Earth Day 2022

Written by Jonny in Culture

Earth day 2022

Invest in our planet

At a recent climate protest, I saw the following written on a placard:

If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

These questions coupled with the latest IPCC reports has led us to realise that we are simply not doing enough to mitigate climate change. So today on Earth Day, I’m outlining four new commitments that 10 Degrees are making to help protect our planet’s future.

Every day should feel like Earth Day and however small our impact, every decision we make affects our planet. This year’s Earth Day theme is Invest in our Planet.

As our financial year came to an end in March, our MD Lynda presented our twelve month plan to invest. Invest in our team, processes, software and our sustainability.

The last two years have been incredibly hard but we are fortunate to now be in the best financial position that we ever have been. This success is due to the efforts of our team, our clients and our strategy. We now have a new, clear set of values that define who we are, what we stand for and how we approach decision making.

We see and take so much inspiration from others in our industry. It can be overwhelming to find focus amongst that inspiration – with the constant nag of, ‘are we doing enough?’

To find that focus, I remind myself not to worry about the past, but to concentrate on the future: building the new and not fighting the old. And this makes a lot of sense when we also think about climate change and sustainability.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
– Socrates

Managing sustainability

At a recent team day, I outlined our commitments to sustainability by discussing our partnership with FuturePlus. FuturePlus is a digital platform which gives organisations a structured process for managing their journey towards greater sustainability.

For full transparency, FuturePlus are also a client of ours and we built the platform, but we voluntarily signed up and pay full price for our subscription.

Each part of the platform is aligned to the UN’s set of seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s therefore aligned with the UN’s goals which seems a pretty good place to start.

Completing our FuturePlus assessment wasn’t onerous – we answered a set of questions and provided evidence of our answers. If we were unable to answer a question then we set an ambition for when we would aim to achieve it.

The assessment result is a score breakdown of five themes, along with an actual score (how we are doing now) and an ambition score (how well we could be doing). These are 10 Degrees’ scores:

Each individual theme is out of 100 which add up to the actual and ambition scores out of 500.

As well as scores, we were given a roadmap of goals to achieve within our set ambitions. Achieving those goals within the committed timeframes is where our investment of time will be.

Commitment #1: We will commit to achieving our FuturePlus ambitions in order to align our business with the UN’s sustainable development goals. We will share our progress as we go.

If you are also looking for a manageable way to help your organisation’s sustainability journey, I recommend looking at FuturePlus.

Investing in climate justice

For us, fighting climate change is not just about reducing our own impact, it is also about fighting for justice. As part of the global north, we are responsible for the injustices occurring in the global south due to historic emissions and inaction. This is inequality.

We live in one of the richest nations on the planet and we are responsible for the extraction of the Earth’s limited resources in the pursuit of economic growth and profit. Global leaders and politicians all know this, yet too little is being done to avoid climate catastrophe at a macro level.

10 Degrees is already pretty lean when it comes to emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3), water, waste and general energy use. We are beginning to monitor these annually as part of our FuturePlus roadmap with a plan to reduce each one even further.

Last Earth Day we signed up to Ecologi as a small step towards becoming a regenerative business. In 12 months we’ve helped plant 1,571 trees and offset 106 tonnes of CO2e by making our workforce climate positive.

However, carbon offsetting offers organisations an easy way to greenwash their carbon-rich activities. Becoming ‘carbon neutral’ by offsetting is not enough – we must all reduce our carbon emissions, waste and natural resources drastically.

Tree planting is also a good first line of defence, but not at the cost of biodiversity which is regularly mentioned in the press. We have faith in Ecologi that they’re taking the right steps to reforestation and other impactful carbon programmes.

It’s worth keeping in mind that each climate initiative that doesn’t involve reducing emissions may just be a sticky plaster over the problem.

Commitment #2: We will continue to invest in tree planting and making our team climate positive by reducing our emissions, water usage and waste.

Breaking supply chain ecocide

As scientists and activists are raising the alarm on the effects of climate change, they are also drawing attention to the corporations causing ecocide. Companies such as Shell, BP, Lloyds of London and Barclays are all continuing to invest and support projects promoting new fossil fuel developments.

Such investments are ecocide.

Ecocide describes what is happening to our planet; the mass damage and destruction of the natural living world. It literally means “killing one’s home”. It’s not illegal in most countries.

Small as we may be, we will not be bystanders to this.

We already have a strong ethical policy that means we will not work with clients who work in unethical industries (e.g. fossil fuels, guns/arms, gambling, animal exploitation) or organisations known to use exploitation as a means to profit.

But we have been negligent with assessing our suppliers and that is something we will be changing from today.

As an immediate action we will no longer be using Barclays for our every day banking. In 2021 alone they provided $5.6bn of finance towards fossil fuel projects. Five billion dollars spent on destroying the planet. With our cash held there, we are complicit in those projects.

We will be using our Starling account instead – they have a great ethical policy as well as a great API and tidy integrations with our other systems.

Commitment #3: We are reviewing all our suppliers to ensure our supply chain is not responsible for ecocide. We call on other businesses to do the same.

Our sustainable future

Our office has been supplied with renewable energy for four years. Last year we launched our electric vehicle scheme to our team in order to promote the shift from fossil fuels.

But this is not enough.

Our ultimate goal is to have our own net zero building but finding the land to do so is the trickiest part. I imagine a small plot of land which houses our net zero office building, powered by solar panels with batteries. We’ll harvest rain water for flushing toilets and making compost from food waste to use in our organic vegetable garden. We’ll have space to plant our own mini forest.

It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? It’ll be incredibly hard work to achieve all of that but having a vision is important to us.

Commitment #4: Our office lease is due to expire in 2023 so we have begun looking for our next sustainable home. If we can’t find the land then we’ll be undertaking enough due diligence to ensure our rent is paid to a company with similar values to ours.

Earth Day tips

I hope our actions and commitments will inspire you to make your own changes and encourage others to do the same.

If you’re looking for other ways to help our planet, the Earth Day website has lots of useful and easily achieveable tips:

The Author

Jonny Vaughan

Founder & Technical Director of 10 Degrees. Jonny's day to day focus is on determining the best technical solutions for our clients, driving technical innovation and leading our sustainability agenda.

The 10 Degrees Team