CEOs roll up their sleeves for the Carbon Footprint Initiative

Ron Coghlin and Tracy MacDonald usually lead shareholder meetings and run their multi-million dollar companies — but on this day, they’re rolling up their sleeves and digging in the dirt.

“Getting our hands dirty,” said Tracy MacDonald, CEO and president of Trillium Mutual Insurance with headquarters in Listowel, Ont.

The CEOs behind the grassroots Carbon Footprint Initiative got some direct experience offsetting the carbon that both their companies produce by planting 100 trees at the edge of a soccer field in Wingham.

“We’re a significant polluter and we needed to do something about that,” said Ron Coghlin, the founder of Molesworth Farm Supply, located between Wingham and Listowel.

In 2015, the livestock feed maker and supplier produced 2,000 tonnes of carbon by delivering animal feed across Ontario. By committing to the Carbon Footprint Initiative, Molesworth Farm Supply cut their emissions by 10 per cent over three years.

“Things as simple as turning off office lights that aren’t in use. Molesworth Farm Supply has become a better company because of the Carbon Footprint Initiative,” said Coghlin.

The Carbon Footprint Initiative is more than a group of companies trying to ease their environmental conscience by planting a few trees each year.

Each participant, including six Huron-Perth companies, Huron County, North Perth and the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA), have strict yearly goals to reduce their carbon outputs, and sequester as much carbon as possible through participation in projects such as tree planting.

“At the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority, we’ve set a target of restoring 100 acres of our land back to forest, and we’re 80 per cent there,” said Phil Beard, general manager with the MVCA, and leader with the Carbon Footprint Initiative.

Beard says the grassroots organization can serve as a model for other climate change projects that aren’t government funded or driven.

“We’re all learning from each other because none of this has really been done before. We all have to try and learn how to do it ourselves and share experiences,” said Beard.

You can learn more about the Carbon Footprint Initiative on its website.  

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