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How do carbon offsets fit in with a sustainability strategy?

I wish it was black and white. If only “sustainability” was something that one could switch on and off.

Then it would be simple — those who “cared” would switch it on and those who don’t could leave the switch in the off position.

But the reality is that sustainability isn’t a simple thing to bring into a business. With climate change knocking (and in some places has already broken down the door) — what can businesses do to address the issue?

We’re all on a sustainability journey, whether you’re an individual or representing a business.

And mostly, we’re in the passenger seat. But there are always things we can do, directions we can give, to influence where we’re headed.

After spending over 2 years fully immersed in climate change and solutions for it, I’ve realised that making a commitment to be more sustainable is a huge win. Every journey starts with this first step.

Equally, we need to respect that not everyone is equally far on their sustainability journey.

For businesses, adopting practices that fight climate change, or adapt to them is critical. Understandably, simple solutions with a guaranteed environmental return on their investment will be chosen first.

Early actions include putting climate change on the board agenda, getting buy-in from colleagues (and the board), and acting on solutions that have customer-facing implications.

As businesses progress through their sustainability journey, often they find that sustainability is good for business, and will make it a brand pillar.

At this point, we’ve seen businesses starting to seriously adopt industry-specific climate change solutions, ranging from materials selection, supply chain, through to staff and contractors to name a few.

To those of you who have taken these steps, congratulations. You’ve made it to where we, as a planet, need to be.

Life of a business who is deeply dedicated to sustainability

With over 450 businesses onboard with CarbonClick, we’ve seen the full breadth of where businesses are on their sustainability journey, and we’ve seen a lot of the challenges they face.

Whether it’s clothing stores sourcing vegan alternatives to leather, or SME’s understanding and reducing the carbon footprint of a home office, it gets increasingly challenging to tackle every next initiative. Balance that with surviving as a business in an increasingly competitive environment, increasing sales, cart conversation, customer loyalty, average basket size…

We know it’s not easy!

There’s a limited number of things you can do as a business. At some point, you might have started looking at offsetting (or balancing) the carbon footprint of your business. For those who haven’t, it’s all about funding projects that fight climate change (like renewable energy and forest conservation) that reduce carbon in the atmosphere.

But sadly, carbon offsetting isn’t easy either!

This is one of the reasons why we’ve built CarbonClick, a platform that makes carbon offsetting simple. My mission as the Chief Product Officer has been to make adding a carbon offsetting solution to any business a low hanging fruit on the tree of sustainability.

Carbon offsetting is an easy way for anyone to balance out their environmental impact. All it takes is making a contribution to these offset projects, and we can do so right now.

But less than 0.5% of business and less than 1% of consumers have ever engaged with carbon offsets… sad isn’t it?

Our dream is to make climate action available to every business. To enable every shopper to green their footprint while they are making a transaction online, with the click of a button at the checkout.

So how do carbon offsets fit into a sustainability journey?

There is no doubt, carbon offsets are a powerful tool in the fight against climate change. But you wouldn’t build a house with just a hammer.

We have to invest into high-impact actions that avoid and reduce our carbon footprint in the first place.

Without a doubt, start with those. If you avoid a business flight and replace it with a video conference, you’re not only saving the environment but you’re saving the bottom line. Or, if you implement a energy saving programme, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

And if you’re a business considering carbon offsets — don’t put it off because you don’t know where to start, or you think it’s only for airlines.

We’ve made it easy and cost-effective for any business. A no brainer. What was once something difficult to take action on, is now simple.

Join the movement of businesses fighting climate change and reaping the rewards.

Our planet will thank us for it.

How do Carbon Offsets fit in with a sustainability strategy? was originally published in CarbonClick on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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