Having a Carbon Negative strategy: Tidy Green Clean’s purpose and partners

Green pinwheel, globe, 'CO2' cloud balancing on seesaw

The BSI Net Zero Barometer Report 2023 states that “The Climate Change Act commits the UK Government by law to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels by 2050 – in other words, net zero. The ambition has scaled up from the original legislation in recent years, and the UK is now also committed to reducing emissions by 78% by 2035.” Whether or not the incumbent government is wobbling over these commitments, one thing is certain, and clear from the BSI’s report, British businesses are just getting on with it.

Tidy Green Clean achieved ISO 14001, the environmental management standard, within three years of starting the business (2016-2019), because we knew from the beginning that People, Standards, and the Environment, our values, were of critical importance to how we approached running the business. Yet strategically, we wanted to go further for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have a clear vision for how we want to conduct ourselves; secondly because we believe it’s simply the right thing to do; and finally, it’s the pragmatic choice as well because of the inevitable way the legislative and commercial landscape in the UK is progressing.

Since 2020, we’ve partnered with Carbon-Zero UK Ltd because the team’s approach and mindset resonated with our own. They work in the Northeast of Scotland mostly and are looking to expand across the UK. Advising all types of businesses, from service, manufacturing, energy, pharmaceutical, and many more; initially, we invited them to provide us with an carbon evaluation to see what our carbon status was.

When we put in for tenders, increasingly our approach to our carbon footprint is part of the equation, our ISO14001 a prerequisite. Interestingly SMEs are responsible for 50% of emissions (BSI) and 47% still have not yet engaged with the challenge of reducing them.

For us, it was really important that our carbon evaluation wasn’t just a box ticking exercise. We realised as well what great partners Carbon Zero are when we were going for accreditation and happened to mention how challenging the process rightly is. They were able to support us with that process; notably at least 17 of those criteria/questions were about carbon emissions. Box ticking is not what we’re about!

TGC’s carbon assessment showed a low carbon footprint but we wanted to go the extra mile. There were lots of great adjustments and improvements we could do to improve how we were doing, such as increasing bottle sizes to reduce shipping and logistics, plastic and carbon. We are actively carbon neutral under our own steam. We decided to invest further, to offset our existing carbon emissions to make the business carbon negative. Under the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the United Nations set up processes to enable businesses in the Global North to be able to support low or zero carbon projects in the Global Majority. The UN’s projects include one that TGC supports.

This project focuses on building safe water boreholes to save the hours spent walking to collect water that’s dirty and infected. Clean water saves and changes lives. It also reduces the amount of wood cut down to make fires to boil water to try and purify it. There’s a fantastic case study you can read about it here. The project is changing lives, empowering women and their families to be educated and run businesses instead of having to spend their days trudging to get water that then makes them sick. This particular project satisfies five of the 19 sustainable development goals the UN has set.

There’s noise in the media discussing ‘greenwashing’ and that carbon offsetting can be little more than buying credits for accreditation. At Tidy Green Clean, we walk the walk, and have stringent policies and company goals to ensure we continue to reduce our footprint and meet our own emission targets.

We’ll leave the final words to a contributor to BSI’s latest Barometer. Because it defines where we are as a business and where we know others are heading for too.

“There has been a sea change in attitude and understanding of net zero and there is a genuine intention from companies to get on board. Companies now know that they need to get a handle on their carbon burden.” Dr Paula Owen Environmental and Sustainability Specialist, Green Gumption

We want this for every one of our customers, partners and even our competitors too, because this is bigger than all of us. Being Carbon Negative isn’t a badge of honour, it’s an ongoing statement of intent.

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