Words by Josephine Mosely, Marketing Executive
As nations, companies, and individuals, we produce more CO2 emissions than our due share. It’s a reality that is thankfully galvanising decisive action as we find ourselves in a critical era for combatting the climate crisis. In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – a threshold the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) suggests is safe and that major emitting countries committed to work towards at the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015 – we need to be achieving carbon neutrality by the mid-21st century or ideally much sooner. The decade we find ourselves in will no doubt prove to be decisive in collective efforts; we need to drastically reduce our total carbon footprint through a combination of better efficiency measures where applicable and counterbalancing past and continued emissions.
At Garçon Wines, enabling a reduction in total carbon footprint is at the heart of what we do. The wine packaging space presents a unique opportunity for us to facilitate advancement through innovation whilst not compromising on much-loved and well-respected industry tradition. A key part of my role in the Garçon marketing team is engagement with and monitoring of publications or organisations who generously communicate our mission with their audiences. One such instance I took inspiration from recently followed the launch of our packaging format in the Nordics. Swedish press platform, PackNet, very kindly reported on the rollout of our flat wine bottles in the country’s alcohol retailing monopoly, Systembolaget. Something in particular caught my eye on their page, a logo indicating their website was entirely carbon neutral.
Why make a website carbon neutral?
It’s very easy to forget that for a website to run, a server somewhere needs a fair bit of power. I myself am guilty of turning a blind eye to the fact that the digital space, being less tangible and visible than our more acknowledged material emissions, in fact has a lot to answer for. If the internet were a country, it would be the seventh worst polluter in the world. In total, the global internet consumes more electricity than the entirety of the United Kingdom (416.2 terawatt hours of electricity per year to be precise). By estimates of the Website Carbon Calculator, our Garçon Wines website alone could be producing roughly 1000kg of CO2 equivalent per year. That’s as much CO2 as boiling water for 153,560 cups of coffee (our team like their coffee but not quite that many cups!) Worryingly, it would take approximately 50 trees to absorb this amount of carbon over the course of a year. Learning about such figures is what has encouraged our team to pursue measures to prevent this kind of negative impact on our planet. It’s certainly something to think about over the coffees our team do brew.
What is a carbon neutral website?
Rendering a website carbon neutral is essentially an investment to offset the CO2 emissions produced from running said website. It’s important to preface that we take the view that offsetting is not a definitive answer, and from the outset we’ve considered this not simply a payment but implementation of core company values and goals. For us, it was highly important that any such project would have integrity, longevity and accountability.
The initiative in question is called CO2 Neutral Website, a membership-based tool to compensate the total CO2 emissions caused by the operation of your website. A simple calculation is made based on easily accessible server, page visitor and general website traffic data, with a buffer added too. CO2 Neutral Website invests in counteracting the carbon emissions produced by a website through funding sustainable, Gold Standard projects with high levels of carbon reduction results. Namely, it funds projects building renewable energy sources to reduce the needs for coal plants, building energy efficient insulated stoves to limit wood consumption and last but by no means least, conservation of rainforests and threatened habitats. Recently, they have newly pursued water projects in Africa and wind projects in Turkey. A feature of this initiative that was particularly crucial for us was their focus on social responsibility, with an aim to improve the lives of those in the projects’ immediate communities through their work.
Not a solution but a step
In a possible, better world, everyone would emit less and importantly businesses would lead the way in doing so. We believe that the broader picture should very much be working to reduce absolute carbon footprint instead of offsetting, which essentially shifts responsibility. This small step in terms of our website is a means to act responsibly and positively where we can, and alert others to equivalent, simple steps as we proudly display the CO2 Neutral Website logo in our website footer. For a young company, a website is a must-have and when working to find everyday solutions that ensure low environmental impact, it offers a great place to start.
Our company strives for triple bottom line sustainability - that’s sustainability for planet, profit and people - and the positive social implications in the framework that CO2 Neutral Website offers, paired with their transparency and traceability on the projects run, led us to choose them for this initiative.
There are many wonderful initiatives happening to combat excessive emissions, namely green technology, renewable energy and numerous environmental efficiency strategies. Slowly but surely our global community is taking great action to combat the causes of the climate crisis, which in itself is much too far along for companies and individuals to take a ‘neutral’ stance.