Sustainability Basics course – you too can make a difference

I recently completed a six-week Sustainability Basics course run by Small Business Britain and Oxford Brookes Business School. Consisting of six different modules, the programme took place entirely online, with additional support available via a Facebook group. This is also where networking amongst like-minded businesses took, and still is taking place.


Flyer of the Sustainability Basics course




During the course, I learnt plenty of interesting information: for example, many people think that going green is expensive, but our tutors explained that when it comes to energy, resources, etc., 37% of savings could be achieved with zero capital investment.


Taking part in the programme helped me understand subjects such as measuring business emissions, creating positive returns for all stakeholders, and carbon offsetting.


Although I’m a one-woman business, I too need to take responsibility for my actions when it comes to the environment. I’d like to share with you some sustainable successes of my journey, and things I still need to work on.


 

The five buckets of emissions


Adam Bastock, the founder of Small99, a company aiming to help small business owners achieve a net zero, was one of the tutors on the course. In week two, he introduced the concept of five buckets of emissions to us. They are:


Energy

Transport

Building

Procurement

Waste


Let’s dive in and see how Polka Dot Translations is doing in each of them.


 

Energy


The good

✅ Energy supplied by So Energy, who offer 100% renewable energy

✅ Switching computer off each evening


The bad

❌ Working with a light on most of the time

❌ Still using gas


Things I can’t control

🤷 My office gets extremely dull, so a light on when I’m at the computer is a must

🤷 I rent my flat, so switching away from gas is not as easy as in an owned property


Things I can control and need to pay closer attention to

🧐 I’m not entirely sure if all of my light bulbs are LED bulbs. Need to check this!

🧐 I don’t know how much energy each appliance uses – might need to invest in a smart plug that measures power usage


Lightbulb hanging from the ceiling


 

Transport


The good

✅ No car – going to local clients by foot, bike or public transport

✅ Travelling to UK-based events by train (Note that I will be taking a flight from Aberdeen to London to make it on time to the ITI Conference in Brighton)


The bad

❌ Getting to international events by plane


Things I can’t control

🤷 The way that clients who drop their documents travel to me; some might drive

🤷 The distance – sometimes going by plane is the only option for me (train tickets being very expensive, time needed to travel)


Things I can control and need to pay closer attention to

🧐 Since I don’t drive, I can offer to get to local clients myself, or when giving my address, let them know about public transport options

🧐 I can offset my work trips


Alicja, a white woman with dark blond hair, poses with her road bike inside her flat

 

Building


The good

✅ ? Nothing comes to mind...


The bad

❌ Poor building insulation, which makes it cold and, ultimately, not sustainable


Things I can’t control

🤷 It is a rented property, so I have little control over this


Things I can control and need to pay closer attention to

🧐 As we are currently looking to buy our own flat, we are paying close attention to insulation in viewed properties, and are budgeting for a possible investment in this


Close up a of a Black woman holding a white candle

 

Procurement


The good

✅ Majority of my translation projects involve the subjects of sustainability and/or inclusion

✅ I work with many local providers


The bad

❌ Some of my end-clients aren't as sustainable as I’d like them to be

❌ I suspect that some of my end-clients are actively greenwashing their actions


Things I can’t control

🤷 Unfortunately, at the moment I can’t afford to drop all of my clients who don’t fit my ideal sustainable client persona


Things I can control and need to pay closer attention to

🧐 I can be proactive about finding new sustainable clients, who would eventually replace the not-so-green ones


Two bamboo toothbrushes in a jar

 

Waste


The good

✅ Printing reduced to only absolutely necessary documents

✅ Using a Green Line stamp for certified translation


The bad

❌ Can’t seem to stop sending clients and colleagues New Year cards

❌ Recently (summer 2021) purchased a new, non-refurbished laptop


Things I can’t control

🤷 I do need to update equipment every once in a while


Things I can control and need to pay closer attention to

🧐 I could come up with another way to wish colleagues and clients a happy new year

🧐 Next time I need a new screen or laptop, I could try and see if I could purchase a repurposed model


Alicja's certified translation stamp

 

What now?

Providing services rather than selling products doesn’t mean that our work has no effect on the environment. Yes, we emit less than fast fashion shops, but we still produce emissions.


Attending the Sustainable Basics course has taught me that it’s all about the journey, not the destination. I still have a lot to do. I'd like to:


🌱 Start measuring my actual emissions

🌱 Proactively look for more sustainable clients

🌱 Try renting out equipment or buying it refurbished

🌱 Paying closer attention to my providers: do I buy from NET Zero businesses?


Here’s my pledge:

By September 2022, I will publish a Sustainability Policy,

with a clear offsetting plan.



Feel inspired? Want to join the course? It’s running again in September! You can sign up here!


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