Dojo4 considers environmentally intelligent practices to be an organizational priority. Simply because we are in the business of virtual production does not mean that our impact on the environment is only a virtual reality. We recognize that the manufacturing of computer equipment is currently a toxic and resource-heavy industry, and also that data centers are one of the biggest power users today.
According Greenpeace’s most recent Click Clean Report (2017), “The energy footprint of the IT sector is already estimated to consume approximately 7% of global electricity. With an anticipated threefold increase in global internet traffic by 2020, the internet’s energy footprint is expected to rise further, fueled both by our individual consumption of data and by the spread of the digital age to more of the world’s population, from 3 billion to over 4 billion globally.”
Dojo4 is committed to being aware of the extent of our environmental impact, and to mitigating it in every way possible, both through how we run our business here in Boulder, Colorado and how we advocate for industry-wide eco-friendly changes.
So what can businesses like ours – or any entity, be it a non-profit, a not-just-for-profit, or a household – actually do to make a difference?
A Note on Home Offices
_While Dojo4 is open on a quarantine-friendly schedule to its members this year, we recognize that more and more people are using their home offices. Dojo4 encourages its members and community to take these principles home with them; all of these tools and practices can be applied to a home/family just as readily as an office. _
On the energy side of things, Boulder is lucky to have a former client, Fuel Switch, which exists to help people fully transition their homes off of fossil fuels. Our City/County run a similar program, called Energy Smart. The water, waste, and procurement resources listed in this policy can be applied at home.
Educate yourself about what impacts that each of your business activities has on our planet. Purchasing decisions. Travel and commuting. Data usage. Energy usage. Waste. Water.
If you are in the tech sector, or your website is a big part of your business operations – heck, if you stream Netflix before bed at night – you should be reading Greenpeace’s Click Clean reports (and participating in their consumer advocacy campaigns).
Whatever your business model, start by finding your own greenhouse gas emissions baseline. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are scopes, there are offsets, there are renewable energy credits (RECs). But there are also great tools and resources to help you figure it out:
This is a pretty tangible one – after all you can see a leaky faucet or a hose left running in the garden bed – but you might not be aware of just how much more efficient these new fangled low-flow toilets, high-efficiency dishwashers and in sink aerators can save. Many cities have programs designed to help you swap out inefficient older models. In Boulder, we are lucky to have access to many free or low-cost conservation services including:
Did you know that 90% of what goes into Boulder’s landfill is recyclable or compostable? Boulder has an ambitious and comprehensive Zero Waste Strategic Plan with tons of resources to help your business (and your home) do its part. We now also have a “Universal Waste Ordinance” that makes compliance non-voluntary, so get on board!
Additional resources – more than you ever wanted to know about what you can (and can’t) divert from the landfill – is available through Eco-Cycle, an award winning zero waste nonprofit that’s been operating in Boulder for 40 years.
Both Eco-Cycle and PACE Boulder County will come to your office and perform waste analyses wherein they literally dig through your trash, measure your diversion rate, and advise you on how to improve it.
Now that you understand the factors that contribute to your baseline, or current, impact on the environment through both your inputs (resources, energy, water) and your outputs (waste), you can set reduction targets and take steps to mitigate your impact in each area.
First, you need to reduce your actual energy usage through energy conservation measures (ECMs). This is something that Dojo4 has done at our own offices, through switching to LED lighting with motion detectors, and more fuel efficient appliances.
Once you’ve gone electric and replaced those old gas-burning (air-polluting) appliances, you can then switch to renewable power sources for those electric appliances. In Boulder you have the option of installing solar directly, or paying a little extra to have Xcel Energy cover your usage via WindSource. Even if you don’t own your home or office, there are some exciting new options here like buying into a “community powered” solar garden like Jack’s Solar Garden.
Dojo4 team members are encouraged to remain in close touch with each other, clients, and colleagues virtually or locally, but to avoid air travel and unnecessary car trips whenever possible. There are a growing number of offset options available, and if a work trip can’t be avoided, Dojo4 will pay to offset the travel.
While we generally drink beer to save water, Dojo4 has also found other ways to cut its consumption by more than half – such as installing low flow faucets and replacing our toilets. If gardening is a part of your organization, xeriscaped and native plants, soaker hoses or drip irrigation, and now rainwater collection! In Boulder, both PACE and the Center for Resource Conservation’s Slow The Flow programs will provide free water conservation assessments for your business to advise you on any improvements you can make, and any rebates that might be available for doing so.
Raise awareness among your entire team about how precious water is. Reminders of simple things like not running the water while you brush your teeth, letting the yellow mellow, and not running a half-empty dishwasher load are always worthwhile.
A certain amount of water usage cannot, of course, be avoided. After all, #waterislife. In order to give back, or offset, the water usage we can’t avoid, Dojo4 is a big fan of Water Restoration Certificates. The leading provider that we have found is the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, which offers both a nationwide stream restoration program and one focused on the Colorado River Basin.
Take stock of your office and see if there are any disposable products – even compostables – that you can replace with reusable options. For example, mugs, silverware, dishes, etc. Wondering where to buy the most eco-friendly models? First stop: thrift shop! Reusing is best. After that, consult the Good Guide, or any other such resource on responsible consumerism.
In terms of electronics – which are of course indispensable in our line of work – consider buying the best and only buying from companies that have seriously invested in mitigating the harmful and toxic components of electronics manufacturing. We use Apple Products - they have life cycle assessments available online including reports on the toxicity of their components, resources used in production, etc. and they also provide proper, free recycling of all their products.
With curbside composting included in every waste pickup contract around town, there is no reason not to compost. It might mean you have to take the compost out more often to avoid stinking up the joint, but we have found that we have to take the compost out more often because it’s always full. Especially in an office setting, where events and regular eating out takes place, compostable dishware, food scraps and paper products make up a surprising amount of Dojo4’s waste.
If you’re like us, you’re probably not recycling nearly as much as you could be. Take the time to get to know what goes in and what stays out. Remember, _90% of what goes into our landfill could be recycled or composted instead. _This information can be fodder for a great team trivia game.
Even a small tech shop like Dojo4 does produce some hazardous waste. All those gadgets we love contain some toxic materials, so they should never be thrown in the trash. Similarly, CF bulbs, batteries, paint, certain cleaning products and many other “household” chemicals qualify as hazardous and should be kept out of our wastewater and landfills.
Here is a complete list of what the Hazardous Materials Management Facility will accept. For small organizations, note that HMMF has separate standards for “businesses”, but they consider businesses to be regular producers of toxic waste, such as auto-body shops. For a small office like Dojo4, we produce waste much more like a household, so you’ll make your life a lot easier by just sending someone with your few batteries and old CF bulbs as though they’re from your home.
For non-toxic but hard to recycle materials, here is a guide for what the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) will accept, which covers everything from scrap metal (got an old microwave sitting around?) to yoga mats and bike parts.
View from the toilet seat in the cosy Dojo4 bathroom.
Protips for Boulderites:
Both CHaRM and the HMMF have odd hours, so be sure to check before driving out there to drop off items. Meanwhile, some of our beloved local businesses offer services that will save you a trip out to CHaRM/HMMF: Vitamin Cottage has a free plastic bag collection bin, and McGuckin’s will take your dead batteries if you find a green vest wearer in the electronics section, and Guiry’s accepts used/old paint (free of charge), which they will dispose of properly for you.
The rest of it goes in the landfill, and that is not a pretty picture. If you need some inspiration to make the extra effort to go zero waste, take your team and go about 15 minutes south of town and visit our local landfill so it doesn’t remain out of sight and out of mind.
Everyone loves to be cool, so we have made a point of making earth friendly business practices super cool. You can start by influencing your own team; encouraging them to take best practices for the earth that you’re investing time and money in at the office, and bringing them home. Many of us in the tech industry have flexible work situations and home offices. Share your environmental policy and procurement standards with them and ask everyone to do their part at home as well.
There is strength in numbers, so it really matters to join local movements and share resources, successes and goals. In Boulder this could include becoming part of PACE, Eco-Cycle’s Greenstar Businesses, Zero Waste Boulder, the Center for Resource Conservation, and the Colorado Certified B Corp community.
Dojo4 also shares resources by open sourcing our policies – posting them on Github, our blog, Twitter, the B Hive, etc. – and by actively alerting other business owners in our community as to what we are doing to mitigate our environmental impact, and offering them resources to do the same.
One of the most powerful ways that we can exercise our principles in today’s world is with our dollar. This means both choosing vendors and suppliers that share our social and environmental values, as well as using our status as customers to pressure other businesses to improve their impact, when necessary.
As a Certified B Corporation, we know what good business practices look like, and we can thus be very discerning consumers, leveraging every decision and every dollar to expand our positive on the world. We use the following criteria to select our suppliers and vendors:
Third Party Standards Verifications – we prefer to purchase from other Certified B Corps, or businesses that have qualified for other relevant certifications (organic, fair trade, GMO-free, Forest Stewardship Council certified, etc.
Local – the benefits of supporting local businesses are numerous, both socially and environmentally. As a Downtown Boulder business, Dojo4 tries to purchase many of our products from businesses within walking distance of us, or at least local, independent businesses.
Women and Minority Ownership – As a business co-founded by women, we prioritize purchasing from other women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
Shared Values – Sometimes the best product is provided by a business that doesn’t meet the above criteria, but still shares many of our values. Some of our providers – especially in the software industry – are neither local nor minority-owned, but we still make every effort to select the ones that have the strongest pro-environment stance (such as industry leaders Amazon, Apple and Alphabet).
Values-based product procurement in an ever-evolving market is complex, and there are many organizations out there who make it their business to know which products are the best for the earth, best for our communities, best for workers, etc. Here are just a few resources we rely on: