: Indirect Emissions
This scope deals with the indirect emissions associated with the production of electricity or heat that your business uses. This includes all electricity, heating, and cooling used at your office and in every building owned by your business.
Scope 3: Indirect Value-Chain Emissions
Scope 3 accounts for the most emissions by a wide margin. This category includes all indirect emissions that come from all the other activities that your business is engaged in. This scope is also the most difficult to calculate because it must be accounted for across your entire supply chain. This includes the materials of a company’s buildings, business travel of all employees, and the full life cycle of all products including the electricity consumed when using a product.
Reduce Your Carbon Emissions
Making efforts to reduce the carbon emissions generated by your business is key because eliminating emissions is much more ideal than offsetting them. Additionally, by reducing your CO2 emissions your company won’t be required to purchase as many carbon offset credits to become carbon neutral or carbon negative.
Reducing your emissions becomes much easier after you’ve identified what parts of your business contribute to your carbon footprint the most during the measurement stage. Carbon reduction strategies for businesses include implementing more energy efficient processes, re-thinking business travel, and redesigning products to be carbon neutral or more efficient.
How Employees Can Reduce Their Individual Carbon Footprint
- Use less electricity and energy at home and at work.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains. Eat less meat and dairy.
- Shop local whenever possible.
- Buy recycled and recyclable products.
- Drive less and take public transportation when possible.
Offset Carbon Emissions
It’s nearly impossible to run a business that has zero scope one, two, or three emissions, so to reach carbon neutrality your business will also have to include carbon offsetting strategies. The easiest way to do this is by purchasing carbon offset credits.
Carbon offset credits were introduced as a way for buyers to demonstrate carbon offsetting in a measurable and verified way. Money generated from carbon offset credits are used to fund verified initiatives that are proven to reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere. Some examples of carbon offsetting initiatives include renewable energy projects, forest management, recycling, and carbon removal technology like Direct Air Capture.
Select a Carbon Certification Program
It’s vital to pick a trustworthy carbon certification program that doesn’t allow greenwashing, which occurs when organizations make empty sustainability pledges without actually reducing or offsetting their carbon emissions. The best carbon certification programs disavow greenwashing tactics and verify that an organization’s sustainability plan is actually benefitting the environment. Here are some of the best and most trustworthy carbon certification programs.
- The Gold Standard
- Climate Impact Partners
- Cool Effect
- Plan Vivo
- Verus Carbon Neutral
- International Living Future Institute
Sharing your efforts to become carbon neutral with your stakeholders and the general public is important for a few reasons. Of course, telling the story of your climate action and your organization’s journey to become carbon neutral is a great way to elevate your company’s image, but it’s more than that. Sharing your story will also increase awareness of why becoming carbon neutral is so important for companies and expose business owners to verified and effective carbon offsetting programs.
Learn More About Zusa: A Carbon-Neutral Brand
Merchology's own brand, Zusa, is incredibly proud to announce that it is officially a certified carbon-neutral company! Beginning as a way to create custom corporate apparel sustainably, Zusa has expanded in its environmental practices to completely offset its carbon emissions. Learn more in our certified Climate Neutral business profile.
Why Should My Company Become Carbon-Neutral?
Aside from the fact that the future of humanity on our planet depends on being carbon neutral by 2050, there are many reasons why your business should push to become carbon neutral as soon as possible. Businesses and products marketed as sustainable are proven to be more desirable to consumers. Plus, environmentally conscious companies have a better public image, making the business more attractive to investors, customers, and potential employees. Your business will likely avoid future tax hikes on carbon consumption by going carbon neutral too! If it sounds like going carbon neutral is an easy choice, that’s because it should be. Climate change is real, and companies must do their part if we want to reverse the damage we’ve done to our planet.