Why did we start a sustainability challenge? And why now?
You can ask why would you want this as a company, and why now? Good questions. From the mounting evidence, it is abundantly clear we have to take action to stay within our carbon budget and keep the temperature within the 1.5 degrees agreed on in the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, and to be honest, it feels like we’re a bit late to the party. But better late than never, right? Right! And now, we’d better hurry up.
There was a clear tipping point that spurred us into action. In late 2021, a court in the Netherlands ruled in a landmark case. As stated by the BBC, “The oil giant Shell must reduce its emissions. By 2030, Shell must cut its CO2 emissions by 45% compared to 2019 levels, the civil court ruled. The Shell group is responsible for its own CO2 emissions and those of its suppliers, the verdict said.”
No more finger-pointing. Every company and individual is responsible for their own CO2 emissions. That made me think, what applies to Shell, should also apply to us. At the moment, Easy LMS is in the right place to start thinking about having a bigger impact. Or, depending on how you look at it, less of an impact .
A confession to make
Before we get to the action, I have a confession to make. In my personal life, I already started reducing my footprint years ago. We started with buying green energy, reducing food waste, buying less new stuff, buying as many unpackaged groceries as possible. Then, as a family, we built a very sustainable wooden house, with a heat pump, solar panels, a lot of insulation, and triple glazing. We replaced our gas-guzzling Volvo with an electric car. We slashed our footprint to a third of the average European citizen.
For Easy LMS not so much. We didn’t know where to start, or, we were busy running the company.
We had some ambitions, but we were struggling to take steps. We have been talking about reducing our footprint for quite some years now and we got stuck somehow. Yes, we buy green energy and we buy biological food for lunch. But not much more.
It always struck me as strange. Why couldn’t I translate this sustainable living from my personal life to the company? It felt like being someone else running the company then running my personal life. Strange, right?
Eureka! My (LED)lightbulb moment
Finally, I learned how I can do this at Easy LMS. It took me a Christmas holiday and a new report that I read in which scientists fear we will reach the 1.5 degrees Celcius rise compared to pre-industrial levels within 12 years. This spurred into more action in my personal life.
I hatched a plan to calculate the remaining CO2 footprint of our household and plant trees to offset the CO2 emissions that were still left. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Taking it one step further we vowed to offset all CO2 emissions we created during our lifetimes, within 10 years. For our household that translates to planting 2,248 trees. Easy, right? After 10 years the trees will start removing more CO2 from the air than we have put there, making us CO2 negative.
Then it struck me, being carbon neutral is actually quite simple, but not easy.
Sustainability? Simple, not easy!
These are the four simple steps you have to take:
- Calculate your CO2 emissions.
- Remove the CO2 from the air by planting trees.
- Reduce the amount of CO2 you emit.
- Plant more trees to remove all your historic CO2 emissions.
Wait, but why can’t we do the same for the company? Set some goal, or challenges as we call them at Easy LMS, and start moving.
Our sustainability challenge
We have set this challenge for Easy LMS:
- By the end of 2022 Easy LMS is certified CO2 neutral. We offset the CO2 we produce with trees. And do so every year moving forward.
- By 2025 we have offset our lifelong CO2 emissions, and after 2025 we start being a CO2 negative company.
- By 2025 we have reduced our CO2 usage by 50% compared to 2021.
We think we will learn a lot during our journey to become a net-zero impact company. We will share this journey on our blog. We will share our struggles and our wins.
Why do we want to be certified?
We want to be CO2 neutral certified. Yes, we’re a bunch of Smart Owls here at Easy LMS, and we like to do things our own way. But, we don’t want to fall into the trap of greenwashing or making choices that have unintended side effects. Picking the right certificate will help us stay on course, it will help us by holding us accountable, and of course, we like the bragging rights that come with a valid certification process. We don’t know yet which certificate we choose, we will figure it out along the way and report back here.
Why more ambitious than the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement was settled in 2015. The consensus then was that we have to reduce emissions by 50% in 2030 and be net-zero in 2050 to stay within 1.5 degrees temperature rise. Since then the world has changed a lot. We have to be more ambitious.
At Easy LMS, we believe that we have to take responsibility and leave the world in a better place than we inherited it from our parents. I feel that stating things so far in the future is free. That doesn’t really set us up for action. We’re doing it in borrowed time from our children. We have to think big and act small. We can do a small act today, not in 10 years. And, as my grandma would say, “If you hurry when you have time, you have time when you’re in a hurry.” And we have to hurry, we’ve almost ran out of time.
Think big and act small
A lot of small actions will lead to big changes, that’s what we firmly believe in. Without any big challenges, actions will feel random and they won’t move us forward. That’s why we like to set ourselves big challenges and start taking small and daily actions towards those big challenges. We don't have to know how to get there, as long as we start moving.
Think big, act small
Although we haven’t made any decisions about which certification program we will use yet, and we haven’t calculated our current CO2 emissions, we have already started taking action, which we will talk about in a different blog.
More action: plant trees
Planting trees is a known solution to get CO2 out of the air and into the ground and stems of trees to store CO2 for long periods of time. Next to reducing CO2 emissions, tree planting done well can improve the livelihoods of local people, and increase biodiversity among other things. That’s why we celebrate reaching a target condition by planting a tree.
A tree for every subscription
To go bigger on planting trees, we decided that from this month on we will plant a tree for each new subscription that we sell. We sell around 100 new subscriptions a month. That translates into 100 new trees, each month. Each tree reduces CO2 levels by 25kg a year on average. After the first year our forest will capture around 30,000 kg/CO2 a year. Pretty owlsome!