You be the judge!
This is what 0.4 tonnes of C02 reduction looks like!
Ellie and I spent the morning putting the finishing touches on On The Move Organics’ application for London Chamber of Commerce Environmental Leadership award – “open to all companies that have successfully set new standards for innovation, business performance and leadership for theenvironment.” Unbeknownst to us somebody out there nominated us. If it happens to be you, please accept our thanks. We’re very flattered.
Putting together the application, however, proved to be quite a challenge. Step one, “Has your business developed an environmental policy?” We stumbled out of the blocks. Operating with the environment in mind is undoubtedly central to our business practices, leading us to always prioritize local organic produce, deliver whenever possible by human powered transport, and compost all of our organic waste. However, we never actually sat down and formalized a policy. No problem, Ellie whipped one up for us. (If you want to read it in its entirety, we can send it to you)
We were off to the races and began outlining all of our activities including salvaging and reclaiming materials during construction and renovation projects, bike delivery, composting, use of compostable containers, use of reusable delivery bins, returning of cardboard containers to the local organic farmers from whom we pick up produce. A quick tour of The Root Cellar will reveal reclaimed skid wood used for trim and railings, reclaimed sinks in the dish pit, a vanity in the small washroom that was pieced together from two separate vanities that were picked up off the curb with the addition of a faucet from another renovation job. Hidden from view are elements like the hundred or so 2x4 studs that we painstakingly pulled the nails from during demolition in order to reuse them for non-structural building components.
Moving right along we got to the “Provide Documentation” section. We needed metrics and quantitative data and tracking figures and charts and graphs, oh my. How much waste do we divert by composting? How many tonnes of C02 emissions do we eliminate by pedaling? What quantity of materials do we reuse? We really didn’t know. To be honest, we had never considered measuring such things because it never really occurred to us to do otherwise. Compost goes in the compost, recycling goes in therecycling, and if we can get there by bicycle, we’ll go there by bicycle. But, we needed numbers to fulfillthe application. Rather than invent some, we went back in time. I thumbed through the past years’ delivery sheets to figure out the percentage of deliveries accomplished by bicycle in season (a whopping 26.2%) and then calculated the average delivery route to come up with an estimate of thetotal number of kilometers traveled (742km! Or London to Montreal!), and then worked out the fuel savings of not having the truck do those deliveries (140L of diesel!) to give us a total 0.40 tonnes of C02 eliminated. Go Joel! (And myself and Jeff on occasion). A step onto the scale with a week’s worth of compost from The Root Cellar and our Juice bar at the market yielded an impressive 180lbs of organic waste destined for our compost facility (just over 9000lbs/year).
Some interesting and revealing numbers to be sure. So, all in all a useful exercise, but the need to quantify and track left out much of what we do. How do you quantify the environmental (and indeed social) value of prioritizing local and organic producers? Take this week’s standard local box as an example. It’s the beginning of November, and asides from the fruit, everything was produced locally! That required some decisions on our end. Do we put chard from California in the box? It’s cheaper and varies the box contents. No, we’ll go with John’s kale again, because - in addition to being fantastic at this time of year (the cold weather makes it sweeter) - it’s from a nearby farmer that we (and yourselves) choose to support. While such decisions don’t lend themselves to tracking figures and neat graphs, and so the judges might not fully appreciate them, we’ll let you be the judges this week.