It is no secret that climate change is one of the biggest problems facing our world today. Facing this reality is everyone’s responsibility and we all have a part to play. This ranges from the largest global corporations to individual people and everyone in between. However, the issue can seem so big and complex, it can be hard to know where to start.
Making your business greener is simpler than you think and small changes make a world of difference. Not only is this good for the environment, it also benefits your reputation, and your sales. Customers and employees are increasingly looking out for good environmental practice, and this is only going to become more common with the transition to a low carbon economy.
With this in mind, here are 5 straightforward ways to make your business greener:
1. Switch up your commute
Transport, particularly by car is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The more cars on the road, the more congestion and waiting in traffic, which results in cars idling in traffic for longer, releasing more CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. As an alternative to driving, encouraging your employees to use public transport including buses, trains, and trams, will greatly reduce the emissions from their commutes.
You can go even further than this and encourage walking and cycling to work from your team. These activities are entirely carbon neutral. The Cycle to Work scheme is a great way for UK employers to incentivize cycling from their team. This is as easy as signing up to the government scheme and means employees do not have to pay tax or national insurance on bicycle purchases. What’s more, it is scientifically proven that daily exercise reduces stress levels – an added benefit of encouraging cycling to the office.
Alternatively, you might consider cutting the commute altogether and encouraging your team to work from home from time to time. This reduces commuting time congestion on the roads and in public transport, lowering overall emissions.
2. Eat less meat and dairy as a team
The meat and dairy industry is responsible for approximately 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to UN studies. The reason for this is our diet, with most of the population in the developed world eating meat and dairy products multiple times a week. With the ever-increasing popularity of vegetarian and vegan meals, there has never been a better time to reduce our meat and dairy consumption.
Kickstarting this change in the office is a great way to encourage people to try new foods and break old habits. Why not start Meat Free Mondays, where everyone in your business eats vegetarian food for one day a week. Or if you’re up for a challenge, why not do Veganuary as a team. One person eating a vegan diet for a month saves 124,900 litres of water, 84 square meters of forest, and 273kg of CO2 emissions. Imagine the positive environmental impact of your whole company eating vegan for a month.
3. Offset your company carbon footprint and become carbon neutral
Carbon offsetting is the best way of reaching your green business goals. If you’re not familiar, the concept is simple. Balance your CO2 emissions by reducing emissions elsewhere in the world through supporting carbon reduction schemes. Result: carbon neutral business!
Did you know that all travel done by your employees for work, including flights and train travel counts as part of your company carbon footprint? Reducing your carbon footprint is an important way to fulfil your Corporate Social Responsibility and meet your sustainable goals. Nowadays, employees are much more likely to work for companies that have a clear green agenda. So offsetting can help you attract and retain a high calibre workforce.
Services like Treepoints simplify company carbon offsetting into monthly plans. All you have to do is select the membership tier that is right for you. Your money is donated to a portfolio of carbon reduction projects around the world, all of which contribute to sustainable development and are verified by UN approved Gold Standard certification. Examples of carbon reduction projects include reforestation in Panama, solar cooking in Chad, and wind farms in Indonesia. This means not only are you reducing carbon emissions, but you’re also supporting vulnerable communities and ecosystems around the world.
Read more: Does carbon offsetting actually work?
4. Waste less
When our waste is sent to landfill, it releases methane as it breaks down, which is a greenhouse gas. As a result, landfill contributes around 6% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. We can combat this by wasting less, not just at home, but in businesses as well. One simple way to achieve this is by making sure you are recycling as much as possible in the office. Check with your building manager (or local council if you manage your own building) which recycling options are available to you. Encourage your employees to think before they throw away, and make sure they are recycling as much as possible.
Large, electronic items like laptops and mobile phones can also be recycled. Check with the manufacturer or provider for instructions on how to recycle these correctly.
Waste also includes energy wastage. In businesses, we often forget good green practice such as turning off the lights when we’re not using them, and switching off appliances at the wall rather than leaving them on standby. This can reduce your overall energy usage, cutting carbon emissions, and will reduce your electricity bills as well.
5. Switch to a green energy provider
A simple switch to make your business greener is to change your energy provider to a green business energy tariff. This means that some or all of the electricity you use as a business comes from renewable energy. Sources of renewable energy include solar, wind, hydroelectric and biomass. Make sure to check what percentage of the electricity comes from renewable sources as this will vary depending on the supplier.
Check out Bulb, Ovo and Octopus for renewable energy for businesses. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint and help you become a green business, but it may also save you money. This is because renewable energy is often cheaper than energy from fossil fuels.
And if you’re in a shared office or co-working space, start a conversation about which energy provider they use. It might be that they’ve never considered going green before.
So now you know a few simple ways to become a greener business. Putting these into action will help you reduce your impact on the planet, doing your bit for a more sustainable future.
About the Author
Georgia is content manager at Treepoints. She is passionate about environmental sustainability and promoting green living. She also loves baking and walking her labradoodle.