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Making a difference: How to reduce the environmental impact of your business

by office kind

Back in 2019, the UK government became the first developed economy to commit to the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Getting to that point as a country takes all of us, every individual, every business, but there is often a knowledge gap between the policy makers and the everyday shopper, seller, or manufacturer – and many will not know where to begin. So we’ve written this handy guide to kickstart your journey to a greener 2021.

Starting Off

Before you can even begin to outline the steps that are needed, you should first look within your business to identify how you are impacting the environment. A simple way to do this is by calculating your carbon footprint, this will give an overview as to how much greenhouse gas your company is producing. You can then dig down into your daily processes and identify any areas that you think may be consuming the most energy, or causing more emissions and then begin to set targets and explore ways of reducing those excesses. Are you using more electricity than you would like? Consider switching off more appliances at the end of the day. Start with small, doable goals – these will build up over time to bring your net consumption down. When it comes to awareness, try to find handy articles (like this one!) to share amongst employees and colleagues.

Commuting and polluting

When getting to and from work, or travelling to meetings and events, the last thing we think about is our contribution to emissions, our main concern is getting there on time. Sure, flying out of the country for an exhibition or conference is exciting, but we’re living in the era of Zoom, perhaps reconsider long-distance travel and instead opt for long-distance video calls. Yes, you’ve got a flashy new company car, but why suffer rush hour traffic and petrol costs if you can cycle, bus or train to work just as easily? Many employers are implementing cycle-to-work schemes, carpooling, or even subsidising public transport for employees and providing charging ports for EV’s to encourage employees to cut down on car usage or make the switch to electric and hybrid vehicles.

What a waste!

Waste reduction is a great place to start, and is relatively inexpensive and can even save a business money, by cutting down on unneeded purchases. If you haven’t already, consider having more recycling bins available to your staff, many businesses already have paper recycling bins, however consider the multitude of other materials, like plastic, metal or glass items that you might not currently have a dedicated bin for. Did you know only 9% of plastic is recycled? Consider a move away from plastic-based items to wood or paper derivatives. Another way of cutting down on waste is by purchasing re-recycled products, for example – pens made from bottles, pencils made from wood chippings. Today there are also a variety of ink cartridges and toners that are made from remanufactured or refilled cartridges, so there is no excess plastic being produced. In case you were wondering – we sell all of this!

The Energy Effect

All modern businesses rely on some form of energy, electric or otherwise, to function. It’s something we take for granted but is also an important variable to control for both sustainability and cost reasons. Many businesses don’t know how much energy they use, so many struggle to save or reduce consumption. For many it can be as easy as switching off lights and appliances when not in use or installing newer more efficient lights to reduce the amount of power usage. You can take an even more radical approach, perhaps consider switching to a carbon neutral or completely green energy provider, the costs of which are decreasing as economies shift towards mainstreaming solar, wind or hydroelectric energy sources, making them more accessible and affordable to small and medium businesses.

Change the chain

Invariably some element of a business’ carbon footprint will come from their supply chain, with external providers all contributing to emissions or waste. This is why you should consider researching your suppliers and providers to see what they are doing to cut or mitigate their carbon footprint, we are seeing more and more electric-powered delivery vehicles for example. It is worth asking suppliers if they hold any eco-credentials such as ISO 14001, or asking them if they themselves are following any of the steps we have discussed above. If you find that you aren’t happy with what they are doing, or aren’t making any changes – consider switching to a more environmentally conscious choice – for example – OfficeKind!

It takes all of us to alter the impact our businesses are having on our environment, so we hope you found this guide a useful entry into how you can make a difference. To find out about our environmental credentials, and how we help our clients meet their sustainability goals contact us.