An update on our journey to Net Zero

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: We’re now officially a Climate Positive company, which means we’ve offset at least 150% of our carbon emissions. Thanks to our partners at ON A MISSION for facilitating our carbon compensation through their worldwide reforestation projects.

DISCLAIMER: this post starts off boring but gets VERY COOL by the end…bear with me. I’m trying to be fully transparent about our journey to Net Zero, and the latest IPCC warnings have reminded me that an update is overdue.

Told you it would start off boring.

The biggest toe(?) on our carbon footprint is always going to be transport. The nature of our work means we often need to drive to locations with our camera kit. Since moving to our new premises, we’ve been able to store kit in central Manchester rather than in our houses. That’s given us a chance to experiment with public transport as a way of getting to shoots; we’ve done a couple via tram already.

Large cupboard full of camera equipment
Our camera kit cupboard in our central Manchester production office

To give an idea of the difference this makes, here’s an example from a couple of weeks ago. I cycled to town from Cheadle Hulme, picked up the kit and got the tram to Media City for a shoot. Then the same in reverse later that day.

The emissions for that journey are 70g. The same journey by car would be around 5.5kg. (Source)

Camera bags with Studio 91 Media logo, at a Metrolink tram stop
Our standard camera kit, including tripod and lighting, fits into these two bags. No problem at all on the tram to Media City – as long as there’s not a United match on…!

That one simple change reduced the carbon footprint of the shoot by nearly 99%. It also saved money when you take extortionate city centre parking into account. (Admittedly, public transport is often NOT the cheap option).

How close are we to Net Zero?

In 2021, by using our cargo bike and my plug-in hybrid car, we were able to save over half a tonne of emissions across 74 shoots. Add public transport into the equation, and we could make a huge difference and set the standard for sustainable video production. We’re also proactively going after new business in the city centre, to minimise travel altogether. I’m confident that we can reach Net Zero by 2025. There will still be some residual emissions in Scope 3 (which includes public transport and employees’ vehicles). But we can offset these and still meet the Net Zero criteria.

One final thought…

If you own or work for a small business, you have the massive advantage of being agile. You’re able to make changes quickly, then change them again if they’re not working. That gives you an opportunity to lead the way in the climate action space, and show the big dogs how it’s done.

Tram photo by Zohaib Alam on Unsplash

By Ben Horrigan

I've been producing digital content since 2012, primarily for flagship BBC brands like Blue Peter and BBC News. Now I run Studio 91 Media, a video production agency on a mission: to create content that is good for platforms, good for people and good for the planet. When I'm not behind a camera, I can often be found playing cello at weddings or riding a three-wheeled cargo bike called Babs.