Gone are the days of businesses being exempt from taking responsibility for their environmental impact. As the climate change crisis mounts and consumers are becoming more conscious than ever of their spending power, companies that can actively fly their ecofriendly colours will always come out on top. Luckily, going green isn’t difficult and doesn’t have to mean compromising on profit – in fact, there are many ways to run a business that are not only environmentally sound, but also great ways to save money. Here are 4 ways to do your part as a business.
Ramp up your recycling
No matter the nature of your company, you likely produce plenty of paper, cardboard and plastic waste – and all of it is easily recyclable with a little effort. Invest in sorting bins, encourage employees to recycle waste in the office, or try out a recycling compactor to reduce down bulky packaging and cardboard boxes, making them easy to handle and recycle. According to QCR, a business can save an average of £1,248 per year simply by switching to a baler instead of bins. Balers and compactors are easy to use, take up no more space than a filing cabinet, and soon pay for themselves. If you already recycle, why not consider composting food waste from the company kitchen, or using upcycled furniture for the office?
Switch to more ethical suppliers
Progressive companies all over the world are taking encouraging steps to create products that are ethically made, ingredients that air fair trade or carbon neutral, and packaging that is recycled and fully recyclable. In the past, the cheapest, most convenient suppliers were far more attractive than their more sustainable competitors, but this is no longer the case. If you’re committed to going green for the foreseeable future, start by appraising all your suppliers and ask honestly if you can do better. Could you choose local, more ethical supply chains that entail less exploitation for the environment, the workers involved, or both? Many customers will appreciate a business that can act with a real conscience, boosting your company’s green reputation.
Consider having employees work from home
In a world ravaged by the Corona virus and the fallout from months of lockdown, working from home has gone from an abstract concept to something businesses have been forced to make work. Now’s the time to consider whether lockdown lessons can be used moving forward. If your business allows for it, having employees work from home in the long term drastically cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions from their commute, and saves you overhead costs – not to mention your employees may well love you for it.
If it’s necessary for workers to be on the premises, why not institute a cycle-to-work plan, offer incentives for using public transport or even have a shorter work week that takes advantage of remote communication platforms like Zoom? You’ll be part of a growing international trend for better work-life balance, and more flexibility and independence for employees.
Switch to a better energy provider
The UK has a long way to go in terms of green buildings, but that doesn’t mean individual businesses can’t take the lead by improving their carbon footprint on their own facilities. There are plenty of ways to reduce your total energy use, saving you money while cutting your carbon footprint. Solar panels are an increasingly attractive option, and, though expensive, will pay for themselves in the long run, lasting decades after installation.
On a smaller scale, savings can be made by ditching energy-hogging appliances (these can be recycled) or switching to more efficient and longer lasting lightbulbs. Put boilers and heaters on timers and establish some company rules for reducing energy wastage – every little bit helps. Doing a full energy audit once a year will not only allow you to see exactly how much your business is using, but it will give you a tangible sense of all the real savings you could potentially make with just a few adjustments.
The conservation messages of previous decades focused mainly on small things that individual consumers could do. But today, the impetus is on governments and business big and small to take responsibility for improving their eco-friendly status. Business owners of all kinds are in the position to inspire others to make significant and lasting changes towards better sustainability. Start small – no matter the size or nature of your business, it’s possible to do your part to protect the planet we all need to live on for generations to come.