First and foremost, whilst I am an ethical lifestyle blogger and podcaster, I’m just someone trying to be a more sustainable consumer every single day.
Of course that comes with its many challenges, as anyone who is trying to be kinder to the planet/animals/other people will know! But if there’s one thing that I find infinitely frustrating, it’s how often brands don’t pull their weight. I regularly get annoyed at the fact that I make so many changes in my life – many of which are, frankly, a bit of a ball ache – whilst huge corporations continue to pollute at an alarming rate. Despite their eye-wateringly large budgets and the fact that they have a huge amount of influence, so many companies simply refuse to change their around-since-the-60s business models.
I mean, for this “saving the planet” thing to work, I think we both have to put the effort in, right?
However, last week, I was lucky enough to be a part of the launch of Tropic Skincare’s brand new HQ in Croydon. I know. Total “pinch me” moment!
The whole day was bloody glorious from start to finish and I promise I’m not saying that just because I was fed vegan cupcakes. Although, that was part of it!
Mainly though, what made it so incredible was how it proved to me that there are some companies out there putting sustainability at the heart of what they do.
Everything about Tropic reflects their mission statement: Freshly Made, Cruelty-Free, Natural. Even the smallest of details seemed to have taken being ethical very seriously. Not only is every single one of their products completely cruelty-free, but they are all certified vegan, too. The list goes on. Their packaging is recyclable, they offer lower-waste refill packets and they’re currently working on making their packaging even more earth-friendly. They’re even one of the handful of companies in the world that are carbon-negative.
Now, trust me, being “Carbon Negative” really ain’t easy! In fact, it’s a ridiculously difficult task, as emphasised by the tiny number of companies that succeed at it. It takes massive amounts of dedication to constantly improving your company and processes to make them as green as physically possible.
Inspired by my recent visit to Tropic HQ and learning about how they’re offsetting their carbon emissions, I thought I would write a whole blog post about carbon-neutrality, carbon-negativity and why, as conscious consumers, we should be supporting companies that make the effort.
What is a carbon footprint?
Essentially, a carbon footprint is a calculation of how much greenhouse gas you produce, both directly and indirectly. It is usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide, also known as CO2. So, no, that doesn’t simply mean how often you generate greenhouse gasses through things like air travel! It also takes into consideration things like the transportation of your food, how much electricity you consume at home and how the packaging of your products is produced.
Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (the largest polluter), water vapour, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide and (wait for it) chlorofluorocarbons.
Of course, there are some obvious ways to reduce your footprint: Traveling by air less frequently. Switching to an electric car. Installing solar panels. That sorta thing!
However, there are also less “smack you in the face” obvious things to bear in mind when it comes to your carbon emissions. For example, how carbon-conscious the brands that you use are. It’s easy to simply think about the trip from the supermarket to home, or maybe from the Amazon depot to your front door when it comes to buying products. But there are a million other things to think about too: How was the packaging made? Where were the ingredients transported from? What processes were used to make the product?
I know, I know, it all sounds hugely complicated. And that’s mainly because it kind of is! In fact, your average Joe like myself would find it nearly impossible to work out their exact carbon footprint, which can make reducing it all the more tricky.
That’s where carbon-neutral and carbon-negative companies come in and save the day (and your sanity!).
What is carbon neutral?
Being a carbon neutral brand means that you release no net carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Does that mean that the company don’t release carbon emissions at all? No, not usually. What it does mean though is that they use a practice called “carbon offsetting”. This is when actions are taken to actively remove greenhouse gasses from the environment, usually through things like the planting of trees which turn that tasty CO2 into oxygen.
So, essentially then, companies that are carbon neutral take enough emissions out of the atmosphere through carbon offsetting, to balance out the amount they produce.
What is carbon negative?
Carbon negative companies take it one step further. They truly are the most badass of eco-warriors.
Much like with carbon-neutral brands, carbon negative brands use offsetting to counteract the emissions they produce. However, they do so to such an extent that the scales are flipped. They reach the point where they are actually taking more emissions out of the atmosphere than they are producing.
Their actions mean that they are helping to rid the earth of some of the greenhouse gasses produced by the companies that simply don’t care enough. Shout out to them for taking one for the team, right?
For example, Tropic work tirelessly to reduce their emissions, looking at everything from the electricity and gas used at HQ, within shipments and, of course, at their incredible events! Then, they support the Acre Amazonian Rainforest Conservation Project in South America. In doing so they help to combat deforestation and biodiversity loss and to create more sustainable methods for handling the forest.
And voila! They’ve offset their emission and taken a bit extra for good measure.
Unfortunately, there are only a handful of carbon negative companies. Fortunately, numbers are on the rise! For now, aiming to buy your necessary products from companies that are carbon neutral if physically and financially possible is an incredible step to make in your eco-living journey.
In a world where so many companies are actively harming the environment, I think that we should all celebrate those that are proving they care.