Becoming an eco-friendly business should be at the top of your priority list. Many businesses are now taking action to reduce carbon emissions and waste, prioritising both the planet and a thriving yet sustainable work culture. 20 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU are already taking the initiative to craft greener office policies.
Regardless of which industry you may be in, it is time to join the green movement and adapt your business to become more eco-friendly and sustainable. You can start small and engage your employees to help you become an environmentally-friendly business.
Here are five environmentally-friendly business practices you can try.
To help you understand where to focus your efforts, it’s a good idea to calculate and report your annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Calculating your organisational carbon footprint is an essential component in crafting environmentally-friendly business practices. It assesses the problem and helps identify opportunities to become more sustainable.
Planet Mark is a highly regarded certification programme that helps businesses measure and reduce their carbon emissions, energy, and water consumption. With their three-step process, Planet Mark can help your business save money and build a stronger brand during your sustainability journey.
When it comes to reducing an organisation’s carbon footprint, a common practice is going paperless and switching to digital files rather than stacking up mounds of paperwork. However, going digital is not as environmentally-friendly as it may seem. Our internet usage also has a surprisingly large environmental impact; in fact, it is on par with the entire aviation industry’s emissions from fuel. A typical website produces around 4.6 grams of carbon emissions whenever a page loads.
Businesses should be mindful of the amount of data used and take steps to reduce their digital carbon footprint. Reconsider your website service providers and carefully choose those whose data centres use 100% renewable energy instead of fossil fuel electricity.
Due to the increasing demand for electrical power and growing concern for the environment, both small and large businesses are adopting solar energy as an alternative power source.
Switching to solar not only helps the environment, but is also a cost-effective energy source. Solar panels and other solar accessories are now an affordable option and require little to no maintenance.
According to a report from The Economist, 40% of the UK’s electricity generation now comes from renewables, with the most popular renewable energy source being solar power. According to the same report, six in ten businesses in the hospitality and retail industry have adopted solar panels.
You can also discuss reducing or eliminating meat and dairy from your business catering during events and meetings. Studies have shown that the global livestock industry produces as much, if not more, greenhouse gas emissions as transport. Simply eating less meat can be essential to curbing the effects of climate change – it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle change.
If your business offers free lunch and snacks, try to ensure this comes from responsible sources using ecologically beneficial systems. If you do choose to serve meat, ask your local butcher if the meat they serve was pasture-fed. The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) claims that grain-fed livestock rely heavily on fossil fuels to grow and process the grain compared to pasture-fed cattle and sheep who rely on existing grassland.
Another option is to engage employees who eat out or bring lunch to work, to only purchase food and drinks with verified environmental standards.
Often when businesses think about environmentally-friendly practices, water conservation and management tend to skip their list. Encourage your staff to brainstorm water-saving initiatives and create eco-friendly water-saving policies and procedures. This can include monthly reports on water use figures during team meetings; it can help establish a baseline for water use and identify achievable targets for saving water.
Aside from employee initiatives, you can contact your building management team to request the installation of low-flow restrictors. Low-flow restrictors for toilets and faucets can cut water flow down from 2.2 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons.
Back in early 2019, Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, warned that England could run short of water within 25 years. The demand for water will soon increase due to the impact of climate change and population growth. On average, people in England use around 140 litres of water a day. Sir James has called on the public to cut their water usage to 100 litres.
Engage and educate your employees about climate change and water conservation, and discuss more solutions. If you feel like ideas are running dry, research companies with the best water management practices. Coca-Cola has improved the efficiency of its water use by 20% and identified the need for a rigorous third-party evaluation of its water management approach.
Working from home is not only convenient and less stressful – there are also environmental benefits of remote work.
The biggest advantage of remote work is less commuting which means reducing carbon emissions. According to Global Workforce Analytics, remote workers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tonnes every year. Now, that’s only for people who worked out of the office for half of the week!
Working from home also means using fewer office resources. It is one of the most effective ways to combat pollution and reduce waste management. With fewer employees at the office, your business can cut down on everything from printer paper to energy use.
With the rise of the digital age, you can encourage employees to use video conferencing or other alternatives to minimise travel. Another option is to incentivise walking, cycling or public transportation for meetings so your employees can not only reduce the office’s carbon footprint but theirs as well.
Prepare your meeting room because there are lots of environmentally-friendly discussions to cover. There’s no time to waste as you prioritise people and our planet in your new business plans.