We've got some exciting news on the sustainability front...
We’re celebrating our twentieth birthday this year at LeftLion. Since 2003 we’ve always tried to focus on the most important issues facing Nottingham, and there’s no getting away from it - the climate and nature crisis is the biggest issue humanity has collectively faced.
2022 was the the hottest year on record in the UK, and the country’s highest ever temperature of 40.3°C was hit just over the border in Lincolnshire. Nottingham locals will have felt the impacts in obvious ways like extreme weather, and less obviously in the knock-on effects on food prices.
For the last few years in particular we’ve been working hard to better understand and address our environmental impact, as we get behind Nottingham’s ambitious bid to go carbon neutral by 2028. We’ve now hit that carbon neutral target as a business, with minimal offsetting, and we want to help others get there too.
We’ve gone carbon neutral, reducing our direct emissions by 99%
Being carbon neutral means that we’re reducing or balancing out all of our direct emissions - the fuel we’re burning and the energy we’re using ourselves. It doesn’t include things other businesses make and do for us; balancing those external emissions too would make us “net zero”.
LeftLion Ltd is now a carbon neutral company as of 2023, reducing our direct emissions by 99% (98.9% to be precise) since 2018, and offsetting the 1% that remains. We received excellent support in calculating our emissions from Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University. They’ve also helped us set a target of going fully net zero by 2025, meaning we’ll be reducing and balancing both our direct and indirect emissions.
LeftLion Ltd is now a carbon neutral company as of 2023, reducing our direct emissions by 99%
We offset the remaining 1% of our emissions via direct air capture from Climeworks, meaning that we’re immediately taking that carbon out of the atmosphere.
Why not just plant trees? That’s something we’re keen to support too, but we’re aware that it takes trees a very long time to grow and meet their carbon capturing potential - offsetting calculations are typically based on trees growing for forty years, and we don’t have forty years to reach net zero. This way we know that carbon dioxide is safely removed and locked away in solid form.
In fact, we’re removing 100 kilograms of carbon from the atmosphere to make sure we cover any overshoot of our forecasted 60 kilograms of direct emissions, which is what we produced in 2022. Where are those emissions coming from? Well we’re still burning fuel in a car to make a few of our longer range deliveries, but we’re working on that - soon many of our deliveries will be done via an electric cargo bike from Raleigh (more on that when we get it).
How did we do it?
Reducing our emissions started with understanding where our energy comes from, and how we’re using it. To aid this, we undertook carbon literacy and management training, also for free via NTU, and realised that a large proportion of our direct emissions were coming from the electricity we were using at the office.
Our biggest emissions saving came when we switched to a renewable energy tariff in 2021, meaning our electricity is all produced through wind, solar and hydro, which reduces our office electricity footprint to zero. To reduce energy use, we also replaced inefficient and expensive oil-based electric radiators with an air conditioning system, which not only saved us a lot of money but, as the NBS analysis shows, also had a large knock-on effect of lowering our emissions.
Digital activities like running a website also have a carbon footprint, but we’ve managed to reduce those to zero too - LeftLion.co.uk’s servers are now powered using 100% renewable energy, and other web services we use to run our business are all carbon neutral.
Our biggest emissions saving came when we switched to a renewable energy tariff in 2021, meaning our electricity is all produced through wind, solar and hydro, which reduces our office electricity footprint to zero
But that doesn’t include the magazine!
That’s right, the magazine actually counts as an indirect (scope three) emission, as we don’t print it ourselves. However our printers are also working hard on sustainability, and doing a lot of the right things already, such as using 100% renewable energy to power their modern, energy efficient printing press.
LeftLion Magazine itself is printed using non-toxic paper and inks, making it fully recyclable and home compostable, and the paper used is recycled or from FSC® certified (C015932) sources. You can literally turn it into soil, locking in much of the carbon which trees capture whilst they’re growing. The emissions of this paper are also offset “cradle to gate” via the World Land Trust, so for every batch of magazines we print, around 160m2 of critically threatened tropical forest is protected from destruction.
The nature bit
We’re keenly aware that biodiversity is struggling, so we’re also looking at ways of boosting our natural environment.
To make a start we’ve built our own street garden outside the office, with free materials sourced from our neighbours, a lick of paint from Montana, and a bit of help sourcing plants and skills from our friends at Green Hustle. Have a look next time you’re wandering past the Carlton Road corner of Sneinton Market, you can’t miss it.
Another big reason wildlife’s struggling is because a lot of us have lost our understanding of nature, so we don’t really know what activities are harmful - for example using pesticides, or dropping litter. Living in cities, it can be hard to engage with nature and learn about it, so through our regular Environment section we also hope to reconnect our readers with nature, highlighting local experts, ideas, and action you can get involved with.
We’ve still got some work to do on our indirect emissions, mainly around our outsourced supermarket print deliveries and the office supplies we buy, but we’re well on the path to our target of reaching net zero (reducing and balancing both our direct and indirect emissions) by 2025.
We hope this encourages you to keep reading and supporting LeftLion long into the future, and we’re very happy to point you in the right direction or share our learnings if you need help getting started on your own journey.
For advice on business sustainability, email our environment lead and Partnetships Manager Adam Pickering on [email protected]
Find out more about Nottingham's bid to be carbon neutral by 2028 at Carbon Neutral Nottingham
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