Operations: Travel

Business Travel & Commuting

We would love it if we could meet with our customers and other important stakeholders without flying and driving all around the country. Not only would our carbon footprint be smaller, but our friends and family would probably appreciate seeing us more! Alas, face-to-face meetings are incredibly important in building relationships and achieving our business goals.

No Fly Zone

Last year we set a goal for each sales department staff to avoid at least one flight and instead meet via conference call, web meeting, or some other way that minimized emissions. We did not meet that goal, so we are again committing ourselves to this.

We are also upping the ante. Given how big a contributor flying is to our operational carbon footprint, we have set an additional goal: In 2015, we will decrease our total miles flown per $1,000 in sales by 5%, relative to 2014. This goal pertains to travel by all Eco-Patriots, not just sales staff. While we recognize that ultimately, absolute reductions are necessary for addressing climate change, given our growth mode and projected business activity, we are committing to a normalized goal at this time. We will reassess this goal in the future and determine if an absolute goal is appropriate.

To remind Eco-Patriots of our commitment to reducing air travel, we launched the Eco-Products No Fly Zone in 2014. How does one become a member of this prestigious club, you ask? By avoiding a flight without sacrificing business objectives. After the meeting has taken place via some low-carbon method, our business partners receive a certificate with the carbon avoided and a Skip the Trip luggage tag. We know not all air travel can be avoided, but we hope this tag will urge people to think twice before hopping on a plane. Initial feedback from our business partners has been very positive.

Don’t Supersize My Car

In 2014, we communicated that all Eco-Patriots are expected to rent compact or economy cars when on business travel, unless group or extensive highway travel is involved. Often, well-intentioned car rental companies offer a complimentary “upgrade” to a gas guzzler when smaller cars are not available. We don’t think that’s very cool, so we created business cards to convey this. Now, when a car rental company offers an SUV, Eco-Patriots can leave behind messages such as “Large vehicles suck. . . more fuel” along with a statement about our preference for fuel-efficient cars and contact info for our Sustainability Maven. We believe it is important for companies to know that their customers are committed to sustainability and prefer environmentally-minded products and services.

Vehicles: business use of personal cars + commuting

In addition to reducing emissions from flying and rented cars, we are also trying to be more thoughtful about business use of our personal cars. Strategically scheduling trips to minimize mileage and relying on conference calls and other technology solutions contributed to an overall reduction in reimbursed vehicle miles in 2014. We are hopeful this trend will endure in 2015 as we continue to remind employees about minimizing travel impacts.

When it comes to getting to and from the office every day for our headquarters-based staff, we offer a financial incentive for commuting via alternative transportation. If employees come to work by bicycle, bus, scooter, hybrid, carpool, or their own two feet for six days during a given ten work day pay period, they qualify for a little extra love in their paycheck. In 2014, we estimated that just under 9% of our commuting miles were done by some form other than people driving themselves. While this is an increase over 2013, when just under 8% of commuting miles were greener, we think we can do better. Especially since 2014 emissions from daily commuting (68 MT CO2e) was greater than emissions from reimbursed mileage (44 MT CO2e).

We recently provided the EcoPass as another company benefit to headquarters employees to encourage the use of bus and light rail. (See the Employees section of this report for more info.) We also plan on further reminding Eco-Patriots of the importance of alternative transportation in 2015 to reduce this aspect of our emissions.


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2014 Goals:

  • Achieve a net zero electricity HQUntil we get there, invest in high quality offsets to balance our emissions.
  • Increase HQ waste diversion to 90% by 2017.
  • Reduce HQ water consumption by 10% by 2017; restore the balance every year through high quality water restoration certificates.
  • New policy: Eco-Products employees will rent only economy or compact cars when local driving is involved. When highway or group travel is involved, employees may rent up to a midsize at their discretion.
  • Each sales department staff will hold at least one virtual meeting, which they would otherwise fly to.

2015 Goals:

  • Achieve a net zero electricity HQ. Until we get there, invest in high quality offsets to balance our emissions.
  • Increase HQ waste diversion to 90% by 2017.
  • Reduce HQ water consumption by 10% by 2017; restore the balance every year through high quality water restoration certificates.
  • Decrease our total miles flown per $1,000 of sales by 5% relative to 2014 travel
  • Each sales department staff will hold at least one virtual meeting, which they would otherwise fly to.