If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that we humans have a massive impact on our planet…and not for the better. Since lockdown ensued, Venice's canals are crystal clear, we've seen an enormous decrease in air pollution (25% across China during the outbreak), and there's been an influx of wild animal sitings across towns and cities around the globe.
With so many of us trying to look for the ‘silver lining' amidst this tragic pandemic, more and more of us want to build on this momentum, and do our bit to protect the planet – businesses included.
But, where enterprises are concerned, not only is sustainability an ethical consideration – it's also a wise business choice. After all, an increasing number of consumers, especially among younger generations, are loyal to companies that do their bit for the environment.
If you're reading this and you're an entrepreneur, you might be wondering how you incorporate sustainability into your business model.
Well, if you're a Shopify store owner, the answer is simple: you can download and use the Offset app.
Never heard of it before? Don't worry; in this review, we'll take a look at how Offset can help you build a more environmentally friendly business.
Let's dive in!
What Can Offset Help You With?
As you probably know, transporting products from a company's warehouse to our doorsteps demands the burning of fossil fuels. Urgh.
These carbon emissions trap heat inside of the Earth's atmosphere, which, in turn, leads to climate change.
The bottom line: Every business transporting goods from A to B…requiring the burning of fossil fuels, adversely impacts the environment.
But, don't worry; it's not all doom and gloom.
The Offset Shopify app makes it possible for you to proudly tell customers you're making an effort to protect the environment.
By neutralizing your shipping emissions.
How Does Offset Work?
Offset calculates the total amount of carbon emissions you generate when you transport your merchandise. They use this number to calculate your ‘monthly Offset cost.'
You can then spend your allocated ‘monthly offset cost' on initiatives that support sustainability and protect the environment – most notably, reforestation.
This may sound costly – but never fear. The amount put aside to fund your ‘monthly offset cost' is just a few cents per customer order.
The Offset app partners with a company called Pachama. They connect with a variety of certified projects that comply with the best possible carbon offset protocols and standards.
You can measure your business's impact on the environment from your Offset dashboard. Here you'll see your total shipping emissions and how much of them you've neutralized. This may include how many trees you've paid to protect.
Offset's Easy-to-Use Dashboard
This Shopify app is intuitive and easy to use, with sleek and simple UI design. Here you'll find an estimation based calculator where you can type in your orders per month, and it will average the metric tons of CO2 and the predicted cost of neutralizing it.
As we've already said, Offset aims to neutralize your shipping emissions in their entirety, and therefore rounds up values inside of their data model. The app integrates info from your online store with industry data to determine how much CO2 your shipments release.
Pachama then calculates the cost of offsetting these emissions, while considering the following factors:
- The weight of the package/or an average shipment weight if this info isn't available.
- Distance (This is the straight-line distance between your warehouse and the delivery destination, multiplied by an uncertainty factor to account for delays).
- Transportation Type: i.e., truck or plane carbon emissions, calculated from speed and distance. Truck emissions are assumed if this information isn't available.
The more tracking data your carrier supplies, the more accurately Offset can calculate the emissions used. Otherwise, Offset multiplies estimated emissions by 1.5 to ensure all your emissions are offset.
Feel Part of a Collective Effort
One of the beautiful things about Offset is that you're part of something bigger than yourself. Offset is proud of the collective impact their Shopify merchants have on the world, and they're keen to let you know about it!
In fact, since their recent partnership with Pachama, 57 million kilograms of CO2 have been offset, and nearly 5,000 square kilometers of forest have been protected. Best of all, this was achieved just a month after the partnership launched…just think about the effects years down the line!
What Does Offset Cost?
Installing the Offset App is entirely free. Afterward, you pay $3.50 per metric tonne of estimated C02 emissions your shipping generates. Typically, this amounts to about $0.005 or £0.10 per order.
When you install Offset, the app first calculates a monthly estimation of your Offset costs based on data from your store. You're charged an offset fee for the emissions on your Shopify invoice for every order considered ‘delivered’ within the last 30 days.
However, you're not charged if the item is restocked or canceled within 20 days. If you use ShopPay with your Shopify account, your delivery emissions are offset automatically, and Shopify will cover the offset cost. These orders won’t generate a charge through Offset. Should your offset cost in the last 30 days be less than $0.01, the charge is rounded up to that number.
Pachama’s Role in Forest Protection
Anyone that owns forested land might be tempted to use the hectarage for other purposes. For instance, they might decide to harvest timber, fell the trees to make space for construction projects, use the land for farming, create a recreational ground, etc. These are just a few of the many reasons why we see a spike in deforestation.
But deforestation is a big issue all around the world – notably, the Amazon which has lost around 17% of its forest over the last 50 years.
This is where Offset comes into play. They give landowners a financial incentive to keep their forests intact. How? By paying them to protect their trees as they are.
But although many companies are more than willing to pay extra to neutralize their carbon emissions, the challenge of estimating the carbon-storing value of a particular piece of forest still remains.
Verification companies do this by hiking into the woods and calculating the width and height of each tree. They also (manually) count the trees in each plot. This is a slow, pain-staking process that often holds back forest protection efforts.
The willingness is there. The tools are not.
This is where Pachama‘s partnership with the Offset app is worth its weight in gold. They've successfully harnessed the power of technology to overcome this issue. As we've already alluded to, Pachama has created a technology-verified marketplace for companies that offset carbon emissions using forest-based programs.
They utilize machine learning that analyzes info from satellites, drones, and lidar images. With this data at their disposal, they can calculate the size and volume of trees. That's as well as accurately estimating how much carbon is stored inside of each tree.
Pachama’s methodology acts on the belief that photosynthesis and reforestation can remove carbon from the atmosphere and counteract climate change. By installing the Offset App, you can support their efforts and protect forested areas.
Pachama allows anyone to purchase carbon credits and buy any amount of forest. Shopify’s Offset app is just a convenient way for entrepreneurs to do this, and communicate your mission to your followers – two birds, one stone.
The Benefits of Demonstrating Sustainability
It goes without saying, protecting the environment is a great cause, but you might be wondering, ‘how does it benefit my business?’
After all, there's a small associated cost, so it's smart to think about how offsetting your carbon emissions will benefit you as a Shopify store owner.
The main perks are as follows:
- Improve your brand's value and reputation. Your company's reputation is a valuable asset when it comes to engaging customers and building brand loyalty. Needless to say, demonstrating that you're doing your part to save the planet is bound to win you some brownie points with customers!
- Meet consumer demand. Sustainability is a mainstream issue, and these days, most companies are expected to bring something to the table. So, don't trail behind – meet consumers where they're at by offering an ethical alternative in your brand.
- Staff retention and attraction. When it comes to retaining and attracting high-quality staff (especially Gen Z'ers and Millenials), you'll find that an increasing number of them want to work for sustainable companies. Again, this is just another reason why it's worth your while to up your ‘green initiative‘ game.
Ready to Start Using the Offset App?
Having read this review, it's clear to see the Offset app is a simple way your business can have a positive impact on the environment – with next-to-no effort necessary on your behalf.
There's no initial financial investment – you only pay a tiny amount on every customer order placed. It's never been easier to neutralize your carbon emissions and invest in reforestation projects all around the world.
So, are you ready to do your bit to combat climate change? Let us know below what your business is doing to contribute. Speak soon!