Carbon Footprint of My Company – fly less or eat veggies more?

We have been talking about reducing our carbon footprint as a company. GlobalGiving is a “small business” sized nonprofit (less than 50 employees). Still, we examined every facet of the office for places where we could achieve dramatic improvements on our carbon footprint.

Goal: catalytic improvement

What if some little thing we did went viral as an idea and many others did likewise?

Travel (40 tons of CO2e):

We work in 130 countries. We fly more than we should. That’s about 10 trips in a year. Instead of flying less, we decided to focus on including more training that would help eco-charities raise more money on GlobalGiving to plant more trees. A basic carbon calculator estimates that planting 200 trees would offset this flying.

Since we already did a “click to plant a tree” email promotion earlier this year, we planted 30,000 trees, got 30,000 new people on a green email list, and generated a carbon credit of 6,200 tons of CO2e.

Eating Meat at Work (9 tons of CO2e per year):

This came up as one of those “radical ideas” that might make a bigger difference than reducing paper use. Actually it DOES matter, but not the way you think.

Beef: 1 kilogram eaten consumes 36 kg of CO2e

Chicken: 1 kg eaten consumes 4 kg of CO2e

Based on 260 meals a year and an average of 20 daily meat eaters in our office, a 150g portion size, and the various costs of types of meat to produce, we get a baseline estimate of 9 tons CO2e for the whole office during lunch.

If people ate one more vegetarian lunch each week, we could shave 2.5 tons of CO2e off this total. That is equivalent to one aborigine, or double our current paper usage (about 1 ton of CO2e).

But if we instead cut out beef at lunch and replaced it with chicken, we shaved 5 tons of CO2e off. That’s five times the CO2e impact of all our paper usage!

5 tons of CO2e for a whole office isn’t a huge impact, but it is equivalent to planting 25 more trees (than the 30,000 we planted already), and a hell of a lot easier than cutting down our paper by 500%!

Computers and Energy (about 90 tons of CO2e):

This one was really hard to estimate, and I’m just guessing here. But I do know that we swapped out 20 of our 30 desktops for laptops. A desktop will consume 300 watts, whereas a flat screen and laptop will consume 100 watts. The savings are probably around 60 tons of CO2e per year, equivalent to 280 trees we don’t have to plant.

My message is that cutting our carbon footprint can be fun, straightforward, and free.

This is the best source for meat-related carbon calulating:

One thought on “Carbon Footprint of My Company – fly less or eat veggies more?

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