What we’re doing to reduce and offset our carbon footprint
We can’t start to offset or neutralise our carbon if we don’t know how much we currently use
Last year, we wrote about our plans to become a carbon neutral organisation. The dxw Earth group, which meets regularly to talk about our work and its effects on the planet, has been looking at how to achieve this.
So what is our carbon footprint?
One of the first steps in this process was to work out our carbon footprint. We can’t start to offset or neutralise our carbon if we don’t know how much we currently use. So a small group of dxw people did a 3 day sprint with some help from C Free to measure how much carbon we produce as a company.
We started by looking at the period from September 2019 to August 2020. This meant that the calculations would include data from before the pandemic and from after our move to fully remote working.
How we measured our carbon output
As a digital agency, we use a lot of tools and services when we’re building and maintaining services and websites. This meant we had to work out the carbon used by all of these different tools, then add the figures together. We looked at the carbon used by servers, databases, and all the other things we use day-to-day.
As we use several different companies, there wasn’t one tool that could help us calculate the total amount. So this had to be done manually.
We estimated that our total carbon footprint was 131 tonnes between September 2019 and August 2020. That’s the equivalent of 14,628 gallons (or 66,500 litres) of petrol and a car driving 322,581 miles. This sounds high, but according to C Free it’s the average amount of output for an organisation of our size providing the type of services we offer.
Limitations in our calculations
Calculating the figures accurately is a challenge. We had to rely on others to provide us with much of the data, and there are different ways to look at measuring carbon, which means accuracy isn’t something we have much control over. There are also some aspects of carbon usage that are really difficult to calculate, so we had to rely on estimates for certain things.
Our first step is to offset
We’ve agreed to offset 150% of our estimated carbon footprint, with the extra 50% to cover the uncertainty in our calculations. C Free have talked us through the various Gold Standard offsetting schemes they offer. This will officially make us a carbon neutral company for the period from September 2019 – August 2020.
The next step is to reduce
Some of the methods of reduction will be simple things like looking for local and sustainable alternatives to Amazon hosting whenever we can.
Interestingly, when we moved to working from home, dxw’s carbon footprint halved. But there’s still more we can all do as individuals to help the planet. Here’s some easy to follow tips on reducing your carbon while working remotely:
- switching your video off during meetings can cut the carbon emission of a call by up to 96% (we know this isn’t always possible and it’s good for us to see each other sometimes)
- delete old emails as they produce carbon emissions
- switch your home energy provider to a green one
- turn lights and appliances off at the mains when they’re not in use
We want to start advocating for greener working practices
- engaging with government clients to encourage them to put pressure on the big tech companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and others
- encouraging other companies to be more open about carbon production
- promoting low tech, carbon reduction strategies, and offsetting where possible to our clients
We’ll continue to blog about our work and what we’re doing to help make dxw the greenest it can be.