posted by Will Schreiber

Case
study: Tzedek

Tzedek's Will Schreiber on the charity's progress so far

Tzedek logo

Tzedek is an international development charity that works directly with grassroots development organisations overseas and seeks to raise awareness, educate and encourage the Jewish community to recognise, understand and act on to their Jewish responsibilities concerning extreme poverty around the world. We joined 10:10 in October 2009.

After signing up, our first move was to carry out a full audit of our carbon impacts. Working systematically through our accounts, we used DEFRA’s conversion factors to help us identify the problem areas. This was easy enough for energy, business travel and commuting, but other parts of our footprint weren't quite so straightforward.

Paper and printing

Diagram of impacts from paper manufacture and printing

We saw that paper and printing accounted for about 25% of our total emissions, so we prioritized this as an obvious ‘quick win’. By using only post-consumer recycled paper and switching to one of the most environmentally responsible printers in the world, (Seacourt) we managed to reduce our total organisational footprint by over 15% before even starting to work on behavioural change.

We managed to reduce our total organisational footprint by over 15% before even starting to work on behavioural change.

Food

As a charity, we hold a number of fundraisers and awareness events each year.  While emissions from transportation and the venue itself are significant, we were surprised to find that the biggest impact came from the food we served, thanks to the phenomenal embedded carbon present in meat

Diagram on the carbon impact of different foods, from the Tzedek guideline documentAs a result, we decided to move to vegetarian catering at our events, but we immediately faced a practical problem: what happens when we have someone who wants to throw an event on our behalf? 

Our solution was to request, (but not require) that they follow our food policy wishes. To make this as easy as possible, we created a series of mini business cards featuring information on the relative impact of different foods. We have also produced a consolidated info sheet of considerations when hosting a Tzedek event.  These are not always easy choices, but they are things that we need to address as a charity.

Air travel

Air travel is the final major area of our emissions, and the main focus of our efforts this year. As an international development charity that is growing significantly year-on-year, we face the eternal question of how to improve human quality of life and sustainably eradicate poverty in the face of climate change. We need to be able to support projects, but we also need to be able to assess whether or not they are working. 

Air travel is the final major area of our emissions, and the main focus of our efforts this year.

This is a challenge every development NGO needs to address urgently, as climate change threatens to undermine many of our past achievements and future goals. Overcoming issues around transparency will be crucial here, but we are confident that we can make progress. What better moment to tackle this than 2010, when thousands of 10:10 organisations are working on it at the same time?

Will Schreiber is Tzedek's overseas projects team and sustainability director.

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