Recently at the Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber Conference I was listening to Nick Temple from The Social Investment Group, who said something that has haunted me, until this week. He said: “For all social business the environment must be your social focus too”
Now, at the time, as a new start-up social enterprise I was a little bit frustrated by this. I want our company to make a real difference in this world, as did every great business in that room. It seemed almost unfair, unreasonable even, that this already great room of inspiring individuals, were being asked to do more.
But the more time went on, the more I realised he was right. The social enterprise sector is one I want to see leading the way on a whole raft of social issues. Climate change and the impact that it can have, is potentially our biggest and our most pressing social issue. I made a decision and wrote “How can we become carbon neutral?” at the very top of our whiteboard, and so our journey began.
I started doing research to investigate ways we could become carbon neutral. The main issue I found is that most carbon schemes, rely on a lot of data being calculated in order to work out how much to offset. This is incredibly time-consuming and, with the rate our company is growing and evolving, anything we calculate today will likely change over a three-month period.
Then my father-in-law emailed me, out of the blue one day, about Oblong Trees. Their business model and vision is a simple one. They have calculated the number of trees that need to be planted to make the UK carbon positive (3 billion). They then divided this amount among every working person in the UK to create a simple cost per employee of £1.50 a month. With this money, they will plant 120 trees per employee over a 10 year period. As you can see it’s a very elegant solution to a very complex problem.
Here is what Oblong Trees say about it’s product:
“Very few businesses are trying to offset their CO2 production, many businesses aren’t aware of the scale of impact their company has on the environment. In our own experience we found it difficult to reliably gauge our carbon footprint and then find a trusted supplier to offset it, this led to us stalling for over 6 months whilst we decided what to do.
We spun the problem on its head and looked at the total amount of CO2 produced by the UK and created a plan to offset each company’s share, based on its size. This allows companies to skip trying to estimate their carbon footprint and instantly start making a difference.”
Is this the perfect solution? No, and nor would Oblong claim it to be, but it’s a great step in the right direction and offers a crucial service to the world, at an incredibly cost-effective price. Ground Up Digital can now wear our ’10 Year Plan’ badge on the front of our website, with pride.