Hemp: One; Carbon: Zero


There’s a lot to admire and emulate about the hemp plant — strength, flexibility and resilience for starters. But perhaps its biggest lesson is the importance of taking care of the Earth that supports us all.

Here at Manitoba Harvest, we take our commitment to environmental sustainability very seriously. This Earth Day, we want to share with you how we live that commitment and put our money where our mouth is.

In 2018, we decided to further that commitment by becoming Carbon Neutral. We partnered with a Canadian organization called Carbonzero to conduct a full assessment of the carbon impact of our natural gas and electricity use across our Canadian-based production, packing and management facilities, and our Minneapolis-based offices.

For the past three years, we’ve done a corporate greenhouse gas inventory with Carbonzero. Based on the results, we then purchase renewable energy credits and carbon offsets that produce wind generated electricity and sequester carbon emissions equivalent to the amount that we generate each year.

For the past three years, we’re proud to say that Manitoba Harvest has been officially Carbonzero Certified, meaning that Manitoba Harvest has achieved carbon neutrality under a structure that maintains the highest level of environmental integrity.

Carbonzero launched in 2006 to help governments, organizations, individuals and NGOS manage and mitigate their climate impact. For the past 15 years, they’ve been a North American industry leader in greenhouse gas measurement, reduction, and offsetting solutions.

Their business has two sides. One is measuring and quantifying carbon footprints through greenhouse gas inventories, environmental audits and life cycle analysis. The other is working with project developers, proponents and clients to source and create projects that sequester, avoid, reduce and destroy greenhouse gas emissions and turn them into carbon offsets.

Carbonzero’s project network spans the globe, but most of the projects they work on are based in North America and offer social benefits above and beyond carbon offsetting, such as job creation and giving back to the communities where they’re located.

Protecting Biodiversity in Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment

The Carbonzero project that Manitoba Harvest contributes to is Carbonzero’s flagship project, the Niagara Escarpment Forest Carbon Project (NEFCP). The project is run in collaboration with the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, Canada's second-largest land conservation agency, dedicated to preserving natural systems that house 58 of Ontario's native species at risk or of concern, including the Pileated Woodpecker, Painted Turtle and Great Grey Owl.

This Great Gray Owl wants to know if you’ve eaten your daily serving of hemp hearts today.  Photo: Melissa Groo

The project maintains forest cover and ecosystem function in areas where local industries such as logging and mineral extraction increase pressures on land and wildlife. Protecting and fostering tree growth in these areas contributes to carbon capture and enhances biodiversity.

Manitoba Harvest is proud to contribute to the protection of the area’s rare species, biodiversity and geological features in their natural condition.

This Painted Turtle says, “Thank you kindly for protecting my home.”  Photo: Born Free USA

This Painted Turtle says, “Thank you kindly for protecting my home.”
Photo: Born Free USA

Renewable energy is blowing in the wind

In addition to the carbon offsets from the NEFCP, Manitoba Harvest also purchases renewable energy credits for our electricity use from a wind generation project in Central Canada. For every megawatt hour of electricity we use across our business, we purchase one megawatt hour of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to support further renewable energy generation where we operate.

Photo: Zhang Fengsheng

Photo: Zhang Fengsheng

We continue to work toward reducing our carbon emissions as much as possible — and Carbonzero’s assessment of our natural gas use shows we’ve made big strides in doing so over the past several years, despite continued growth in our output. But we’re also committed to offsetting the energy we do still consume, and funding the creation of clean energy in equal proportions.

Enabling you to live your values

We know that sustainability is as important to our customers as it is to us. But as individuals, it can feel like our opportunities to have a big environmental impact are limited. That’s why one of the best things you as an individual can do is make sure you’re consuming products made by companies that reflect your values.

Look for brands and companies with B-Corp certification (we nabbed ours in 2014), Carbon Neutral operations (three years and counting over here at Manitoba Harvest), and a commitment to fair and supportive labor practices (our relationships with our growers speak for themselves).

Because if there’s anything we’ve learned from our friend the hemp plant over the years, it’s that thriving on this planet is a two-way street. We have to give back to the earth that feeds our roots and the air that fans our leaves. We’ll keep on doing our part, and we know that you will too.