Five years ago, the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists approached the Carbonfund.org Foundation to create a unique program to neutralize the emissions from the wedding gown cleaning and preservation services offered by its members. ZeroCarbon™ gown preservations became the first carbon-neutral wedding gown cleaning and preservation program in the wedding services industry, and it ensures that the beauty of each wedding gown is preserved while safeguarding the environment. ZeroCarbon™ wedding gown preservations are endorsed by the Association of Bridal Consultants and Green Bride Guide.
Carbonfund.org helped to calculate the carbon footprint of the gown cleaning and preservation process and created a per-gown treatment emissions level to be neutralized. Each Certified Wedding Gown Specialist™ makes a separate per-gown preservation donation to Carbonfund.org, which helps to support reforestation projects that reduce carbon emissions worldwide. To date, the ZeroCarbon™ wedding gown preservation program has mitigated over one million pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent of the total emissions absorbed by 11,000 tree seedlings grown for ten years.
The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists created a flyer about the ZeroCarbon™ preservation program printed on recycled paper in soy ink for their members to use, and they’ve added the ZeroCarbon™ text to the complimentary care labels supplied to wedding gown designers.
“My own experience with the ZeroCarbon™ labels has been very positive,” explains Sally Conant, Executive Director. “At my personal company, which is also a member of the Association, brides inspect their gowns before they are packed in acid-free wedding chests. When the gown is packed I explain that the ZeroCarbon™ label means we have offset all of the carbon emissions with a donation to Carbonfund.org to support reforestation projects."
"About a quarter of the brides say they chose my company because we do green gown preservations, and the rest are pleasantly surprised to hear about the program when they come for the gown. One bride recently told me it was very reassuring to know that she could care for her gown without damaging the environment. If it is a relative of the bride who comes to collect the gown, about a third of them say something such as ‘She will be so pleased. She cares about our environment.’"
In a telling and ironic move, coal industry giant BHP-Billiton, is replacing one of its coal export facilities in Queensland, Australia because of its vulnerability to increasingly frequent hurricanes from global warming. BHP-Billiton is an Australian coal company that produces one-fifth of globally traded coal for steel making and is the largest mining company on Earth. The upgrade represents a major investment in planning for climate change. In fact, the company’s coal operations are led by Marcus Randolph, who confirmed they are planning, “to rebuild the facility to be more durable to climate change.”
Readers of this blog already know that increasingly extreme weather events are the result of climate change in addition to the fact that many businesses are planning now for climate change’s effects. Why not a coal company too? The announcement makes it obvious that BHP-Billiton understands that climate change is real and the time is now to begin making changes even if the manufacture of their product contributes to the issue.
Randolph has even warned investors about the implications of remaining dependent on the non-renewable resources of fossil fuels by saying, “In a carbon constrained world where energy coal is the biggest contributor to a carbon problem, how do you think this is going to evolve over a 30- to 40-year time horizon? You'd have to look at that and say on balance, I suspect, the usage of thermal coal is going to decline. And frankly it should.”
When a company that mines and exports coal starts planning for climate change it means the writing is on the wall. Businesses and individuals alike should all be working to decrease carbon footprints and offset the remaining carbon emissions. Let’s give the planet a holiday present and start doing all we can this season to embrace a cleaner energy future.
Environmental conservation is a broad, global goal that will only be achieved by the aggregate of actions taken by small businesses and individuals in communities around the world. Carbonfund.org is engaged in large-scale initiatives, such as the development of our forestry projects in Brazil, but we continue to offer simple and affordable ways for any person, family or start-up business to make a difference in the fight against the negative impact of climate change.
Our personal emissions offsetting programs and CarbonFree® Business Partnerships help everyone to be part of the solution to climate change. New CarbonFree® Partner Citizen Yogurt is a great example of a local business putting its community and environmental mission into action. Citizen Yogurt in Raleigh, North Carolina is a 100% locally owned and operated family business, offering self-serve frozen yogurt with bold and unusual flavors and toppings, and a commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
Citizen Yogurt’s community involvement includes sponsoring local swim teams, sports clubs and organizations in their neighborhood. They sponsor charitable donation nights where at least 10% of the night’s revenue will go to community organizations. The yogurt shop features sustainable bamboo hardwood floors and their yogurt comes from rBST-free cows.
“Citizen Yogurt has chosen to take a different path to success. We have committed to running our business in the best way possible – including the impact on the environment and community. Carbonfund.org’s transparency, not-for-profit status and strong partner list help make that goal easier to achieve,” states Charles Park, Owner and President of Citizen Yogurt.
Citizen Yogurt joined the CarbonFree® Business Partnership program this year, neutralizing their annual operational emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere through reforestation efforts, energy efficiency innovation and renewable energy technology development. Their CarbonFree® Business Partnership program underscores their commitment to sustainable operations and helps to create awareness in their local area about mitigating carbon emissions and encouraging customers to think about environmental commitments in their own lives.
We believe that Citizen Yogurt is leading by example as a great model for environmental commitment while serving up tasty froyo treats to the Raleigh community.
Carbonfund.org Foundation Welcomes Macmillan Publishing to the Large Business Partnership Program.
Macmillan is a group of publishing companies in the United States held by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany. American publishers include Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Henry Holt & Company, W.H. Freeman and Worth Publishers, Palgrave Macmillan, Bedford/St. Martin’s, Picador, Roaring Brook Press, St. Martin’s Press, Tor Books, and Macmillan Higher Education.
As a key component of its sustainability initiative, Macmillan has set a goal to reduce the CO2 emissions generated by its annual business activities by 65% (over a 2009 baseline) by the year 2020. This includes the carbon emissions mitigation through Carbonfund.org including supporting renewable energy, forestry and biodiversity preservation.
Macmillan is well on track toward realizing this ambitious goal through the programs and actions undertaken to date. Some examples are:
- Rationalizing sourcing of paper based on the CO2 profile of the various mills that manufacturer the specific grades that Macmillan uses in printing its books.
- By mid-2013, completing the 3-year transition of their car fleet to 90%+ hybrid vehicles which will result in a reduction of over 800 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year from associated fuel savings.
- Significant investment in lighting retrofits at distribution/returns facilities that are 45-50% more energy efficient than the replaced configurations.
“Sustainability is part of the very mission of our company. Not just as a press release, not just around the edges, but in the very fabric of the place. It is as important as growth, as important as profitability. It may even be more important."
“While we’ve made great headway in reducing emissions in those areas under our immediate control, we know it will take a longer horizon to gain the required savings in areas where we wield influence, but cannot drive change just by force of will. That’s why we have pursued a partnership with Carbonfund.org to mitigate our total annual emissions by offsetting approximately 25% of that total through our sponsorship and support of several of the creative, verified, and geographically diverse programs that they administer,” says John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan.
Macmillan sets an important example for the publishing industry in both internal and external carbon reduction initiatives.
About Macmillan (http://us.macmillan.com)
The proliferation of killer whales bred in captivity, on display in aquariums and public performances, and in Hollywood movies over the past thirty years has spurred the interest in killer whale watching in the wild. Yet the worldwide population of Orcas has been difficult for researchers to assess, and the species is threatened by depletion of the global fish population, oceanic pollution, large-scale oil spills, and habitat disturbance caused by noise and conflicts with boats, including whale watching tour operators.
Organizations such as the Pacific Whale Watch Association has helped by establishing strong memberships and specific guidelines for whale watching tours that help to protect both the whales and the tour groups seeking the memorable experience of watching Orcas in the wild.
In a stronger step towards developing environmentally-responsible tour operations, Carbonfund.org is pleased to announce a new partnership that brings carbon neutral whale watching to the Vancouver Island area. Carbonfund.org has recently partnered with Eagle Wing Tours, a locally owned and family operated marine adventure eco-tourism company based on Vancouver Island, to create Canada’s first carbon neutral whale watching experience. Eagle Wing Tours assessed the full estimated annual carbon emissions from its whale watching tour operations and established a carbon mitigation program through Carbonfund.org by supporting our carbon reduction and clean energy technology projects. This carbon neutral program is the final step in Eagle Wing Tours’ Go Green Whale Watching Program.
“We are trying to redefine what a wildlife tour company is. Spotting that whale is the cherry on top of an all ready very comprehensive marine experience,” explains Brett Soberg, Co-Owner and Captain at Eagle Wing Tours. “What we can do to protect these species by supporting education, conservation and responsible business is where we really count. We selected to support Carbonfund.org due their non-profit designation which supports our 1% For the Planet membership.”
Carbonfund.org encourages eco-tourism companies to carefully monitor their environmental impact and to mitigate harmful emissions by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy innovation, and supporting forestry and habitat preservation. We are pleased to welcome Eagle Wing Tours to join our eco-tourism partners in these efforts.
The desire for renewable energy world-wide is on the rise according to a pair of recently released studies commissioned by wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas. Eighty-five percent of global respondents want more renewable energy in the market, says the Global Consumer Wind Energy Study. And 49% of those surveyed would be willing to pay more for renewable energy. The survey also illuminated that 45% believe climate change is one of the big three challenges facing the globe.
The survey polled 24,000 respondents in 20 countries and also found that 62% would buy products from companies who use wind energy. Almost three quarters of consumers indicated they would feel more positive if companies used wind as its primary source of energy.
The second study examines what companies do voluntarily for renewable energy production. Bloomberg New Energy Finance writes the Corporate Renewable Energy Index, which found that global investments in renewable energy capacity are overtaking those of fossil fuels; $237 billion compared to $223 billion. Furthermore, companies are increasingly committing to renewable energy. They purchased 40% of renewable energy last year.
The trend of businesses planning for climate change is not news to readers of our blog. However, it is encouraging to see companies actually making investments in renewable energy. It only makes sense as it lowers their risk. So these studies point to both consumers and corporations demanding more renewable energy. Isn’t it time governments join the trend too? The scale goes from smaller to larger effects when consumers, businesses, and governments work together to lower global carbon emissions. We are looking forward to a clean energy future powered by renewable energy sources.
A survey released this week showed increasing oversight by top executives in their climate change strategies. Ninety-two percent of respondents indicated their company's board or high-level executive had oversight over climate strategies, which is an increase of six percentage points from the 2011 survey.
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) received responses from 338 of the S&P 500 firms indicating progress in carbon emissions reduction goals as well as disclosing these results. CDP offers a system for cities and companies to measure and share their environmental action.
Companies such as Microsoft Corp, United Parcel Service, Hess Corp, Pepco Holdings, and Sempra Energy Utilities are not waiting to address the risks from climate change to their overall business goals. Man-made or not, these companies won’t wait around to figure out who caused climate change. They’re taking steps now to lessen their financial risk.
Eighty-one percent of survey respondents identified physical risk from climate change, with 37 percent considering the risks "a real and present danger" – an increase of 10 percent from two years ago. Eighty-three percent of companies reported that climate change had been factored into corporate risk management strategies, which was only at 75 percent in 2011.
These results directly contrast with a distinct hesitation in the regulation of greenhouse gases by U.S. lawmakers. Congress’ opinions on climate change run the gamut from ambivalence to skepticism to even outright disbelief. Fortunately businesses that are beholden to their shareholders see the value in planning for climate change since it will certainly impact their bottom lines.
We’ve already examined and defined a carbon footprint, but have you ever heard of an ecological footprint? An ecological footprint compares human demands on nature with the Earth's ability to regenerate resources and provide services.
Ecological footprints are ever changing because of advances in technology and a three-year lag for the UN to collect and publish statistics. However, it is a standardized measure that begins by assessing the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population uses. This is then contrasted with the planet’s ability to absorb associated waste and ecological capacity to regenerate. Think of it like how much of the Earth (or how many planet Earths) it would take to support humanity given an average lifestyle. In 2007, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.5 planet Earths. This means humans are currently using ecological services 1.5 times quicker than Earth can renew them.
William Rees was the first academic to publish about an ecological footprint in 1992. He supervised the PhD dissertation of Mathis Wackernagel who outlined the concept and offered a calculation method. Rees penned the term ecological footprint in a more accessible manner than the original name of “appropriated carrying capacity” after a computer technician described Rees’ new computer as having a small footprint on the desk. Wackernagel and Rees published the book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth in early 1996.
The implications are dire according to Rees who wrote in 2010, “…the average world citizen has an eco-footprint of about 2.7 global average hectares while there are only 2.1 global hectare of bioproductive land and water per capita on earth. This means that humanity has already overshot global biocapacity by 30% and now lives unsustainabily by depleting stocks of ‘natural capital’.”
We’re definitely overspending the planet’s resources. Just take a look at man-made global warming and climate change. We need to continue on the path to seeking a sustainable lifestyle, and do it on a global scale. All of us working together can reduce the amount of the earth’s resources that we consume. Start with yourself and get creative with how many ways you can save energy and recycle. What’s great about beginning with energy efficiency is that it can save you money too. Then there are cost effective ways to offset the rest such as by contributing to Carbonfund.org’s development of renewable energy technologies and carbon emissions reduction projects. The important thing is to get started right away.
It seems only fitting that a business that depends entirely on organic and natural herbs, flowers, and medicinal plants would maintain a strong commitment to environmentally responsible business practices. Carbonfree® Business Partner Mountain Rose Herbs sets a high standard in this regard and has made significant steps in following Carbonfund.org’s motto of “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t™” by lessening its energy consumption prior to neutralizing their remaining annual operational emissions with Carbonfund.org.
Mountain Rose Herbs’ primary facility was constructed with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and relies heavily on natural lighting. Energy demand was further reduced by making a complete lighting upgrade to energy-efficient bulbs in their principal facilities and installing Energy-Star rated heating and cooling systems. In addition, Mountain Rose Herbs upgraded all their computers to those with Gold Star ratings for energy conservation, minimal shipment packaging and elimination of environmentally-harmful materials as well as more energy-efficient flat screen monitors. Mountain Rose Herbs converted all electrical usage to their local Greenpower program to ensure that a significant portion of their electricity comes from wind and solar sources.
Despite all of these energy-saving measures and efficiency enhancements, Mountain Rose Herbs still generates a measurable annual carbon emissions footprint from its business operations. In order to neutralize these annual operational emissions, Mountain Rose Herbs has partnered with Carbonfund.org for the past four years to measure and offset these unavoidable emissions by supporting Carbonfund.org’s clean energy and carbon reduction projects.
"If we are to move past coal and look forward to a greener future that is full of alternative energy, then we must support the endeavors of Carbonfund.org, who are creating the infrastructure necessary to make it happen," states Shawn Donnille, Vice President of Mountain Rose Herbs.
We applaud Carbonfree® Partner Mountain Rose Herbs for pursuing a meaningful commitment to environmentally-conscious business operations, measuring and neutralizing their annual carbon emissions, and supporting our clean air technology projects.
As part of Carbonfund.org’s mission toward a ZeroCarbonTM world, our programs make it easy and affordable for any individual, business or organization to reduce and offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a clean energy future. This focus on simplicity and affordability made it a natural to expand our partnership with CarbonFree® Business Partner Propel Fuels to create an at-the-gas-pump CarbonOffset program supporting clean air technology.
Last May, Carbonfund.org partnered with Propel Fuels, a retailer of renewable fuels that began offering consumers the ability to offset their driving emissions at the Clean Mobility Center in Fullerton, California any time they fill their gas tank. Customers may select the CarbonOffset option at the pump, and the funds will go towards Carbonfund.org’s clean air projects that spur technology developments to reduce carbon emissions.
Since CarbonOffset was launched in May, customers have chosen to contribute $1.00 per fill to fully offset the emissions from their fuel purchase more than 1,000 times. The two-month pilot has offset more than 160,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions at this single station, which is equivalent to taking 84 cars off the road in the same two-month time period. CarbonOffset contributions from the program’s first year of operation will help support Carbonfund.org’s Truck Stop Electrification project, which improves air quality around truck stops and surrounding communities and offers drivers, employees and residents a cleaner and quieter environment with fewer harmful air pollutants.
"The early success of Propel's CarbonOffset program is strong evidence that consumers are ready and willing to support clean energy, especially if the cost and benefits are clear," said Eric Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. "Thanks to Propel, thousands of drivers can vote with their dollars to support clean energy and domestic, renewable fuels."
If the CarbonOffset program continues at its current rate of participation, the program has the potential to offset more than 5 million pounds of carbon emissions over the next five years at this station alone, making a measurable contribution to emission reductions and a cleaner environment. Carbonfund.org is proud to partner in this ground-breaking program and to facilitate a simple and cost-effective method for vehicle emissions offsetting through supporting clean air technology.