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1.) Small things done well and often; and 2.) Transparency in our approach

Certainly regarding the latter, there is a whole load of what could be referred to as voodoo out there in the world of corporate sustainability, coupled with a healthy dose of jargonese thrown around the place. Companies invariably must try and work out how/ if/ when/ why they should do stuff. Should they ‘get certified,’ how does a carbon offset work, should they plant some trees, should they go paperless. It can be overwhelming and not everything is possible, for every organisation; certainly not overnight. Some companies are genuinely trying. Others perhaps just say they are, as it is the expected thing perhaps in the early 21st century to say you’re ‘sustainable.’

Rat Race is a small firm, but our activities are varied. We put 1000s of people at a time through mass-participation events in the UK, we fly people around the world to have amazing adventures and we sell items of clothing that sometimes are sourced on one side of the world, to then be delivered to the other side of the world. Our environmental footprint is varied and it is fully accepted that we have one. I guess where we start our own approach here is an awareness that we want to contribute to the solution in helping the Planet and if we can align our business activities to that end, that has got to be a positive outcome. Some of that outlook has been ingrained in our business practices forever and some of that is coming onstream now, as we think it all through more and more.

So, with the mantra above of ‘small things done well and often,’ we used some of our recent lockdown time to good effect, to engage with the big questions on the environmental side of things. We were able to take a really long, hard look at our activities and assess how we could potentially up the ante on our environmental commitments. I asked our staff to each come up with 10 ideas that they thought we could look at within the business – whether that was in their day jobs or company-wide – to commit to a more environmentally aware way of working. The result of that work is shown here. That transparency is key to us. It is easy in the environmental debate for companies to say they are doing their bit and a cynical view may say that some simply pay lip-service to this. Simply to ‘be seen to be thinking environmentally.’ But really, really doing stuff – doing the small stuff well and often – that is where we want to be at Rat Race.

This is work in progress. We have achieved a lot already from the list we set ourselves. Day-to-day, we are not shipping tens of thousands of race tees half way around the world anymore, for a significant number of them to remain unused and end up being disposed of. We have re-shored our medal manufacture and switched to wood. We have phased out loads of single-use plastics at events and our office practices have all been upgraded to be as environmentally sound as they can be. Our event catering food provenance has always been strong and our recycling activities have taken a turn for the better.

Clearly we are involved in travel. Perhaps that is a bit of an Elephant in the Room. We didn’t do much of that in 2020, for obvious reasons. But I will be honest and say that we don’t want to stop travelling. I don’t think the world is going to stop travelling either. So we are looking at how we can contribute to the industry and to best practice here. Notably we consider out outlook towards aviation, with analysis of our carbon footprint underway, with a view to carbon offsetting for our own travel and for that of our participants . We are also looking at ground-breaking ways we can make a difference within some of our host locations. That may lead to us purchasing and protecting (and investing in) some land in Panama to further the adventure for Rat Racers and to further the protection of incredible habitats for local flora and fauna, for example. Rat Race’s Operations Director is tasked currently at a view on the carbon-neutral outlook for the business and investigating how we work up our response to scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions accounting across the firm. We aim to achieve carbon-neutral for our day-to-day business activities by the end of 2021. That is our big goal for now and I think we are on track.

In the meantime, we will give total transparency in our approach and we will do the small things often; and we hope we can do them well. If you think we can do better or if you have a suggestion for us, whether that is as a customer or a member of the adventuring public, please do contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Jim Mee
Rat Race Founder and MD, May 2021

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