There are a lot of companies out there promising to help you achieve your sustainability goals. So, how do you make sure your approach is actually going to benefit the planet and not end up being hung out to dry with the rest of the greenwashing?
You’re not expected to create a regenerative strategy all by yourself, but sometimes the promises from providers seem too good to be true. From ‘huge environmental impacts’ created through tiny donations to the ‘eco friendly technology’ that will apparently flip your carbon emissions on their head, should you believe everything you’re being sold? And even if you believe the hype, will your critical customers?
But that’s no reason to back off doing your bit to save the planet. There are hundreds of ways that you can integrate a regenerative approach into your business operations.
So how do you do regeneration the right way?
It’s not just about nature
We often think of regeneration as something we do to ecosystems – protecting plants, animals and landscapes – however its impact goes so much further. Ask about the social impact of the projects you are looking to fund and don’t be convinced by fancy certificates alone. You have enormous power to create change, so be intelligent about where you choose to put your investment. Regenerating ecosystems where local communities can benefit most will have a double-whammy effect on your handprint. It’s also a great way to help connect your employees and customers with the people on the ground whose lives you are improving. Creating that emotional connection will help maintain engagement with the projects as your involvement develops.
Run from those who promise carbon neutrality
Sure, your company can be a contributor towards a global 1.5 degrees future, but framing it as ‘carbon neutrality’ in the context of a corporate contribution is scientifically erroneous. Why? Because carbon offsetting and CO2 compensation schemes don’t work like that. Yes, it’s possible to ‘cancel out’ out the carbon that you emit by buying credits but that’s normally only shifting the problem elsewhere. But unless you are neutralising the emissions of every single piece of equipment used for your work (including your car, laptop, food…) can you really negate your impact? The ambition of individual corporate carbon neutrality doesn’t focus on the big picture. A holistic approach is one that appreciates that in an interconnected world, everyone needs to contribute to a global carbon neutral target.
Check that your buck actually bucks the trend
Some platforms will sell you agroforestry – for example some fruit trees – as a solution to climate change, but look closely and you will discover that these trees have been planted without your specific contribution. What you are actually buying is a pretty photo of a tree and a pin on Google Maps. Focus on additionality – how is your dollar going to provide carbon sequestration beyond that which would have arisen anyway? Comparing your intervention to a baseline is a good way of ensuring you are having an impact. Thanks to new technology, we can now receive granular information about how money is spent – from the tree you’ve planted to the plastic you’ve pulled from the ocean. Your impact service provider should be able to give you this detail as part of the package so that you can keep your customers and employees updated in real-time.
Think global, act global
The old way of doing things was to ‘think global’ (i.e. address climate change) and ‘act local’ (do something that has an impact in your local community). However, given the urgency of the current climate situation, this perspective is somewhat outdated g. We need to act where action is most effective. Planting a tree in Singapore may cost you $200, whereas a mangrove in Indonesia will set you back $1.15. That mangrove will absorb up to 10 times more CO2 than the tree in Singapore and as an added bonus, will help provide biodiversity and additional social benefits. Which do you choose?
Simple right? Finding a way for your business to help save the planet isn’t difficult. You just need a realistic outlook, a healthy dose of scepticism, and a keen focus on what you want your handprint to look like. So where can you have the biggest and most effective impact?
To find out more about how Handprint is helping small and medium enterprises incorporate regenerative programmes, visit https://handprint.tech/custom-integration