It is actually quite easy to reduce your business’ carbon footprint significantly. A few simple changes in the office don’t have to cost the earth to implement; it may take some getting used to but change is good for us all. Of course, you can seriously invest in cutting your business’ effect on the environment, which may seem expensive for the initial outlay but actually will save you money in the long term and more importantly reduce your environmental impact. Here are some ways given by Emma Evans from My Power on how to make your small business eco-friendly.
Reduce the use of paper. Let’s start with the obvious! Remember a decade ago when everyone was jumping on the bandwagon adding ‘do you really need to print this email’ to their email signatures, how annoying was that!? However, it is estimated that we still print 20% of emails unnecessarily. We all know we can reduce our paper consumption.
Consider a digital approach for marketing and communications like email marketing campaigns as opposed to letters, leaflets, and posters. Not only is it cheaper to email with no printing or postage costs – it’s quicker too! Emails arrive instantly and a study by Citi Post Mail found that direct mail has an average ROI of £7 to each £1 spent, whilst email has an average return of £38!
Don’t just stop at your marketing either. Send invoices and statements via email to your customers’ accounts departments and don’t print invoices which you receive. Simply save them on your accounting software so you’ve got a record.
Social media is another eco-friendly way to promote your business with no printing at all. It’s quick and easy to do and with 39 million UK users on social media spending an average 1 hour 48 minutes each day using it, what is your business missing out on? You can pay to advertise or just simply be active on social media, sharing relevant posts to your followers, providing offers, news and information on your company. And don’t forget those eco-friendly social media posts, promoting national holidays that are dedicated to Earth awareness or sharing your own tips on reducing a carbon footprint.
Reuse old technology
Consider using refurbished technology rather than buying brand new. Not only is it cheaper by 15-30%, it reduces your environmental impact considerably if the technology is recycled for reuse. If the technology has been refurbished by a reputable company it’s often as good as new and lasts the same amount of time. Make sure you still receive a warranty with any refurbished products.
Something else to consider is co-working space instead of your own office. Open plan offices save on lighting and heating usage as well as sharing facilities such as printers – No printing unnecessarily though of course!
Use the cloud
Explore cloud computing to keep all your files and documents in one place. Research has shown cloud adoption can cut energy use and carbon emissions by 30 to 60 percent in comparison to on-premise IT infrastructures. Having all your data stored in those fluffy clouds means you can access it anytime and from anywhere and it gives you more freedom if you ever want to move services or offices.
When replacing your office furniture it’s usually out with the old and in with the new. But before you do, check out companies who offer used office furniture. Often you can pick up furniture which has barely been used as a result of a new company spending big on the office layout before going bust. If you are replacing furniture, even if you think its past its best, pass it onto a charity and prevent it going to landfill.
Power your office with alternative energy, such as wind, solar, hydropower. Wind and hydropower may not be suitable for every office unless you own a lake or work on a hill where water and wind are plentiful. However, commercial solar panel systems are accessible to all businesses. Either rooftop solar or solar carports are options for companies who either own or rent their premises. For SME’s an average sized solar installation can help you avoid 16 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum. That’s the equivalent of planting 3.5 acres of woodland every year! As well as the huge environmental savings the financial gains are also very significant. An averaged sized commercial solar PV array (50kW) is projected to make total income and savings in excess of £260,000 over 25 years.
Recycling programmes in the office for plastic, paper, cardboard, packaging etc. is one of the easiest ways to be eco-friendly. Omitting your waste from landfill has significant environmental benefits. When paper decomposes in a landfill it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 23x more potent than carbon dioxide.
Locate recycling bins around the office to encourage all that can be recycled goes back into the circular economy. If you’re a business who generates a lot of cardboard, glass and/or plastic waste then using recycling machines, like a cardboard crushing machine, is an effective method to handle the waste. Balers and compactors save your company time, money and space as well as increasing your recycling. They stop the need to flat pack boxes when trying to make all your waste fit into the bin and they create a much tidier working environment.
The average commute to work in the UK is almost 10 miles each way. This daily commute to and from work is responsible for more than 98 percent of an employee’s work-related carbon footprint. Allow remote working to reduce each employee’s carbon footprint by decreasing the electricity consumption in your office and the use of vehicles (reducing their contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions).
Go green in the kitchen
If you are an office with a canteen or kitchen consider offering organic food which has been produced locally. Conventional farming fertilisers require high amounts of energy to produce. According to DEFRA, organic foods use 35% less energy per unit of production and organic dairies 74% less. Food waste bins for fruit peelings and teabags in coffee rooms make for great compost. If you have a garden/landscape space at your office, create a compost heap outside for the gardeners to use.
Swap the office lights to energy efficient light bulbs or LED lights. LED lighting in the office is a fantastic way to become more energy efficient and can reduce your energy usage and costs up to 80%. There are many reports of the other benefits offered by LED lighting such as an influence on human energy, mood, vitality and work performance.
Electric cars emit 50% less greenhouse gas than diesel. Changing your commercial fleet to hybrid or electric vehicles can create fuel savings of 6p or more per mile and is estimated 20-30% savings in service, maintenance and repair costs when compared to diesel or petrol vehicles. A 100% electric car costs on average around 3p per mile to drive, compared to around 9p per mile for an average diesel car.
Calculations by Defra suggests that UK businesses could benefit by up to £23 billion per year through low cost or no cost improvements in the efficient use of resources. Don’t forget to publish your environment report on how your company is reducing its carbon footprint for all your customers to see because it’s a great marketing tool.