10 Practical ways to be a Greener Business
Making your company more eco-friendly is not as hard as you might think. Read on for 10 practical ways to be a greener business and do your bit to fight climate change.
Climate change is happening at an alarming rate and people are paying attention to their impact on the environment. We all need to act now to make a difference and ensure our planet’s future. This applies not just to our home lives, but also to our work lives.
You might think it would be expensive to make your company environmentally friendly. But actually it’s easier than you think.
Everyone can do their bit, and small actions do count. It’s true that large scale changes will need intervention on an international scale. But let’s not forget that even the largest corporations are only made up of individuals.
Not only is it good for the environment to be eco-friendly, but employees and customers are increasingly aware and expectant of good practice.
In 2019, more than 70% of employees in a survey said that they were more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda. And nearly three-quarters of millennial workers said they’d be willing to accept a smaller salary to work for a company that’s environmentally responsible.
Ultimately, it’s good for the environment, good for your business reputation, and good for attracting and retaining employees.
With this in mind, here are 10 practical ways to be a greener business today…
1. Take part in the cycle to work scheme
The first one of our 10 practical ways to be a greener business is as simple as getting on a bike.
As part of the government’s scheme to incentivize people to cycle to work, they created the Cycle to Work schemes.
Not only is this good for the environment, but your employees will be healthier. Daily exercise reduces stress levels and improve happiness. So what are you waiting for?
The way the scheme works is that employees do not pay tax or national insurance on bikes and cycling equipment. This can save up to 42% of the cost. The amount to pay is then deducted from payslips over 12-18 months. All you have to do as an employer is join the scheme.
There are several companies which offer to manage this for you, such as cycle2work. This makes it easy for you as an employer to join the scheme and offer it to your employees.
Bikes and cycling equipment of up to any value, including E-Bikes are now covered by the scheme. This is as well as a broad selection of cycling accessories.
For more information for employers on how the scheme works, check out the government guidance.
2. Put a ban on disposable plastics around the office
Waste is one of the biggest problems for the environment. Every year the UK throws away a whopping 295 billion pieces of plastic. A really easy solution to this is to make your office a single plastic-free zone. No more disposable coffee cups, plastic bottles, and takeaway containers that get thrown in the bin. Instead, encourage employees to use reusable cups and bottles.
To succeed at the second of our 10 practical ways to be a greener business, think about putting a donation pot by the door. So every time someone does bring some disposable plastic they have to put in a pound – just like a swear jar! You can then donate the contents to a green charity or perhaps use it to invest in reusable cups and bottles for the team.
3. Meat free Mondays
According to the UN, the livestock sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems”, making up 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing the amount of meat in your diet is great for the environment and for health, reducing the likelihood of heart disease, cancer, and strokes.
Try doing one day a week in the office meat free. You could even organise a rota so colleagues take it in turns to bring tasty vegetarian snacks into the office. This is a fun way to get everyone involved and will inspire people to try new foods. There are plenty of resources and tasty recipes on the Meat Free Monday website.
Up for a challenge? How about the Veganuary workplace challenge? It has been calculated that one person eating a vegan diet for a month will save 124,900 litres of water, 84 square meters of forest and 273 kg of CO2 emissions. Imagine the positive impact of your whole company eating vegan for a month!
4. Recycle in the office
This is another simple one – check out what recycling is offered by the local council where your office is based and make sure that you have all the right bins. It’s also important to sort your recycling properly. If every employee takes responsibility for their own rubbish this won’t take any time at all!
Make sure you’re also recycling electronic items. Electronic waste such as laptops and monitors is difficult to dispose of and the parts inside can be particularly nasty for the environment. Recycling plants will have a special section to deal with electronic items, and sometimes electronic suppliers will even take back old items, making your life easier.
5. Replace old appliances with more efficient ones
Older appliances such as fridges and dishwashers are less efficient in their use of water and electricity, meaning they are adding significantly to your carbon footprint. Switching to a more-eco friendly newer model will be well worth the upfront cost in what it will save you in electricity bills, as well as being much better for the environment.
When you’re buying new appliances, make sure to check out their energy efficiency rating.
Also take a look at what light bulbs you’re using. LED light bulbs are over 4 times more efficient than normal bulbs, and need to be changed much less regularly, which means you’ll save money in the long term, and reduce carbon emissions.
6. Switch to a green energy provider
One of the easiest ways for your business to become greener is to switch to a green or renewable business energy tariff. Many energy suppliers offer green business energy tariffs, which means that some or all of the electricity you use is coming from renewable sources. This includes wind farms, solar farms, hydroelectric power stations and biomass.
Some suppliers, including Bulb, also offset carbon emissions from the gas they supply by supporting carbon reduction projects. Not only is switching to a green provider great for the environment and reducing your company’s carbon footprint, but it may also save you money as renewable energy often comes in at cheaper than fossil fuels.
Make sure to check what the percentage of electricity coming from renewable sources is, as this will vary from supplier to supplier.
If you work in a shared office space or co-working space, find out which energy provider they use and if they’ve considered going green. Some energy providers have strong incentives for referring new businesses, you may even earn some money!
7. Have an office-wide conversation about sustainability
If you want to effectively make your business greener, then you need to make sure you have the whole team on board. Having a discussion about climate change and the impact of our behaviour on the planet will help everyone to understand why making changes to act more sustainably is important.
Why not organise a coffee morning or evening drink to discuss the company’s approach to being eco-friendly?
Involving the whole team in discussions will make people feel involved and more invested in the switch to green. And you may even get some ideas you hadn’t thought of!
8. Host a fundraising event for a green charity
Why not host a bake sale, or a quiz night and give the profits to a green movement? This can be local or international, it’s a great way to increase your team’s awareness of sustainability and have fun.
9. Reduce your company’s carbon footprint
Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere as a result of your activities. Almost every activity in your life will have some carbon emissions associated, but some including flying, driving, eating red meat, and importing goods from distant countries are all particularly high in CO2 emissions.
To reduce your company’s carbon footprint, think about what carbon emitting activities could be avoided. For example, do your employees really need to fly around the world for meetings or could they be done over video call? Could you instate a work from home policy so that people aren’t commuting as much and using their car? Small changes like this will significantly reduce your company’s impact on the environment.
10. Become carbon positive
Inevitably, there will always be some CO2 emissions that can’t be avoided. Whether this is a flight or electricity, it is impossible to completely eliminate your carbon footprint.
The best way to deal with this is carbon offsetting. This means paying to support projects that reduce carbon emissions (such as planting trees or investing in renewable energy projects), so that your net carbon emissions are zero. This is called being carbon neutral.
But at Treepoints we would ask why stop at carbon neutral? Why not spend just a little bit more and become carbon positive? This means you’re actually having a positive impact on the planet and working towards a sustainable future.
We’ve covered 10 practical ways to be a greener business. Now you better get doing them to fight climate change.
To find out more about carbon offsetting for businesses, check out Treepoints’ straightforward plans and become a greener employer.