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ACEVO’s environmental commitments: an update

Last year, we published our internal environmental commitments, which you can read here. We promised updates in a few areas. In this blog, we outline how things have been going and how things have changed, primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The instant changes in working that the pandemic necessitated have brought certain things in more quickly than we expected and changed the way we plan to work in the future.

A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page

This blog provides an update on our internal policies, but we are also beginning to strengthen our member offer in the climate and sustainability space. We have opened applications for our climate member working group, a space where members from environmental and non-environmental organisations can inform and steer decisions around ACEVO’s member services on climate justice. You can find out more about how to apply and the full terms of reference for the working group here.

Home working

In our internal commitments, we spoke about reducing our travel carbon footprint by using trains not planes, and working from home where possible. The pandemic meant that much of this happened overnight. The team stopped working face-to-face and stopped travelling into the office; all our meetings, including board meetings, moved to Zoom. We are considering what will work best for ACEVO in the future in terms of reviewing our office base and how we work as a team. In the meantime, we will continue to make use of digital meetings and support trustees to dial into board meetings whenever they need or wish to. When we do start travelling again, we will endeavour to use trains instead of planes.

The need for home working caused by Covid-19 will have reduced our carbon footprint in terms of staff travel, but we know that working from home produces other emissions such as increased household electricity and heating emissions. Since 2019 ACEVO has offset one tonne of carbon per month via the Gold Standard Community Projects to cover some of our emissions. However, our footprint measurements have previously been done internally rather than by someone independent. Over this year and depending on the developments of the pandemic, our climate crisis staff group will be exploring whether our footprint should be measured by someone externally, and how to support staff to work in environmentally-friendly ways while they are home-based. We hope to make any guides for staff available to members as templates for their own organisations.

Digital events and reducing paper

At the start of the pandemic, we shifted our entire events calendar to digital provision. This meant that members were not travelling long distances to attend events, and despite the challenges of the pandemic engagement and attendance has improved. Although there are certain elements of face-to-face networking which we still think are very valuable, we have been able to replicate some of this by launching our online Community, where members can ask each other questions and share ideas or resources. If you haven’t yet joined the Community, you can do so here.

ACEVO will continue to provide a combination of digital and face-to-face services. We hope this will allow more of our members to attend events across the country, as well as restoring some of the contact between individuals which makes the ACEVO network so unique. Of course, this will also reduce the carbon footprint of our events, as fewer people will be travelling to them.

ACEVO committed to reducing our printing levels by 40-50% by January 2020, and staff significantly cut back on what was printed. Our pattern of events means that our printing in the third quarter (October-December) is very high, due to holding our annual conference at that time. In Q3 last year, we printed a total of 10,385 sheets. Between January and 19 February 2020, we printed a total of 4015 sheets. This reduction does partly reflect our seasonal printing patterns, but also a commitment from staff to reduce what they print in the office.

Due to running digital events, we have stopped printing agendas, delegate lists and other event information. Our annual conference will be digital so we won’t do the large amount of printing we normally would – book now to join us at #ACEVOFest. When face-to-face events resume, we will send documents in advance digitally instead of printing them, and we will now only be printing for essential finance and legal needs on recycled paper.

Catering

When events resume, we will trial meat-free options and ask caterers to avoid plastic packaging. We will seek member views on whether this works for them.

In the office we had moved to Clipper teabags to ensure waste could be effectively composted; however, we know that since moving to home working, many staff members do not have composting facilities and cannot make the most of this. Our home working guide for staff will explore some of the issues around waste collection, recycling, energy efficiency and more; if you have ideas about specific areas to include that would help your teams, get in touch with me on Maisie.hulbert@acevo.org.uk.

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

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