3 Easy Steps to Start Tracking Your Carbon Footprint Today

These tips will leave you wondering why you didn’t start tracking your carbon footprint yesterday. 

A green New Zealand landscape

Photo by Ketan Kumawat on Pexels

Net zero emissions. 2050.

That’s where our team of 5 million is heading after the Government passed the Zero Carbon Amendment Act in 2019.

What does this mean? It means that as businesses, we have two options:

  1. wait for the Government to implement an Emissions Trading Scheme, and pay up large or,
  2. start reducing our carbon footprints now so that when the time comes, we can keep that money and spend it on bettering our own business outcomes.

Personally, we prefer option 2, and while it may seem like more work at first glance – we’re going to show you how it can be done in three easy steps…

Step 1: choose 2-3 carbon-emitting activities to start tracking

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of measuring, tracking, and actively reducing every single carbon emitting act your business undertakes.

But the truth is, no one goes carbon neutral overnight. Everyone has to start somewhere.

If you’re at the start of your emissions tracking journey, we recommend choosing 2-3 activities that you want to start tracking as a business. Once you’re comfortable taking these measurements, you can incrementally increase your capabilities from there.

Here are some of the first activities we tracked for inspiration:

Orange lightbulb


Keep a record of how much power your office consumes every time you receive your monthly power bill.

Orange lightbulb


Keep a log of the distance you are covering every time an employee travels by plane for work.

orange bin icon


Buy some luggage scales and regularly weigh the amount of waste your business is sending to the landfill.

orange car icon

Work commute

Ask your team to keep a log of the type of transport they take to work each day, the distance they cover, and also the days they work from home. This doesn’t have to feel like a chore for your team either – why not make it fun? There are so many ideas out there to gamify emissions tracking from creating a staff leaderboard to setting collective targets.

Step 2: calculate your carbon footprint (for free)

Before you create a reduction plan for the activities you’ve chosen to focus on, it’s important that you understand just how much these activities are contributing to your carbon footprint first. That way, you can figure out which areas require the most of your time and energy – and you can start to track your progress too.

At Thankyou Payroll, we’re lucky enough to be partnered with Ekos; experts in carbon calculating and offsetting, who calculate our carbon footprint for us. 

But we’d be lying if we said we started out this way; when we first started calculating our emissions in 2016, we had nothing but a simple spreadsheet to run the numbers.

This said, as the number of businesses measuring their emissions has gone up, so has the demand for tools that can help us do this. As a result, a number of free emissions calculators have been developed.

Here are a few of our favourites…

Business.govt Climate Action Toolbox

This is a great, simple tool for kiwi businesses to keep track of all of their emissions in the same place. The toolbox even provides you with a list of prioritised actions for you to take based on your everyday business operations.


CarbonClick offers a free emissions calculator which would be well suited to small businesses who are at the beginning of their emissions tracking journey. They also offer a variety of other services for businesses of all sizes to track, reduce, and offset their emissions – suited to your individual business needs. 

Carbon Positive Calculator

This one’s for the Excel lovers. Track a variety of different emissions with Carbon Positive’s free downloadable emissions calculator. 


FutureFit is like social media for the environmentally conscious. While their platform is directed at individuals rather than businesses, we think it’s a great way to encourage your employees to start thinking about their own footprints and to have a bit of fun with it. Who doesn’t love a bit of friendly competition?

Woman biking to work

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Step 3: assess, focus & take action

Once you’ve crunched the numbers, you’re ready to take action.

The first action you can take is to offset your carbon footprint. There are a number of awesome kiwi organisations who will do this for you. Or, if you’d rather get your hands dirty in the great scenery Aotearoa New Zealand has to offer, that’s great too.

The second action you can take is to try to reduce your carbon footprint. Again, start small. Figure out where your pain points are focus on these first.

For us, our biggest carbon-emitting activities this past financial year have been domestic flights and travelling to the office. Naturally, we’ve made it a big focus of ours to bring these numbers down, with plans to offer interest-free e-bike loans and bus cards to our staff.

We’re also making a conscious effort to plan our air travel strategically. For example, we’ve arranged for our Staff Hui and Customer Service Training to fall on the same week so that our Customer Support Team doesn’t have to fly twice.

It’s important to emphasise that committing to reducing your emissions doesn’t mean going cold turkey. We see great value in having our team come together a couple of times a year as it helps us stay connected. Committing to reducing your emissions simply means being prepared to make a few sacrifices here and there, to avoid making big sacrifices in the long run.

Change is coming – it’s inevitable. So let’s get ahead of this change today. Together.