With the climate crisis getting more serious, turning a blind eye to science isn’t an option anymore. Individual action is vital, but beyond this, businesses hold a significant amount of power to undo some of the mistakes of our collective past.
Of course, this type of change in habits sounds expensive, inconvenient, and ineffective – but this doesn’t have to be the case. There are many steps that a business of any size can take to reduce its carbon footprint and cut costs substantially.
Whether it’s something as simple as establishing an in-house reward system for carpooling or a major change like undergoing infrastructural renovations, taking action is indisputably beneficial for both the planet and your business. The following simple steps are designed to help businesses create a greener future together:
Invest in the Environment
When it comes to climate action, it’s not just about money. However, if you can afford to part with a small portion of your business’s profits, then there are plenty of environmental schemes worth investing in.
For instance, joining an organization like One Percent for the Planet – where businesses pledge to give 1% of gross profits to environmental partners – doesn’t put a hole in your pocket. What it actually does is launch you into a collaboration with other eco-friendly companies while setting an example to others.
Climate actions come in all shapes and sizes. There are many that businesses can take that are simply a one-time decision, such as making a donation to an environmental charity or planting trees. There are also steps that businesses could (and should) take that require a more holistic rethinking of systems and mindsets.
Often this means spending a bit of time figuring out what impactful changes to make. This could be checking whether the products or services your company uses are eco-friendly and if not, switching to green providers.
Similarly, if you offer a pension scheme to employees, then divesting from fossil fuel companies and converting to ESG funds provides many advantages. For one, it benefits the environment as you’re taking money away from businesses that exploit the earth’s reserves of oil, gas, and coal, and investing in responsible, ethical companies instead. You’re also taking a public stand against the misuse of fossil fuels, which will appeal to prospective partners, employees, and customers.
Adapt to a New Way of Working
An increase in remote workers means that fewer people are commuting; therefore, there is less pollution. In fact, studies have shown that working from home half the week could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons per year. However, every business is different and not all can facilitate the work-from-home model. If this is the case, then it’s a good idea to encourage team members to use public transport, or better yet, offer a company bus service that takes them directly to work.
Some companies have a physical workspace while offering employees the option of working from home. Instead of keeping the office in its traditional state with fixed desks, convert to hotdesking, downsize to a smaller space, and save the company money on rent and energy bills. This kind of action is brimming with positives: business expenses drop, efficiency increases, and the planet is protected.
Whether transitioning to remote working is a possibility or not, exploring paperless software is a no-brainer for companies looking to minimize costs. Although some services come with subscription fees, all expenditures related to printing, posting, and physical storage vanish, day-to-day administrative tasks become streamlined, and carbon emissions decrease significantly.
Conserve Heat (and Money)
Filling loft space with insulation is the quickest, cheapest, and most energy-efficient environmental step any property owner can make. If your company uses a physical office, remember to get the ladder out and check the loft. This step is vital, especially if you’re located in a region with a chilly climate where there are only a few months in the year when central heating isn’t needed.
The beauty of fitting insulation is that it only requires a one-time fee and the building will always have a greater capacity to retain heat. This means that the heating in your office can be set at a lower temperature and for fewer hours each day than without insulation, keeping your wallet and the earth happy.
But if there’s no room left to insulate, it’s worth inspecting the doors and windows too. Any window gaps letting air in can be filled with draft-proofing strips, expanding foam, or any material lying around that will squeeze into the spaces. Moreover, using a wind stopper to block the draft coming in under the door can also make a surprisingly big difference. These types of changes are arguably the most satisfying because they’re relatively cheap to apply and yield instant results.
Keep Team Members Eco-Friendly
Successful companies are made up of busy people, so it’s not surprising that climate change prevention strategies are often overlooked. Still, everyone’s probably quietly thinking that more should be done but can’t find the time to address the problem. However, there is a simple yet effective solution that businesses can apply: assign one team member as an environment representative.
With a sense of ownership of the task and specific time allotted, this person can set out a roadmap of actions for the company to adopt. These may include some of the aforementioned changes or smaller steps like introducing reward schemes for cycling to work or carpooling.
It can even be as straightforward as only using recyclable coffee pods, or better yet, sticking with a standard drip coffee maker and gifting reusable cups to employees as part of their onboarding package. By doing so, your company will reduce plastic waste while boosting morale.
There’s no hard and fast rule for taking these eco-friendly actions. Some can be implemented almost overnight, while others are a long-term commitment – the key takeaway is to just make a start. When acting alone, stopping climate change in its tracks feels like an uphill battle; but with everyone making these changes together, we’re more than capable of winning the fight.