Gymglish Goes Green
GreenGlish is the name we've given to a series of measures introduced in the company, with the aim of reducing our negative impact on the environment.
Carbon Footprint: limiting our impact on the environment
We keep an eye on the levels of CO2 generated directly or indirectly by what we do: energy consumption, our computer systems, travel, etc. Now, thanks to specialist help, we make a concerted effort to remain carbon neutral by contributing to positive projects such as reforestation programs and alternative energy projects. Our decision to become carbon neutral was inspired by the 'Tour du monde en 80 hommes' project (www.80hommes.com), and we are not alone in taking this step: many groups, businesses, and organizations have already made the same choice not to leave a carbon footprint. We also think it's important to keep up to date with the latest research developments, for example ensuring that the carbon offsetting projects we participate in do not have negative side effects.
Calculating and Compensating for Gymglish's CO2 Emissions
When calculating our CO2 emissions, we take the following points into account:
- The energy consumed at our Paris office (heating, lighting, etc.)
- All the travel undertaken by the team on a daily or less regular basis: car, train, metro, or plane journeys.
- The energy used to build our computer base (including hardware housed by external hosts).
We use a set of online calculation tools to establish just how much carbon we emit, and have decided to over-estimate the total slightly, to be sure that anything which we may have overlooked is still included. It should also be noted that this calculation is based on the assumption that none of our suppliers (PC manufacturers, public transport providers, airlines etc.) practices a carbon neutral policy itself. Our emissions calculations for 2008, 2009, and 2010 have been approved by EcoAct.
Projects to which we're contributing
We decided against pouring all our Carbon Footprint Budget into just one project or organization. GreenGlish is participating in a range of measures, in order to gain a certain level of experience and understanding of the field. This is particularly useful when we consider that new projects and measures are being created every day. The effectiveness of each offsetting measure in the long term is not yet known. However, it's important to keep an eye on any possible negative side-effects to these schemes (be they environmental, economic, or social). We are currently working with the following organizations:
EcoAct: Methane capture and biogas on an organic farm in Itararé, São Paulo, Brazil
The repercussions of the increase in livestock farming in Brazil are numerous. The decomposition of animal waste results in large quantities of methane (a greenhouse gas) being produced, as well as in the contamination of the air, water, and soil. This contamination in turn causes illness among the local population. The methane capture program is a responsible investment which aims to limit the environmental damage while providing a sustainable livelihood for local producers.
The farm managers have an agreement with the local council to invest in anaerobic digestion systems.
ActionCarbone: Solar cookers, Bolivia
This project distributes solar cookers in four regions of western Bolivia. These cookers meet the needs of 2000 families, removing their reliance on fossil fuels for their cooking needs. The project is registered with Gold Standard (international label guaranteeing the quality of carbon offsetting projects.
Climat Mundi: Energy saving and renewable energies:
- Energy efficient ovens in Eritrea. This project is replacing old-fashioned ovens with energy-efficient ones, specifically in poor communities, thereby increasing living standards and preventing the desertification caused by deforestation.
- Biomass energy in India. This project focuses on producing electricity from agricultural waste in a region of the country which suffers from frequent power cuts. Local farmers can supplement their income by exploiting this waste, and jobs are created in the process.
- Wind farms in China. With this project, clean, renewable wind electricity will replace the current network of CO2-producing power stations.
Planète Urgence: Reforestation
Reforestation is taking place in Indonesia, in the Deli Serdang district (Sumatra Utara province) and in Banda Aceh (Aceh province). Gymglish has financed the planting of 540 trees, which with five years' growth will compensate for 15 tonnes of CO2. We should bear in mind that reforestation programs come with their own complications. The local geography, economy, and social situation must always be considered carefully: it's not as simple as plating as many trees as possible!
At the moment, we are limiting the carbon neutral project to the internal operations and activities of Gymglish. This means that, for example, we do not take into account the energy consumed by our customers' computers while they complete their Gymglish lessons.
Recycling on a daily basis
In our offices, we practise the simple but effective policies of waste-sorting, recycling, and paper re-use. In addition to the refuse sorting system in place in Paris, we make concerted efforts to reduce the amount of rubbish we create on a daily basis. An example of this is that we re-use all paper which has been printed on only one side, making use of the blank side in a special 'used-paper' printer: very useful for documents which will only be used in the office. Additionally, almost all correspondence we have with clients and suppliers takes place via e-mail (bills, orders, etc.). Not only does this increase productivity, but it also results in much less paper being used. Our server host, Rackspace, has also put in place some measures to limit its own environmental impact. And finally, we only use energy efficient light bulbs.
GreenGlish alone is not going to solve the problems of climate change and pollution. This is just a starting point for a much-needed revolution in industrial and commercial practices, helped by an ever-growing range of technological solutions and alternative methods. We just want to contribute as much as we can to the environmental cause. We want our young company to get into good habits which, in the future, will allow us to find the right balance between growth and protection of the environment.
Gymglish Operations Manager