The requirement for greater environmental responsibility pervades throughout all our lives - be that individually, culturally, in businesses or at political / policy level. But there are no quick wins or easy answers and it's a truly intersectional issue. It's not just about the climate emergency, it's also about wider environmental impacts like plastic waste.
That’s why creative agency Recipe has enlisted the help of Treepoints - a social enterprise helping everyday people live planet positive.
“At Recipe, we have been exploring ways to offer better, more climate and environmentally conscious solutions for our clients for a while now,” says Recipe MD Ali Morgan, “but the challenge we had was that there are many parts of that 'supply chain' we don't have as much control over.”
“While we have done many things to reduce impact on the environment, it became apparent that right now, there would be limits to how far we could go - particularly with a view to achieving a 'net zero' or even 'net positive' goal. Offsetting isn't a silver bullet. And can often be misused as a form of diverting responsibility or ‘greenwashing’. And rather ironically there are offsetting solutions which are actually worse for the environment over the long term. With Treepoints, we felt we found a partner that would enable us to balance our environmental impacts in a transparent, responsible and considered way.”
“The reality is that this should be important to everyone and every business,” Ali stresses, “and that means putting in the time to think carefully about what you do, how you do it, where and how you impact on the environment and where and how you can make tangible changes - however small they may feel.”
In this interview, we hear from Treepoints CEO and co-founder Anthony Collias, who sheds light on what the company has been doing to help create more transparency and clarity surrounding the climate crisis to help more people better understand the threat and feel empowered to fight for positive change.
LBB> You founded Treepoints (along with your partner Jacob Wedderburn-Day) as an easy and effective way to make a meaningful difference. Can you tell us what that entails?
Anthony> As individuals, we have long been worried about the impact of the climate crisis on our planet. During the pandemic, things fell quiet at Stasher, our travel tech company that connects travellers with an international luggage storage network. We decided that rather than waiting for the world to go back to normal, this was the perfect time to direct our energies towards doing something about climate change.
To avoid the worst effects of climate change, science tells us that we must limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. We have already reached 1.1 degrees of global warming. We could reach 1.5 by 2030. We need urgent action.
From speaking to friends and family, we understood that lots of people are increasingly concerned about the climate crisis, but that knowing how to actually do something meaningful about it is a daunting prospect.
How can you be sure that your money is making a positive difference? As just one person, what can you really do?
These questions came up time and time again, and from this, the idea for Treepoints was born.
LBB> What is your mission?
Anthony> We want climate action to be accessible to everyone, no matter how big or small the contribution is. Treepoints simplifies climate action by helping people and businesses to understand their impact on the environment and then do something about it by offsetting their carbon footprint. We take the headache out of offsetting and reward people for doing good for the planet. We also provide a simple integration for businesses to make their products and services climate positive through carbon offsetting and tree planting.
LBB> How does the process work?
Anthony> Treepoints directly reduces greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits on behalf of individuals and businesses to offset their carbon emissions. We encourage everyone that we work with to offset more than their total emissions so that they are having a net positive impact. We incentivise emissions reductions by making offsetting simple and affordable for individuals and businesses. We then keep a record of total carbon offset and trees planted on our public ledger, making our impact visible for all.
We also plant trees with our business subscription, Public Shopify App and API integration, contributing to environmental restoration. We don’t include tree planting in our carbon offsetting totals because of the difficulties around exact quantification, but this doesn’t mean these trees aren’t still pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. We will soon be adding tree planting to our individual subscriptions and offering plastic collection to all of our members, another way of protecting our environment. You can select different levels of subscription depending on your business activities like flying.
LBB> How do you help businesses understand the difference they are making?
Anthony> We believe that our partners should understand the impact of the action that they are taking and the part it should play in their wider sustainable business agenda. Therefore, we have an open dialogue with partners and are always on hand to answer any queries. We have a public impact ledger where all of our tree, carbon and plastic purchases are kept up to date. We also have a handy blog page that aims to answer many questions, and if not, we will write up another post!
LBB> The topic of sustainability is huge and can seem overwhelming, what is the first step that businesses should take?
Anthony> Don’t be overwhelmed by terminology. There is a lot of it being thrown around and it can be very very confusing. We would recommend taking a look at your business and thinking about what you want to do to make it more sustainable. What are the baby steps to get there? Your business isn’t going to transform overnight, that’s not sustainable! Start by making small actions and build up. It is also important to have everyone on board, so make sure that your team also understands this journey and how they can be part of it.
Understanding your business’ carbon emissions sources is the first step to reducing/offsetting them.
LBB> Can you tell us about some small changes that companies can make today that would make a big difference?
Anthony> Encourage employees to commute on public transport/cycle. This is well illustrated by the numbers based on 2022 UK Gov Conversion Factors:
100 km in an average car = 17kgCO2e
100 km in a local bus = 9.7kgCO2e
100 km on a train = 3.5kgCO2e
100 km on a bike = 0kgCO2e!!!
LBB> What is your vision for Treepoints over the next year?
Anthony> We would like to help facilitate positive climate action for more and more companies! We have just submitted for B Corp status, which we should have confirmed within a year.
Our vision for Treepoints is to see it become the TrustPilot-equivalent stamp of sustainability. People know the brand and expect to see it on products, services, and companies. Individuals everywhere in the developed world understand what carbon offsetting means and offset their footprint with Treepoints. Our goal is to become a household name for sustainability, being the easiest subscription, API integration, Shopify App and tree planting service for individuals and businesses alike.
We will achieve this by continuing to add partners and members to our platform and investing in marketing to reach a wider potential audience, educating people about the importance of offsetting.
We also have ambitions to become a source of funding for green projects, able to finance carbon reduction schemes. As a social enterprise, we are committed to reinvesting at least 50% of our profits, and we hope to easily achieve profitability within the next five years to be able to start reinvesting in environmental projects, such as carbon capture technology. This will also enable us to have a greater level of personal contact with the projects that we are supporting.