Carbon Offsetting for Vets by Vets!
Let's start with the basics:
Firstly, we need to produce far fewer emissions; this is the most important mission of all.
What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint?
Heating our practices and offices (and providing hot water) are amongst our greatest business energy uses. Aim to use the most energy efficient systems you can and opt for renewable energy supplies instead of fossil fuels
Once we've heated our buildings and water you'd be horrified to learn how easily that heat is then lost from poorly insulated buildings, pipes and water tanks. All waste is bad - wasted heat is no different.
Ambulatory vets often drive high mileages in heavily loaded vehicles. Do you have the most efficient car or van you can get? Are you doing all you can to reduce your mileage and the weight of equipment you are carrying around?
Worldwide use of inhalation anaesthetic has a similar effect on climate as a million cars. Nitrous oxide has particularly long-lasting damaging effects on the ozone layer and any reductions in its use are likely to be beneficial
How much waste does your practice produce? Not just clinical waste, think standard office waste, packaging waste, water waste, electricity and lighting waste, mail waste, food waste, etc, etc, etc.
Q. What waste could you cut out or reduce? A. Probably more than you're already doing...
In an ideal world we would all reduce our carbon footprints down to zero in order to combat climate change. Until we get there, the carbon sequestration provided by trees provides one of the greatest means of offsetting the remainder, providing multiple additional benefits to the environment.
It started as a mission to begin carbon offsetting just one vet's - completely unsustainable - annual 50,000 business miles (plus trains, domestic & international flights) whilst he grappled with decreasing his carbon footprint. VetOffset is the world's first carbon-sequestration business specifically for the veterinary profession, with a mission to offset the carbon-emissions that they also haven't yet managed to reduce. Fight climate change with tree planting!
We plant and nurture UK-sourced native broadleaf species to create new woodlands and hedgerows around the UK, very much focussed on the provision of new wildlife habitats. Think: beetle banks, long flowering seasons for pollinators, mixed species broadleaf woodlands and hedges incorporating nuts and fruits; in short, the ideal environments for birds, small mammals and invertebrates whilst doing our bit to counter climate change.
As well as planting new UK woodland, for every tree we plant we donate to recognised organisations committed to protecting established equatorial rainforest. Currently we are thrilled to be supporting Cool Earth ((coolearth.org). Saving the rainforest whilst tree planting and stewarding new UK woodlands - the perfect match!
We choose trees best suited for the particular locations in the UK and their likely future climates
We plant them with care and look after them to ensure that they reach maturity (they need to grow in order to lock-up the carbon!)
Our woods and hedges are all mixed-species and are intended to last!
We use natural mycorrhizal fungi to boost the root systems of all our young trees, giving them a strong start and a reduced dependence on supplementary watering
We love bees and other pollinators! We avoid harmful chemicals, and plant our woods strategically to provide long flowering seasons
Our woodlands are designed to provide important habitats for multiple wildlife species
The average UK annual carbon footprint is currently 10 tonnes per person (that's way too much!)
What can you do to reduce your existing footprint? That's your TOP priority!
However much of those 10 tonnes you can't yet eliminate or reduce is the amount to consider offsetting each year.
One large species native broadleaf tree, raised to full maturity, has the capacity to absorb 1 tonne of carbon during its life. Smaller trees (and certain locations) will permit less carbon-sequestration so when using those we just plant in greater numbers
Yes, we plant trees to offset carbon dioxide emissions, but we are very specific about the end result: wildlife habitat creation.
We are currently working on a bespoke carbon footprint calculator for veterinary practices. In the meantime, numerous generic calculators are available online to help further define your own, or your practice's, annual footprint.
Watch this space for news on a vet-specific calculator but in the meantime why not get tree planting?
Every tree, hedge or wood helps to combat climate change and provides new wildlife habitat!
Random musings from the fields and woodlands