Making green greener

Making green greener

How Durham Wildlife Trust is starting to address its carbon footprint.

The link between the climate and ecological crises

As Head of Operations and Development it is my job to make sure that Durham Wildlife Trust is the most efficient organisation that it can be. Obviously our commitment to reversing the ecological crisis is clear and many of the things we do work towards addressing this. But how does this work to address the climate crisis and how can addressing this make us more efficient?

The climate crisis is a similar challenge to the ecological crisis, but the solutions can sometimes look very different. Addressing climate change can feel like a huge and daunting job so the Trust needed a plan as to how we were going to play our part in addressing it.

Data is King

First of all, data is king. So we needed to start gathering data on where we were at now and where we had come from in order to work out where we could make most improvements.

We were lucky enough to be granted some funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery via The Wildlife Trusts nationally. This enabled us to enlist the services of Capability North East to help us with data collection and collation. This data will also contribute the national Wildlife Trusts carbon foot printing exercise.

Getting our house in order

Durham Wildlife Trust is also part of the North East Climate Coalition and VONNE Climate Action Alliance which has been a brilliant support in helping organisations like us to get our house in order and support the wider local, national and international climate crisis.

So we pulled together all our internal data for: staff and volunteer mileage and commutes, grazing animals, electricity and water use, fuel consumption on pool vehicles, and paper and ink.

We did this for 19/20 and we are in the process of doing this for 20/21, obviously the comparison will be really interesting with many less miles travelled and offices closed – this comes with its own challenges to - how do we assess the working from home impact? We will need to do that if we are going to correctly assess our impact.

Easy wins and challenges

A quick and easy change for us was moving to 100% renewable energy and replacing all our bulbs with LEDS. More challenging things include our heating system in the offices, which is very outdated, but very expensive to replace and as we don’t own the building these choices and investments may not be ours to make.

So once we have gathered our data we will be working alongside the experts at Investors in the Environment to look at those practical changes we can make. Some of these will be straightforward for me to implement, as head of operations and development, but others will require all of our staff and volunteers to be involved in changing the way we think and do things. Things might take longer as we take more care to measure, like looking at our waste, and managing that more carefully than we do already.

This is before we have even considered the carbon impact, positive or negative, that our sites have.

Changes take time

I can already hear many of you getting frustrated as you read this – Why haven’t Durham Wildlife Trust been doing this already? Why are we not moving faster? Surely this should be a top priority?

I would address this by saying that we want to be transparent in this challenging journey. We want to make permanent and sustainable change.

In order to make our limited funds work for us in the most effective way it is important to think longer term, so the obvious things that you might think we should do right away may not be the best or most sustainable solution long term. For example, the move to 100% renewable energy, although an important one we felt must do, does not make our energy use carbon neutral because there simply is not enough renewable energy in the grid for everyone to be on a green tariff, so we must reduce our consumption permanently in order to have a wider more positive impact.

Tracking our progress

I will keep you updated on our plan of action when we have finalised it and how we are doing and hopefully I can share our learnings with you and you can take something from it for your own life or organisation.