Businesses are responsible for the large majority of global emissions, with just 100 of the world’s largest businesses culpable for 71% of all emissions since 1988. However, it is not just big businesses that are guilty of unsustainable practices. Research from 2017 found that only one in 10 UK-based SMB’s believed they had reduced energy consumption in the previous year, and 60% of British SMB owners interviewed in 2016 didn’t consider energy efficiency in the workplace as a key priority.
With the well-documented perils of unsustainable energy use, it’s more important than ever that businesses take measures to reduce their carbon footprints. Small businesses can make a huge difference to the planet’s predicament by making changes to how they’re run. For example, by simply switching from laser to inkjet printers you could contribute massively toward saving energy. If every business in the UK did this, they would save enough power to run over 60,000 houses.
Not only are these measures beneficial for the planet, but research suggests the members of the public are more willing to buy from companies that are environmentally friendly. Becoming a sustainable business is about more than making one or two changes here and there, however. To make your company truly sustainable, the environment should be at the center of your business model.
Here are a few surefire ways that you can make your business a green company.
Rethink your vehicle use
Around 15% of global greenhouse emissions come from transportation. This makes reducing your own business’ vehicle emissions an obvious area to target in order to become more sustainable, especially if you have a considerable fleet of vehicles. One of the easiest ways that you can do so is through green fleet management software, as this can help you cut your vehicles’ fuel usage and reduce the amount of CO2 they emit. Logistics Company Bibby Distribution slashed their CO2 emissions by 11% by using this technology.
One way this technology can help is through monitoring inefficient driver behavior like speeding, harsh braking, and engine idling. This behavior can cause the amount of fuel drivers use to skyrocket. As Movolytics note on their page on green fleet management, a fleet tracking system provides live prompts to drivers to encourage them to correct their performance. This in turn helps them to reduce their fuel use.
Encouraging employees to use public transport instead of driving to work will also reduce vehicle emissions. An effective way of motivating them to do so would be to reduce the cost of tickets. This could make a huge difference, as public transport causes less pollution than cars and is also an excellent employee perk, meaning you both help the environment and help keep your staff happy in one fell swoop.
Move your operations to the cloud
By having all of your data stored physically onsite, you needlessly use up vast amounts of electricity on running servers every single day. If multiple businesses used the same servers instead of each one using their own, a huge amount of energy could be saved. Cloud-based applications like Apple iCloud and Microsoft Office 365 make this a reality, allowing you store all of your data virtually, cutting the amount of electricity you use and reducing your carbon footprint.
One study found that a typical food and beverage company could slash their CO2 emissions by 30,000 metric tons over five years just by moving their HR application from an internal IT server room to the cloud. Whilst cloud servers will also use up a significant amount of energy, they are continually monitored so that they are efficient as possible.
The virtualization of much of your computer system will also reduce the amount of e-waste you create whenever these resources need replacing. Although businesses have a duty to recycle e-waste, currently only 12.5% is recycled worldwide. Many electronic devices are not designed to be easily recycled, as they contain materials such as lead and mercury. These are highly dangerous and can only be discarded, creating even more waste. Reducing the number of electronic devices, you use will make your business much more sustainable.
Moving to the cloud also almost entirely eradicates the need for hard-copy printing of documents, saving paper in the process. There a number of useful guides that can help you kickstart the process of moving to the cloud.
Practice sustainable procurement
Another great way to make your business more environmentally friendly is to practice sustainable procurement. This entails sourcing goods and services that are produced and carried out sustainably. Sustainable procurement entails a whole host of considerations, including that goods purchased:
- are recyclable and are made from recycled materials
- do not contain toxic materials
- do not use excessive packaging
You should therefore think carefully about the suppliers you use and make sure, like you, they are committed to sustainable practices. You can also practice sustainable procurement by acquiring goods from local businesses, as this will reduce the greenhouse gases that will be emitted in the process of transporting them to you. This is another great way to back up claims that you are a green company.
Get an energy audit of your office
Getting an evaluation of how energy efficient your office is can unearth the ways that you may be wasting energy. An energy audit is typically carried out by a walk-through assessment of your workplace and by analyzing your energy bills. The auditor will then outline energy conservation measures that you can implement to reduce your office’s carbon footprint, allowing you to move forward in a more sustainable manner. This may consist of simple measures like reducing water usage or turning off your electricity more regularly. Or it could be more expansive, such as adding energy efficient components to your office like motion sensors for lighting systems and variable speed fans.
With many businesses around the world are not placing anywhere near enough importance on being sustainable, it is imperative that your own business does as much as it can to go green. Follow these tips to improve your credentials as a sustainable business — and help to save the planet.