Going green is not just good for the environment, it can also be great for your business. With eco-consciousness growing amongst consumers and governments incentivizing sustainable business practices, any small business owner must create more sustainable business practices. This is why we've compiled this short guide to green business and sustainable practices.
There are several ways for your company to improve corporate sustainability:
1) Recycle Everything
While most companies have got the basics covered - recycling paper, batteries, and printer cartridges has become the norm - your business can go a step further and minimalize its environmental impact. Every time something would be thrown into a landfill, ask yourself if there may be someone else who could use it. For example, local schools or colleges might take old equipment, artists might have a creative idea for your old photocopier, and charity shops are often grateful for old furniture.
2) Banish Paper
Most modern companies are working digitally. However, in some sectors, the use of paper is still more prevalent. Banishing paper and solely working digitally is a great way for your business to help save natural resources. Encourage employees to take notes digitally and implement a 'PDF before paper' policy. If a handout is needed for a meeting, ask participants if it can be sent to them via e-mail and opened on computers or tablets instead of it being printed out. This will also help your company save money on paper and printing costs.
3) Embrace Smart Technology
If your company owns or rents premises, building upgrades can play a crucial role in implementing green practices. Consider installing smart meters and smart lighting - this will help your business save energy costs and make it more eco-friendly. There are also options without having to go for an expensive building upgrade - encourage your staff to use natural light in office spaces and not turn the lights on when they're not needed. You could also consider smart energy-efficient appliances or smart technology to help decrease your company's energy usage.
4) Plan for the Future
If you use vehicles that are forecast for replacement, consider a greener alternative. As a minimum, consider a better MPG and plan with government objectives to phase out petrol and diesel cars in mind. Opting for, for example, electric vehicles as company cars can reduce your impact on the environment. Reducing carbon emissions is one of the most crucial steps in saving our planet, so don't be late.
It's not only vehicles where you should go for sustainable development - whether it is a new server farm or building works, always ask your suppliers whether there is any way they can improve sustainability.
5) Window vs Air Con
There will always be disagreements between those favoring the breeze from an open window and those preferring the air con. Whichever one you opt for, do not mix the approaches, because you will inevitably increase wasteful energy consumption which is bad for the environment and bad for your wallet.
6) Let your staff have a voice
Your team is what makes your business great - so, listen to them and combat climate change together. The chances are you’ve got a least one member of staff who cares about the environment and knows a lot about decreasing a person's or company's carbon footprint. Capitalize on that! Let your staff decide what should be done and it’s one less thing for you to manage.
7) Decrease your reliance on natural resources
Any eco-friendly business has to look at how many natural resources it uses up. Decrease usage easily by using things like rainwater tanks or solar panels.
8) Reduce company travel
Sustainable business leaders have to encourage less or, at the very least, sustainable travel. Reduce travel to, for example, meetings or talks where it is not necessary and the events could be attended virtually with the same outcome. And, if travel is necessary, discourage your staff from using planes or cars and opt for trains. Similarly, you can create incentives for your employees to travel to work by bike or public transport.
9) Make your space green
Having plants in an office space can reduce harmful chemicals in indoor air. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release fresh oxygen into the air. Air-cleansing greenery is not only pleasant to look at, but can make your office space more eco-friendly.