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We need to do more for Mother Earth

As a responsible company, we cannot celebrate Mother Earth without reflecting on all we still have to do. How can we improve our business model and reduce our environmental impact further?
Continue Reading We need to do more for Mother Earth

We need to do more for Mother Earth

22nd April 2024
By Rosa Matos
Stone Soup Founding Partner and Policies and Practices Director

As a responsible and transparent company, we must say it very openly: we know that what we have been doing for Mother Earth just isn’t enough. We believe we are going in the right direction, as stated in our last Honesty Report, but we humbly admit: we are as proud of our cautious choices throughout our more than 15 years as we are worried about the negative environmental impact we struggle to avoid and the actions we still haven’t been able to put into practice to reduce it further.


Our consultancy work has its environmental costs

It is true to say, and important to highlight: the idea of having the minimum possible impact on the environment has been at the core of who we are since the beginning.
Stone Soup was created in 2008 as an international community of professionals working mostly remotely also with the idea of having a low environmental footprint. We believe an online model is one of the most effective ways of reducing our footprint. This was recognised also through the certification as a B Corporation in 2016, and we then agreed we should go a step forward on our commitment to reaching carbon neutrality by 2030.

However, if we look at carbon emissions, specifically, there are emissions we really struggle to reduce. It is a fact we cannot deny. Even though we have agreed, as part of our commitment with the environment, to reduce our energy consumption and travelling, our consultancy model depends on the electricity our computers consume and it has been hard to cut further on travels, which, in fact, have been increasing in the post COVID-19 pandemic. Along with that, as we have been growing steadily over the past years, working with more consultants and on more projects spread around the globe, this means more energy use, more online meetings, and more traveling. Of course, our strategic decisions and choice of projects are guided by our strong ethics, our commitment to decrease our potential environmental impact and our preference to work with organisations committed to generate a positive impact on people and the planet, and we are lucky to be assisting more projects linked to the environment. But, putting it simply: no matter how virtuous our compasses are, every consultancy project comes with its environmental cost.

Let us celebrate by reflecting on all we still have to do

Knowing where we are, in terms of our environmental impact journey (very humbly at the beginning of our effort towards the (ideal) net zero on carbon emissions), and the undeniable fact that our Mother Earth is in danger, does not let us celebrate International Mother Earth Day without reflecting on the many things we still have to do and need to correct.

We know Nature is suffering. It is a fact we have not doubts about either. Scientists, international institutions and the media offer us evidence and compelling stories of that on a daily basis. Oceans are becoming more acidic, extreme heat is more frequent, wildfires and floods are affecting millions of people. The destabilization and destruction of our planet is increasing due to climate change, man-made changes to Nature and biodiversity disruption, such as deforestation, intensive agriculture and livestock production, and illegal wildlife trade.

We also understand how much our common future depends on the health of our ecosystems. The planet ecosystems – such as the tropical rainforest, grasslands, temperate and boreal forests, deserts, and marine and freshwater ecosystems, just to mention a few – support all life on Earth. The healthier our ecosystems are, the healthier the planet and its people. Ecosystems provide services to help keep the world functioning without disruption, but all around the world ecosystems are greatly threatened, loosing balance and no longer being able to support its essential species. Restoring damaged ecosystems is also urgent if we want to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent mass extinction.

Are we answering Mother Earth’s call to action?

As a consultancy firm, we ask ourselves how can we answer Mother Earth’s call to action to restore our damaged ecosystems. How can we make a more meaningful contribution to a sustainable economy that works for both the people and the planet? We already operate under a business model that has a low environmental footprint, but are we doing all we should be doing? Is it enough if, for instance (as we are actually managing to do), we bring our consumption of paper and plastic materials and our production of waste to almost zero? Or if we seek to apply the best practices in the use of any electrical appliances, especially our computers, to reduce energy consumption (although our community members self-assess that we all need to do more to save energy!)?

We know all of this is not enough, although we also believe all small or big steps count. That is why we make our best effort to incorporate sustainable practices into our proposals and support to our clients (in methodologies, processes, products and recommendations), and we seek to promote the ideas of sustainability and environmental protection through our publications and educational initiatives. And because we know our portfolio must be coherent with our environmental commitments and we want to minimise risks of climate washing, we are currently developing further our selection criteria of clients and business development opportunities.

The next steps

At Stone Soup, we have been obsessed with increasing our own awareness and shared understanding of our environmental footprint, and we are especially checking on every opportunity to cut on travels, especially from Europe, and work with more local consultants worldwide. We also bear well in mind our commitment to work towards net-zero emissions by 2030. That is why we have started developing our approach to greenhouse gas accounting and reporting, and we are working on a customised GHG emissions accounting tool, with the expert support of Stravillia | Sustainability Hub, to equip Stone Soup with the necessary know-how. We are happy to be finally working on our first carbon emissions report, which will offer us a clear picture of how much carbon we emit annually. This will help us better target our reduction effort (most probably around our energy consumption and travelling), and to look for the wisest available way to compensate for the emissions we cannot avoid. More than that, we expect this effort will lead us to make a more direct contribution to protecting and restoring our planetary ecosystems.

We know all of this just isn’t enough. There is still a lot to do, and we will face some challenges. To start with: as part of our initial steps in measuring our carbon emissions, we realised we needed to implement a saving scheme for future compensation of our carbon emissions, and we have started integrating this future cost in our financial model, to get ready to compensate for our unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions. Even though we know this is a big step for Stone Soup, and possibly for a company of our size and sector, we are firmly committed to keep on exploring this and other ways to accelerate our journey to reduce our environmental footprint and improve our environmental performance. 

We would love to hear your feedback and learn from your own journey!

One thought on “We need to do more for Mother Earth

  1. Obrigada Rosa Matos pelo trabalho que têm feito e por este texto!
    A minha jornada pela preservação do Planeta é:
    -individual (passei a andar de autocarro diariamente; nas compras de alimentos ou vestuário que compro ou não compro)
    -familiar (lá em casa aderimos à iniciativa do município na seiaração de resíduos para a compostagem). Procuramos reduzir consumo de água e energia.
    -comunitário (promovo sempre que possível partilha de trajectos de carro)
    -social (no meu local de trabalho, fazendo formação específica em sustentabilidade para poder implementar na empresa)
    Tudo isto é muito pouco, mas é um começo. O que falta fazer é a maior motivação para continuar, porque a minha parte, o meu contributo depende de mim.

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