HyphenEarth – Looking back and moving forward to net zero

At Hyphen8, we’re passionate about the role we can (and should) play to contribute to a greener future. Our HyphenEarth team aims to slash our carbon footprint and guide our company on the transformative steps that will lead to net-zero emissions. As spring unfurls, and the natural world comes back to life around us, we take a moment to reflect on what we’ve achieved and crucially, what we can do better.

Inspired by one of our values to “share our knowledge”, we are excited to share what we have learnt so far on our fascinating journey to help you accelerate on your own mission to net zero!

Measuring your impact

Analysing your emissions is crucial. Not just to see how much progress you’ve made, but also to see much further you can go! Don’t get bogged down in the detail though. Getting the stats is important, but you’ve also got to do it quickly, and in a way that lets you compare yourself with your peers.

Initially, we tried to calculate our emissions manually. This gave us some interesting insights, but it was incredibly labour-intensive and left our team drowning in a flood of expense receipts and mileage claims!

Instead, we opted to use the Business Carbon Calculator available from the SME Climate Hub which calculated our carbon emissions for FY22/23 as 69.4 metric tons CO2E. Using this tool reduced the time to estimate, and gave us clearer insights and areas for improvement.

As we look back on this now, we’ve learned some important lessons on how to approach emissions estimates:

  • Don’t underestimate how much time and data analysis can be required
  • Be prepared to put the work in, but be prepared to draw the line somewhere – don’t waste your time trying to track every gram of CO2!
  • Analysis paralysis is a danger – there’s a risk that you could spend too much time worrying about your stats and not enough time enacting solutions
  • Use the tools available to you, be realistic about the data you need, and be humble enough to copy what your peers are doing!

Our Hotspots

Our main carbon emitting activities clearly stand out as follows:

  • Business Travel: we mostly meet our customers and partners virtually, but sometimes the face-to-face touch is needed (13.8 tons)
  • Goods & Services: Emissions from the things we buy from other businesses such as software, HR and legal services. (55.6 tons)
  • Events: putting on events for both customers and our team can involve significant emissions, including the combined output from everyone’s travel who attended.

Our data collection methodology meant that Events emissions are currently reflected in both “Business Travel” and “Good & Services”, and can’t be easily broken out. One of the ways we’ll improve next year is by better categorising our spend to give us more granular reporting.

While many companies find that commuting and running an office makes a hefty contribution to their emissions, Hyphen8 is fully remote – this gives us a great advantage in some ways. We don’t have an office to heat and light, and our team don’t need to commute.

Goods and suppliers

To reduce our consumption, we’ve looked at all areas of our direct and indirect supply chain to see where we can reduce waste spend, and make more sustainable purchasing decisions.

Every quarter, we recognise internal excellence (for those who go above and beyond) by dishing out STAR awards to the team. Previously, this was in the form of an Amazon gift voucher. To help those of us who didn’t want to cash in their rewards with a global conglomerate, we now give our team Perkbox points. This means people can choose where they spend their points, and let them make more sustainable choices - they can even choose to convert these points into charitable donations!

Our team are encouraged to make more sustainable choices across the board, as we help them to:

  • Select ethical investments, and making sure that pensions aren’t funding fossil fuels
  • Opt for an renewable energy provider or a greener tariff
  • Reduce consumption at home, with tips on how to minimise usage while staying comfortable
  • Choose more eco-friendly travel options, and highlighting the positives! For example, catching up and collaborating with colleagues on a train instead of driving.

This doesn’t just bring environmental benefits. Our audit of our supply chain meant that we could cut unnecessary spend on things like un-used software licenses, freeing up money that can be better used to support our customers, our team, and the charities that we donate our time and profits to.

Since starting our HyphenEarth Community of Practice, we are proud of the progress made so far, and we’re committed to improve year on year. With the aspiration to become a beacon of sustainability for other small businesses, we know that we still have a long way to go, and we’re always open to new ideas and initiatives.

To see how your organisation can reduce your emissions, check out the SME Climate Hub website for a wealth of information and resources to help you on your journey.