There has been much talk of late about what we can do on an individual level to be more environmentally-friendly. Suggests for individuals include eating less meat, carpooling or catching public transport to work, flying less and stopping using single-use plastics.
You may be among the many people who are making these important changes in your personal life, but what about on a business level? Businesses can have great environmental impacts, and therefore by making some simple changes they too can have a positive impact on the environment (or reduce the negative impacts).
Let’s take a look at some easy ways to make your business more environmentally-friendly.
1. Shrink Your Business’ Carbon Footprint
With global warming reaching crisis levels, it is the responsibility of everyone – governments, individuals and businesses – to reduce their carbon footprint and lessen their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Certain types of businesses (industrial and manufacturing for example) have much high carbon footprints, however all companies are responsible for some level of emissions. Start by thinking about all of the activities of your business including the services you use, and the carbon footprint these generate. How much energy to you use in lighting and heating? How many emissions are caused by company-related travel? Do the supplies you purchase – from lunches to printer paper – come from the other side of the world, producing emissions in shipping?
You’re already getting a picture of the kinds of carbon generating activities of businesses, and how these might be reduced by taking a more environmentally-friendly approach to the same issue. You can reduce your company’s energy use by installing energy efficient lighting, turning off lights when not in use (automatic sensors can help to make sure this happens), doing the same for computers and office equipment and making heating and cooling more efficient through better insulation and using energy efficient air-conditioning systems. You can also review your business’ travel, swapping flying with more carbon-friendly methods such as trains (or replacing the travel entirely through virtual meetings wherever possible) and review your supply procedures to acquire goods with the lowest possible carbon footprint.
2. Reduce Your Company’s Water Consumption
Most businesses use a great deal of water, even if water use isn’t a core part of the production process. Globally over half of all human water consumption is by businesses and organisations: this means that companies have the opportunity to make a big difference by reducing their water usage. Not only will this help the environment, it will show your customers that you are eco-conscious (a big plus for many) and this can also represent great savings for your bottom line – after all, water usage can be a big cost!
PHS helps business to reduce their water consumption, and the key first step is to assess the company’s current water consumption, and in particular identify the areas where they are wasting water. These are the areas which represent the most potential to make changes which will save on water use. If your business premises or site is larger, you can install multiple meters to see where you are using the most water. Other areas where you may be able to cut water use include switching plants in your landscaping for those which need less water, replacing toilets and bathroom and kitchen taps for low-flow ones, and reclaiming waste water for use in air-conditioning or irrigation systems.
It is also a good idea to set specific goals for your water footprint – this could be something like reducing your businesses monthly water use by x amount, or cutting water use in a particular area – and then measure your progress towards these goals.
3. Eliminate (As Much As Possible) Single-Use Plastics
Plastic pollution, especially marine plastic pollution, is another environmental disaster which is reaching crisis levels. In 2015, 322 million metric tons of plastic was produced, with much of this ending up polluting our land and waterways. Reports tell us that 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute. Luckily, this is also an area where businesses can make easy changes which will have a big impact. And no, it’s not enough to have a recycling bin in the corner of the office! Recycling is not sufficient to stop the ever-growing mountain of plastic waste plaguing our planet, so the key is to reduce the use of single-use plastics in the first place.
As with greenhouse gas emissions and water wastage, start by taking inventory of your businesses current single-use plastic usage: do your supplies arrive in plastic or Styrofoam packaging? If so, contact your suppliers and ask them to supply with the absolute minimum packaging. Even better, switch to suppliers who use eco-friendly packaging only. When you hold events, make sure to use reusable food containers, serving dishes and other items. You can also encourage your staff to use reusable bags, coffee cups and food containers when bringing their lunch to work.
By taking stock of your business’ current impact on the environment, and taking simple yet dedicated action to reduce it, you will not only be helping the planet, your business will also appeal to more customers, and even save money on power and water expenses!