You’re reading this because you care. Because you want to make a difference, but the harsh reality is that you care more about your day job, the bottom-line, fund-raise, your next hire. Because that pays the bills and keeps the roof over everyone’s head. Once that’s all done, then you can worry about being sustainable.
Therein lies the conundrum. You’re not playing the fiddle whilst the Earth burns, you’re trying to survive, today.
Plus hearing all the devastating facts around climate change, like one million species will become extinct (500 disappeared in the last 100 years alone) if the temperature increases by 1.5°C, or that 7 billion trees are cut-down every year. Hearing things like 40% of the world’s population are “highly vulnerable”, all feels too doom and gloom when you’re a start-up, when it’s exciting, fresh, and new.
You’ll get to saving the planet when you’re as rich as Elon Musk and have more time, because what’s the incentive, where’s the tax break to invest in being sustainable?
Whereas the opposite is in fact true.
“Focussing on the triple bottom line (profit, people, planet) is proven in more and more studies to deliver higher EBIT, better staff attraction and retention, lower cost of capital and exponential growth”
We need to find ways to integrate being sustainable into business.
To make it part of a company culture and DNA. Not a purpose driven marketing campaign, but a purpose driven business. The carbon tax is coming. It already exists in 54 countries and in Germany businesses are taxed 25€ per tonne (before you’ve even thought about carbon removal), and the SEC have just made Scope 3 emission reporting compulsory.
You therefore need to care (even if you don’t) because the free market is no longer free. Intervention is happening as we can’t be trusted, the same way the food, confectionary, cigarette, gambling industries needed intervention.
The cost of sustainable capital is being made cheaper, No 11 has seen to that and VC’s, Sovereign Wealth Funds, HNI are investing billions in ESG industries, and net zero businesses. If you’re not one, then you’re not as attractive as your competitor who is.
You're still not convinced?
How about if you could just do something small every day that made the difference. Remember the grain of rice fable or the £1m now or 10p every day for the next 30 days?
The secret sauce is compound interest, making the 10p worth £5.4m. By starting small, and galvanizing the whole business to help you double your impact every day, everyone getting behind doing simple things, like turning off a tap or recycling.
That’s the approach we need for carbon emissions, carbon reduction and carbon removal. Carbon offsetting isn’t a swear word, it's a fact of life and it isn’t greenwashing (which is defined by Greenpeace as “investing more in marketing and PR, than in your sustainability goals”). Today, virtually every business needs to remove its carbon footprint by offsetting some of its carbon, so lean-in.
This isn’t rocket science (even if you’re still waiting to be Elon)
1. Calculate your carbon footprint (there’s no excuse most businesses don’t need a consultant)
2. Look at simple ways to reduce your footprint, such as:
a. Switch to renewable
b. Switch to EVs
c. Fly less
d. Insist on vegetarian events/company events
3. Remove the balance via offsetting with trusted partners:
a. Plant trees
b. Buy verified carbon credits
At SKOOT we’re a climate platform focussed on helping SMEs, hospitality, and e-commerce with tech solutions such as green service charge to offset food miles and delivery, automatic tree planting and reduction for all staff, event offset planning and carbon calculators. The problem is complex, the solutions don’t need to be, everyday just needs to be Earth Day.
This article was originally written and posted on StartUps Magazine by our Co-founder Mark Stringer.