It is hard to go a day without hearing about climate change, but there isn’t much discussion about what small businesses can do about it. You will be surprised how easy it is to go carbon neutral and if enough small businesses do, we can make a difference.

Step One: Determine your studio’s carbon footprint.  While this can be a complicated question, for a quick estimate, check out the online carbon footprint calculator at www.coolcalifornia.org.  To fine tune this estimate, you can include:

  • Studio Energy Use (gather your electric, gas and oil bills for one year)
  • Student/employee transportation (survey employees and a sampling of students to determine: (a) how far they travel to get to studio; and (b) how they travel — walk, bike, public transportation, carpool or car)
  • Miscellaneous impacts (travel to conferences and retreats, waste disposal, printing, direct mail etc.)
  • Products sold in studio. If you purchase products from carbon neutral suppliers, this is easy because there are no emissions. If not, online calculators provide reasonable estimates — so don’t let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Step Two: Reduce your footprint.  First, change your electric to renewable resources – solar, wind, hydro, or geothermal. For most studios, this is the largest source of carbon emissions and also the easiest to eliminate. Renewables may be slightly more expensive, but not as much as you would think.  These renewable resources are now available in many places so start with your electric company or go to www.green-e.org to find a green energy supplier in your area or purchase Renewable Energy Certificates from an organization such as www.terrapass.com.  Lower thermostats in the winter and raise them in the summer — some hot studios simply open their windows on hot days rather than heat their studios— put up a ride board to encourage students to carpool to class — and build community— set up bike racks outside your studio to encourage students and employees to bike in and of course buy carbon neutral and local or US made products. Once you take the above steps to reduce your studio’s carbon footprint, reevaluate your impact. With the simple conversion to renewable energy you may find that you have cut your impact in half or more.

Step Three: Offset your remaining footprint. Purchase carbon offsets, which are payments for projects that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gases, in an amount greater than or equal to the amount of your remaining impact. Like renewable energy, offsets are not as expensive as you may think. Check out carbon offset options at www.green-e.org. Most yoga students would love to be a part of this— put a “Carbon Offset” collection jar on the front desk to let them to contribute to reducing greenhouse gases.

Doesn’t that sound easy? The most important thing is to get started. Yogis are bound inextricably to the earth; it sustains us and we yogis must to unite to sustain it.

By Dean Jerrehian, President of Jade Yoga.