The core message of COP26 was unmistakable: we must act immediately to assist the environment.
Businesses play an essential part in this. Here is a list of environmental steps small companies may take to minimize carbon emissions, improve sustainability, and lessen their negative influence on the environment.
Increase your workplace’s energy efficiency.
Energy usage in industry and buildings (including residential and commercial) accounted for 41.7 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, indicating that there is still potential for improvement.
“The most common starting point for most businesses will be energy efficiency. “Not least because it is ecologically friendly, but also because it saves money for the company,” said Stephen Roper, an enterprise professor at Warwick Business School, to Small Business.
To begin, here are a few simple things to consider.
- LED lights are more energy-efficient, last longer, and need less maintenance than conventional lights.
- Insulation – decrease your emissions and save money on heating by insulating your home.
- Laptop computers use less energy than desktop PCs.
- Turn off the lights as much as possible.. frequently as you can — you could even turn off the electricity to objects like laptops at the wall.
- Examine your appliances and replace them with at least A+ rated in terms of energy efficiency.
- Install a smart meter is a terrific method for companies to keep track of their energy use, manage their costs, and perhaps save money.
Switching to a green energy tariff is also a clear benefit. It’s much more intimidating right now since many smaller (and more ethical) suppliers have gone bankrupt. “I believe there is no assurance in the gas and energy markets right now,” Roper added. “At the present, the safest option is to deal with one of the major providers, and they all offer green rates that are somewhat more costly than the other tariffs.
“At the very least, you may be sure that the coastline and the budget line will remain consistent. Whereas, in many of these cases, smaller businesses have seen their prices suddenly rising or tripling, which isn’t helpful for anybody attempting to budget.”
Louise Palmer-Masterton, CEO of eatery Stem & Glory, feels that making minor changes and switching energy suppliers may significantly impact. “If you combine this move with energy-saving measures like LED lighting and energy-saving gadgets, the higher cost of these tariffs may be compensated by changes in your office or factory’s behavior.”
Encourage employees to commute to work using more environmentally friendly modes of transportation
You should lead by example with your employees, but you should ideally want people to follow your lead.
Above all, encouraging rather than coercing employees into good behaviors is critical.
“I believe that people are eager to help where they can to reduce the environmental impact.” As an employer, I’d be expanding on that and attempting to get people together inside the organization to ask, “How can we work together as a company to lower our carbon footprint?”
“I believe that the most potent kind of incentive for individuals is having their ideas recognized and taken seriously by management or company owners.”
Encourage employees who commute to work to carpool instead of driving in separate vehicles. Depending on how many staff you have, you could even start a car-sharing or ride-sharing program.
Subsidies for less ecologically detrimental modes of transportation, such as the bike to work program, should be considered. You may also subsidize season tickets and travel passes, which can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings for your employees. Unless it’s part of a salary sacrifice contract, you don’t have to report this to HMRC. Thus it’s a tax advantage.
Be considerate to people who need a private vehicle for convenience, mobility, or other reasons. “I believe that many folks don’t have a lot of options,” Roper stated. “I believe that as an employer, you must recognize that certain employees may need to use their automobiles, or will need to catch a ride with someone, or will need to do whatever they need to do.” I believe you must first be reasonably accepting of people’s decisions in this area.”
He adds that some more prominent firms give bike and bike maintenance grants. Even a small business may provide bike parking or a covered area for cycling employees to store their bikes.
Encourage employees who work from home to be more environmentally conscious.
Working from home provides a variety of environmental advantages. It decreases traffic congestion in congested regions such as city centers and lowers pollution from commuting. Furthermore, employees may be more likely to utilize food from home than purchasing lunch and coffee in single-use containers. However, depending on your staff’s behavior, many home offices might leave a larger carbon footprint than a central workplace.
When they’re not in use, advise them to turn off their gadgets (both on the device and at the wall). It could also be beneficial to urge them to check into local recycling options to see if they can recycle more. Why not set aside one day a week for everyone to have a plant-based lunch?
Reduce the amount of paper and stationery you use.
Try eliminating paper as much as possible, including invoices, bills, corporate announcements, and other stationery like sticky labels. Request that employees only print files when required and that all presentations be done utilizing digital technology, with as few paper handouts as feasible.
Apps for note-taking are available for both mobile and tablet devices, making them perfect for you and your staff. Finally, instead of using actual file storage, utilize file storage software.
As many of these suggestions, making environmental habits simple for workers is more likely to result in long-term change. “You can retrain your thinking to question whether every single energy consumption is required,” Palmer-Masterton stated when engaging employees.
She suggests that you consider the following three questions:
- Does the company require this?
- Where did this come from?
- What happens when we no longer need or want it? What happens to the packaging, by the way?
“It’s not about being flawless,” she told Small Business, “but you can train yourself (and your team) into healthier purchasing habits this way, and it’s surprising how quickly this method can transform your thinking.”
According to Swedish research, the default choice accounts for 30% of paper use. Compared to a single-sided print option, which uses more paper and energy, switching the default to the double-sided option may save up to 15% on paper usage.
Make use of reconditioned or used items
Similarly, limiting new technology purchases is less harmful to the environment. Some stores and websites offer both used and reconditioned items. If you desire anything fresh, several stores provide discounted display models of products like computers.
Consider second-hand furniture for your workplace social spaces, which not only provides a unique off-beat aesthetic but also eliminates the need for new items.
When you purchase anything used, it’s up to the seller to make sure it’s in good enough shape to sell to you. However, going to a respected vendor who is experienced and readily contactable if anything goes wrong is still a good idea.
Read more about upgrading business technology – new vs. refurbished in Upgrading business technology – new vs. refurbished.
Many workplaces already have recycling facilities, but you can take it a step further by making it more straightforward for employees to recycle by placing bins in handy locations. They are having paper and card recycling near the printer, for example. Staff won’t leave paper lying about a defined desk policy (maybe even hotdesking).
Because the garbage collected by different suppliers varies, check with your waste contractor to see whether they recycle what you use. It’s also a good idea to see how often they collect and whether there’s any fine print you should be aware of, such as how the money should be distributed. Before you sign anything, double-check the fees since they are typically based on the kind of material you’ll be recycling.
Remind employees to wash containers before recycling them since food residue cannot be processed, and the container they were trying to recycle may wind up in the trash.
Composting may be a possibility for your business, depending on where it is located. To discover any issues, inquire about permits from the property owner. Coffee grinds, tea bags (as long as they aren’t plastic), and other food waste may all be composted or kept in an airtight container.
Make use of digital technology
Of course, you have the standard technology, such as video conferencing software, rather than traveling worldwide for events and meetings. This, as we all know, may significantly cut emissions.
On the other hand, Roper feels that different, less obvious technology might help you reduce your carbon footprints.
“For example, if you have digital controls on equipment and the machines sense when they aren’t being utilized, the machines may shut down,” he said.
Make sure your packaging is environmentally friendly
If you own a takeout food and beverage company or a business that sends things in packaging, such as an Etsy store, you may want to look into greener packaging choices. Mushrooms, seaweed, and cornstarch are among the odd examples, but several more biodegradable and recyclable solutions are available.
Obtain an outside audit
Bring in an expert to go at your work and discover where you can improve. This isn’t only for huge companies; according to a study conducted by the Warwick Business School last year, one out of every five SMEs has completed an environmental report.
What is the best way to locate an auditor?
“There are a variety of third-party and nonprofit organizations that perform things, and Google is a terrific tool for finding them.” “Getting in contact with someone who may be able to assist around that space via LEPs or Growth Hubs could be a good approach to get in touch with someone who might be able to help,” Roper added.
Make green firms a part of your supply chain by partnering with them.
Collaborate with other companies that are pursuing green projects. The ethics of your supply chain, as well as your own, are essential to modern consumers. Before you team up, do some research to discover whether the company’s values coincide with yours.
A list of green-certified vendors may be found at green-providers.co.uk.
If in doubt, search for an ISO 14001 certification; nevertheless, just because a firm doesn’t have one doesn’t indicate they’re not environmentally conscious.
Become a B Corporation.
After putting everything in place, demonstrate your worth by being certified. The B Corp accreditation is time-consuming (200 questions), but it may be worthwhile if your target market is more socially conscious.
The evaluation is free and assesses your overall social and environmental performance, including your supply chain, materials used, and employee benefits. It offers advantages beyond the environment; it may also attract workers, consumers, and investors. Once you’ve been certified, you’ll have to pay an annual fee based on your yearly sales.
We’ve saved this for last since carbon offsetting is a step you should take after taking other actions to minimize your emissions. Consumers may accuse you of greenwashing if you prioritize carbon offsetting above carbon reduction.
Calculate your carbon impact first. Calculate the emissions generated by your daily activities, such as on-site gasoline, a corporate vehicle, or industrial procedures. The second category includes energy sources you purchase but do not own or control, such as heat and electricity. Indirect emissions that arise from your company activity are the third scope. Consider trash and emissions from transporting bought items and the carbon footprint of personnel traveling to and from work.
Put these numbers into an online carbon calculator like this one from Carbon Footprint. Once you’ve calculated your carbon footprint, you may create plans to cut your emissions while also offsetting the remainder by planting trees and giving to environmental causes.
How many items on the environmental checklist for small enterprises have you completed?
Several methods make your company more environmentally friendly and sustainable, regardless of where you begin or how many you’ve previously completed. Please provide any further suggestions in the comments section. section. section below.