Stalling on making your business eco-friendly is no longer viable. Market research shows that consumers are more considerate of environmental issues than ever before when making decisions about what businesses they give their custom to. Beyond that, the UK Government is taking a much tougher stance on climate change-related issues, so it’s likely that there will be financial penalties for excessive carbon footprints that may come into force before the end of this Parliament.
The negative impact of inaction is one thing, but it’s important to approach reducing your carbon footprint as a positive development. While there may be some upfront expenses, the long-term positives for your business are immeasurable, such as the potential good PR and ensuring your business, and the planet’s, long-term health. Here are some things to think about when greening your business.
Take a holistic approach
Greening your business is something that should be considered in every decision you make, both strategic and day-to-day. As a result, it’s good to appoint someone whose job it is to consider the environmental impact of these decisions, as well as brainstorming new ideas for how to green your business. This ‘green champion’ can be the point-person for ensuring any decision made has had its environmental impact considered and minimised. While it is good to set some concrete goals, it’s worth acknowledging that making your business eco-friendly is a process that won’t occur overnight and needs to truly permeate every aspect of your business, and having a ‘green champion’ is a great way of ensuring that.
Perform a ‘green audit’
Once you’ve got the right mindset and understand the weight of the project, it’s time to begin auditing your current business arrangements and seeing where improvements can be made. For most businesses offering goods, the supply chain is where the bulk of this work will be focussed. Think about where your components or raw materials are coming from and try to minimise the carbon footprint. This may mean trying to buy more locally to minimise the carbon footprint from travel or looking at alternative materials that are less resource-intensive to produce or process.
For businesses offering services, the considerations will be different and will generally be focussed a lot closer to home. You will likely still have procured things like web hosting or energy sources, the suppliers of which will have some environmental impact of their own which you can weigh up. Other things to consider could be making your office more energy efficient on your end by changing your behaviour, minimising travel for yourself and your employees by offering incentives to encourage car-pooling or cycling to work. What about eliminating single-use plastics from your office environment? All valuable contributions to reducing your business’ carbon footprint.
Truly greening your business requires structural changes, but there are some quick fixes you can make to generally minimise your business' environmental impact. This could include switching to green cleaning products, trying to move any paper-based work to a digital solution, or buying shrubs and plants or your office to improve air quality (this has the added benefits of improved employee mental health and making your office more visually appealing).