2020 goes down in history as a pivotal year for most aspects of everyday life- the world seemed to grind to a halt as we faced uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. BKM’ers weren’t commuting into the office. We weren’t going to visit our friends and family. We weren’t getting on planes to travel to our vacation destinations. In fact, we weren’t doing much of anything.
But nature was.
We started seeing pictures of fish swimming in the Venice canals. There was a break in the smog over our most populous cities. Greenhouse gas emission was down, air and water quality was improving, and we began to see signs of ecological restoration.
So that got us thinking.
With BKM’s roots being in direct mail, it’s impossible to ignore the impact we have on our environment. As we mail more and more packages for our clients every year, it’s clear to us that we have a responsibility to ourselves and our community to offset any negative environmental impact we may be contributing to.
But we didn’t know how to do that.
What we did to understand our carbon footprint.
After many sleepless nights, an opportunity arose to partner with an innovation-focused Suffolk University MBA class, led by Professor Bari Bendell. We met with the students and outlined our goals:
- We want to understand carbon footprint and how we can make it better
- We want to set an example for other agencies and create best practices
- We want to act responsibly
- We want to sleep at night
The students broke into 9 different teams, and each tackled our problem from either a micro or macro level, and addressed another pertinent question as well. We made ourselves available for their questions, provided them with our information on our business, the business we do on behalf of our clients, and every little detail in between, from what type of cars we drive, to what type of lightbulbs are in our office.
After weeks of work, presentation night arrived. BKM met individually with the student teams (over Zoom, of course) to discuss their findings.
We learned a lot about how our 2019 footprint was calculated, and how to begin to do it ourselves. We learned about consumption, impact, and offsetting. We learned what is important and what steps we can take to help effect positive change. BKM’s internal Sustainability Taskforce was formed from these findings, and we approached 2021 with a mission to have our footprint be carbon neutral.
Through the first quarter of 2021, BKM’s physical office space has used about 12 metric tons of carbon. This includes hosting our servers, commuting into our office, having dedicated office space, and any other local travel we do on behalf of our clients.
As expected, our direct mail business had a larger impact. We looked at the total number of mail pieces sent, paper type and weight, distance traveled from the paper mills to the printing company and delivering the final marketing piece to the end consumer’s physical address. All in, our client program impact was 2,161 metric tons of carbon.
By purchasing 4 metric tons of carbon offsets, and making a reforesting contribution of 12,856 trees BKM has reduced its first-quarter carbon impact to net zero.
But that’s just the beginning for BKM.
As we continue to learn about our carbon footprint, ways we can reduce it, and how to positively impact our planet and community, we have committed to becoming net zero in carbon use.
There’s no possible way any business or household can operate without emitting greenhouse gases.
But here’s what we can do:
- Find ways to reduce our emissions over time
- Use offsets to mitigate the impact of our emissions today
A special thank you to Professor Bendell and her students for the information and education we received. We are immensely grateful for their valuable insights, tips, tools, and recommendations.