To deliver on our sustainability targets in our day-to-day operations, we make the following commitments:
“If the Internet was a country, it would be the 6th largest polluter”.
As a digital campaigning organisation, City to Sea acknowledges the need to account for our online carbon footprint and the negative impacts of third-party service providers.
Furthermore, we acknowledge that whilst the Covid-19 lockdown has reduced our travel footprint, the carbon impact of homeworking has increased due to a greater reliance on web-based software.
We aim to choose technology that aligns with our ethics, though, as a small organisation we are reliant on the use of free software, which limits our freedom in this respect. Our website is hosted on a green energy server; however, our cloud and App storage is hosted on large multi-national providers. Following research, we have discovered that most of our software providers e.g., Buffer and Trello are using these servers also.
We acknowledge that companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon use renewable energy credits to claim their data centres are powered by renewable energy rather than having direct solar or wind installations. Many of these companies now have pledges to directly source renewable energy.
Sphere of control
Presently, being able to track and account for our digital carbon footprint is a challenge as the metrics are not readily available. However, as an organisation, we can reduce our digital footprint through 6 monthly digital data purges. The Operations department will coordinate this process across the organisation, though individual departments will ultimately carry out deletion of data and archiving. Tasks include:
- Team members deleting and archiving e-mails.
- Deleting older files from newsletter servers.
- Improving the website and app performance which also decreases energy consumption.
- Reviewing and deleting files that are no longer needed from our SharePoint storage system.
Additionally, we can:
- Sign the Sustainable Web Manifesto (see below).
- Evaluate new open–source software options and switch to these when they are economically and functionally viable e.g., alternative video conferencing and data storage.
Sphere of influence
Whilst we cannot control how data servers are powered, we can lobby our providers and ask they join the Sustainable Web Manifesto.
When we are working with new PR agencies, we will share the Creative Declare Climate Emergency document (add link) and ask them to make a pledge.
Sphere of concern
We acknowledge that not only do companies like Amazon and Facebook have energy impacts they are also tech monopolies that hold disproportionate power, sell users data and have been linked with spreading dangerous misinformation.
At times we may receive pro-bono support from digital agencies or services. In these instances, we may have less ability to select based on and influence their sustainable and ethical values. This will always be considered and the benefits versus drawbacks weighed up.
2. Supply chain, stakeholders and partners
Whilst we do not produce goods, we acknowledge the impact of the products and services we purchase and are associated with. As such we have a sustainable procurement policy, found below, that informs our purchasing choices and is shared with all team members that have purchasing responsibilities.
We also work closely with our approved product partners to support them in understanding their own environmental impacts. As part of our commitment to inspire our stakeholders and improve our supply chain, we have created a questionnaire for all existing and new suppliers and partners to complete which includes questions about the SDG’s and climate emergency declarations.
3. Travel & transport
Following 2020’s precedent for online meetings, our default for meetings is online followed by central city locations to enable team members to travel by public transport.
Our travel hierarchy for out-of-town events and meetings is public transport for both UK and Europe. Based on our Annual Company Objectives we have a travel matrix to identify what international and European plane travel is essential and unavoidable.
City to Sea is an accredited Climate Perks employer offering paid ‘journey days’ to encourage low carbon holiday travel for team members.
Adhering to the European Waste Hierarchy, we follow the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and recovery before disposal. In times when we have an office, we commit to auditing the materials in our general waste and recycling streams and taking measures to tackle these including a lunch box scheme and Terracycle collections for the building. Where we are tenants, we hold landlords to account on the waste hierarchy.
5. Monitoring & measuring
In order to continually improve and deliver on our sustainability and climate emergency targets, we will monitor and measure our activities to understand our environmental, social and economic impact.
We are annually benchmarking our company practices against the Sustainable Development Goals B-Corp tool.
As part of our commitment to declare a climate, ecological and planetary emergency we are adopting the latest guidance and data to account for the harder to quantify carbon impacts created by COVID19, such as homeworking use of online communication systems.
6. Company carbon accounting
We acknowledge that carbon offsetting/accounting is not a solution to climate emergency and should not be used in place of carbon reduction. However, as a responsible business, we wish to account for our day-to-day business and travel carbon impacts and donate the money to schemes that align with our values.
In 2019, we invested in blue carbon ecosystems. Instead of buying trees we bought a seaweed cube that will be used to create seaweed habitats for marine life within the UK. This will also sequester carbon at a much faster rate than buying saplings. Whilst trees take 5 years before they start sequestering carbon, seaweed begins after 3 months.
7. Continuous improvement
We are committed to continual improvement through regular assessment and review of our business processes, event planning and implementation. Furthermore, we are committed to adhering to appropriate legal requirements and other requirements, which are applicable to our operations.
We are supported to achieve these commitments by Livvy Drake, our in-house Behaviour Change and Sustainability Consultant and nominated sustainability champion.
We also hold a sustainable procurement policy.
Policy reviewed: 27.01.2021
Next review date: 27.01.2022