How one start-up is helping small businesses find ways to reduce their carbon footprint

Businesses with a large carbon footprint are also likely to hire staff to monitor emissions, but what about small businesses that make up 99% of U.S. employer firms and who, in many cases, don't have the time or resources to implement a climate initiative?

"What most businesses do is just kind of sit and worry about it," said Alex Lassiter, founder of Green Places.

The North Carolina-based start-up calculates a company's carbon footprint with the goal of giving small to medium businesses a way to fight climate change.

"There has to be a solution that's accessible and attainable for any business to be able to participate in climate action," he said.

Partnering with UC Berkeley's Cool Climate Project, Green Places offers business a free online survey to assess environmental impact in minutes. A follow-up call suggests sustainability practices to implement or reaffirms changes already made that are good for the planet - like with Glendale law firm Glauber, Berenson and Vego.

"It never occurred to me that not having phones on people's desks reduces the footprint," said attorney Russ Glauber.

Glauber made some other changes to reduce the business' carbon footprint, including downsizing his office space during the pandemic, installing automated lighting and sharing offices when schedules don't overlap. Opting to scan documents instead of printing them and allowing for more remote work are also actions that benefit the planet and the workforce.

Glauber says he sees the benefits of having employees work from home rather than spending four hours a day in the car commuting.

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Green Places then offers clients a chance to pool funds with others to purchase carbon credits in volume for maximum impact.

Glauber is now considering an investment in a project, suggested by Green Places, to protect forests in Alaska.

At Fish King in Glendale, lowering their carbon footprint and showing they are a sustainable business also matters to their customers.

"I'm not so certain that you want to prioritize everything based on whether you get a cost or a return on your investment," said Jon Kagawa. (It's) more about what's the right thing to do. And eventually I believe that's what the customers will start to notice is that you're doing it for the right reason, not strictly based upon the financial rewards of the organization."

Green Places claims to have made 30 companies carbon neutral since June, offsetting nearly 25,000 tons in carbon emissions by working together.

"Every snowflake in an avalanche doesn't think it's their fault, right? So this has to be something that we all participate in, whether you're the smallest business on the block or the largest," Lassiter said. "We all have to change the way that we think and we all have to participate."

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