In January 2021, I conducted one of my regular ecological audits, because if there is one constant, it’s change. My goal has always been to be in carbon credit rather than just neutral. I actually prefer to use the terms ecologically neutral or ecologically in credit as it’s about more than just carbon, and I don’t want to just “offset” things. I want to actively be giving back to the world we live in.
I ecologically audit my personal life regularly and try to be as ecologically responsible as I can in it. Not everyone is in a position to do this, and I understand how privileged I am that I can. Over the years I’ve learned different ways of doing that, and I will share some of the others, but a starting point for me is over-offsetting my carbon emissions.
When I started Plot Bunnies, I wanted it to be ecologically in credit as well. It’s easy to forget that websites cause emissions, but when you think about it, there’s a whole lot of power and infrastructure behind them. As awareness has grown, many webhosting services (including our webhost, Dreamhost) have started publishing their “green” credentials along with their prices, bandwidth etc.
A useful tool I have found is https://websitecarbon.com which will calculate how “clean” your site is compared to the rest of the web, how much carbon is produced per page view, and the annual emissions, so you can work out what you need to offset (it also has suggestions on how to do this).
Back in January, I tested Plot Bunnies using this tool. There is always room for improvement, but we are off to a decent start: we are cleaner than 82% of pages, generate only 0.25g of CO2 per view, and are running on sustainable energy.
10,000 views per month would generate 30.58kg of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of boiling water for 4,144 cups of tea or driving 455km in an electric car, and would take 2 trees to absorb.
I am pretty happy with only 2 trees and 82% isn’t too shabby, but I am also looking for improvements already. Meanwhile, I rounded this 30.58kg of CO2 up to a metric ton to cover all the Plot Bunnies emissions to date and offset that. Even if website traffic explodes from here, that will still put us in credit many times over.
Going forward, as well as offsetting the general website emissions each year, I will also be planting a tree for every new post and page. Anyone writing a guest post will be invited to choose their tree. For me, this is a fundamental operating cost, just like domain names and hosting. Not everyone can afford to do this, but I can, so why would I not?
So, in January 2021, I established the official Plot Bunnies Forest at Tree Nation.
I have been using Tree Nation for years personally, and I really like how they offer a range of different trees to plant and projects to plant them in. The projects are also carefully chosen to be not just ecologically sound, but also take into account other factors such as social responsibility, which is equally important to me.
They also make it easy to calculate offsets, track your impact, and share your forest’s page publicly so others can also follow. I am a fan of trees, of Tree Nation, and of transparency, so a Plot Bunnies Tree Nation Forest to offset our emissions was a no-brainer.
To cover that first metric ton of CO2 I planted 50 baby mangroves (Rhizophora mucronata) in Madagascar, and 5 red silk cotton trees (Bombax ceiba) in Nepal. I also wanted a statement tree – something special, to be a mother tree to the Plot Bunnies forest. She is a Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta).
Kauri are not only awesome, but the planting will also be helping to restore vital habitat and create wildlife corridors for several endangered Australian species including my favourite prehistoric murderbird, the Southern cassowary (seriously, see a cassowary in the flesh and tell me they weren’t velociraptors in a previous life).
I will update regularly on the trees have been planted and the posts they match with. Since I made the decision to plant a tree for every post, I’ve added 2 more trees. A Pau-jacaré (Piptadenia gonoacanth, for “My sister, The siren”) and a Cedro-rosa (Cedrela fissilis, for this post), both in Brazil.
The Plot Bunnies Forest is now at 58 trees and growing. I look forward to watching it grow further.