Recent government statistics evidence that almost one-fifth of Britain’s greenhouse gases come from businesses.
However, in the wake of widespread climate change concerns, new global environmental efforts, and popular TV shows such as Blue Planet II by Sir David Attenborough, consumers are becoming increasingly particular about who they buy from.
Consumers want to support businesses they perceive as green. A study conducted by Unilever revealed that one-third of people opt to purchase from brands based on their environmental and social impact. Additionally, 75% of the working demographic at small to medium enterprises (SMEs) highlight their employer’s sustainability efforts as increasingly important.
Fortunately, businesses can take numerous simple steps to improve their environmental footprint. Here are our top four tips for going green at work:
1. Evaluate Utility Consumption
Evaluating your utilities is an essential first step for businesses that want to go green. Undertaking an energy evaluation will enable you to understand consumption and where it may be possible to reduce this and save money.
Encourage all employees to:
- Hold online meetings where possible to reduce travel
- Turn off lights, computers, printers, and other equipment when they are not needed
- Turn down the heating and close windows when the heating is on
- Keep equipment maintained so it operates efficiently
To ensure staff support your efforts, explain the reasoning behind these actions rather than simply sending out a list of rules and protocols.
2. Compost Versus Landfill
Not only do landfills consume precious space with ever-increasing piles of ugly waste, but these sites are also incredibly harmful to the environment. Landfills produce toxins, leachate, and greenhouse gases, all of which contribute to the demise of our planet. In the United Kingdom, we send over 15 million tonnes of domestic waste to landfills every year. The exact figures for business waste are hard to measure precisely, but it is safe to say they must be astronomical.
Careful planning and concerted effort across an entire company can mean zero waste goes to landfills. So as a business, what can you do? You could:
- Engage expert waste treatment contractors
- Replace disposable plastic cutlery with bamboo
- Issue staff with reusable water bottles
- Replace fluorescent tubes with LED lighting
- Compost organic matter
- Dispose of e-waste safely or recycle (see more below)
To help create this ethos, it is beneficial to deploy mandatory environmental training across the whole company. This will help shift work culture and mean that all employees work together towards a shared goal.
3. Implement Creative Processes
We are frequently contributing to climate change entirely unwittingly. How many of us know that we can even make eco-conscious decisions around servers and website data?
We can creatively alter a host of internal operational processes with little individual effort by paying attention to the information around us and using out-of-the-box thinking.
Here are two key examples:
- Paper – of course, reducing the amount we print is an important step. We have long been aware of the importance of going digital in the office. However, for certain businesses going completely paperless is simply not feasible. In these instances, companies should integrate their print and scan solutions to allow documents to be digitally shared, edited, and stored for future use. The paper can then be recycled.
- Data Storage – the servers that host the data of a website, or processing software, are constantly on. These servers, therefore, require a tremendous amount of energy. Eco-conscious companies are opting to offset that energy usage in an attempt to go carbon neutral. Amazon, for example, has promised to produce zero net carbon emissions by 2040 through the implementation of wind and solar farms.
4. Recycle and Upcycle
Creativity does not just stop at operational processes – what about your recycling?
Recycling is a brilliant first step and must be actively encouraged companywide to prevent items from ending up in landfills. However, office recycling is not only reserved for paper and ink cartridges.
Many electronic items end up in landfills as people are unsure what to do. Waste such as televisions, computers and other electronic devices contain many harmful substances, including:
However, the recycling possibilities for these items are numerous. If they still work, schools or charities may benefit from a donation, or if not, you can utilise the increasing number of recycling programmes offered by the manufacturer or retailer. Of course – be sure to remove all data before recycling where appropriate.
Upcycling is also an excellent opportunity for companies who wish to go green. Upcycling has seen a massive rise in interest for shabby chic or vintage-inspired home interiors. So why not do this in the office too?
Sourcing vintage and second-hand furniture adds character and individuality to the office and is a more sustainable option. If your current furniture looks worn or tired, a lick of paint will transform the item cheaply and effectively.
The options for upcycling and recycling are unbounded as more and more of us think outside the box.
Every business impacts the planet. Therefore, integrating sustainable practices into our operations is more important than ever.
By looking at our carbon footprints and taking action to reduce them, we can help slow and hopefully even reverse the effects of climate change.