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BOG acts to cut carbon emissions

Here are a few of the practical steps BOG as an organisation is taking to further reduce its impact on the environment.

As organic gardeners and members of BOG, we naturally challenge ourselves to do things differently in the fight against human-generated climate change. But what about BOG as a whole? What are we doing as a group that we could do differently? Here are a few of the practical steps BOG as an organisation is taking to further reduce its impact.

Travelling to BOG visits, meetings and other get-togethers

Planning activities

One of the great traditions of BOG is the opportunity for meeting other like-minded gardeners. Inevitably in an area as widespread as the Borders and Northumberland, this has always entailed travelling, in many cases several 10’s of miles. And typically we just jump in our cars for the journey. We try very hard to promote car sharing, putting members in touch with one another to maximise the number of car occupants and minimise the individual carbon cost of attending BOG events.

From this year, when BOG organises events, the organisers will actively promote public transport options for getting to the events. Although thin on the ground in the Borders, there are buses available. You’ll see in our Events calendar, we have been adding details to help with local bus services. With a bit of imagination and some lateral thinking, we may all be able to make more use of the public vehicles which may well be travelling towards our activity location. Even if we can’t get all the way there, it is possible for folk to take a bus as far as possible and arrange for a lift the final few miles. It is the overall carbon cost of attendance we are aiming to reduce.

We are also working to plan more events on Saturdays. Most of this year’s events to date, had they run, would have been on a Saturday when there are more public transport options available than on Sundays. This simple step would make it easier for more attendees to choose the green option for getting to BOG events. We will plan more Saturday (and other weekday) events once the current virus crisis is past.

Auditing carbon emissions

We are now taking it stage further. On the basis that we can’t manage what we don’t measure, we are now auditing our use of the transport that gets us to BOG activities. At each visit, we will circulate a simple form to record how each of us arrived at the event, who drove, how many miles we travelled and the fuel we used. If you arrive on a bike, so much the better! Over time this will build up into a useful set of data with which we can challenge ourselves to reduce fuel emissions per head even further.

BOG undertakes to report on the average per-person carbon cost of attending BOG events at the AGM each year, and then report on progress towards further reductions.

The BOG website and email systems

Recently, as you can tell, we updated the Borders Organic Gardeners website to make it easier to use and keep up to date. We took advantage of this work to move to a new web hosting company (they own the the computers the website is stored on). We were looking for an environmentally friendly operator that understood BOG’s concerns about carbon emissions. To our surprise, we found one that met the brief much more comprehensively than we imagined might be possible.

The problem with running computer operations at a scale suitable for inexpensive web hosting is heat. Computers hate getting too hot. So enormous amounts of energy are required just to keep the machines from giving up completely. Air conditioning is a standard approach to this problem. So, we need electricity to make the computers work in the first place – spinning hard discs, powering chips, whirring fans etc – and then we need more electricity to cool them down again, and lots of it.

With BOG’s new suppliers, this is somewhat different.

Ecohosting, our new hosting company, buy in their electricity from Ecotricity. All the power Ecotricity supply not only comes from 100% certifiably renewable sources, but they own and develop their own renewable sources that match what they sell. So the electricity powering our Ecohosting website all comes from wind farms and other low impact power generation plant.

But the computers still need cooling; doesn’t that just use the same power as everyone else? Well, Ecohosting have designed their computer rooms to minimise the amount of recooling performed on air that has already been cooled and reheated by the computers. They run their air conditioners at a slightly warmer level which requires less energy to keep the computers running happily. Ecohosting reckon they have cut the cost of air conditioning by over 50% compared to a typical data centre operation.

On top of that, all the computers are based in the UK. Ecohosting do not need to use more power storing the website in the US and then transferring data across the Atlantic, say, as do some of their competitors.

So, less energy, and what energy they do use is from certifiable renewable sources.

How could BOG not go for that as a solution? Computers may be a necessary evil these days but BOG is taking steps to make sure their online presence is as green as possible.

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