Business First | 7 Ways To Reduce The Environmental Impact Of Your…

7 Ways To Reduce The Environmental Impact Of Your Business

05 Jun 2022 –– Tips & Advice

We've come up with 7 ways your business can make a real difference to the planet's future.

World Environment Day is celebrated across the globe on 5 June and is the most significant international day for the environment. With over 150 countries participating, this UN international day engages governments, businesses, civil society, schools, celebrities, cities and communities, raising awareness and celebrating environmental action.

1. Cancel meetings

Communication is excellent, and sometimes a meeting achieves so much more than just a phone call. But how many of us have sat through pointless meetings or travelled a long way only to sit down for half an hour and then get back on the road? Cancelling unnecessary appointments will reduce the pollution caused by multiple journeys and save you time and money. A significant proportion of the meetings held by many companies are unnecessary, and more innovative working is crucial to improve productivity and help the planet.

Even if your business encourages train travel over car journeys, this can still cause massive amounts of pollution (not to mention the hefty cost of train fares). Skype meetings, video conferencing, Google Hangouts – nowadays, there's no excuse to stick rigidly to the old fashioned style of face to face meetings. Use the technology you probably already have to reduce your environmental impact. You'll quickly find yourself saving your business time and money to boot.

2. Eat less meat

Adopting a more plant-based diet is the single biggest way you, as an individual, can make a difference in the environment. Research has revealed that our meat consumption has accelerated climate change, pollution and mass extinction of wildlife at an alarming rate. More than 80% of our farmland is used for meat and dairy production, yet they only make up 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein. Methane emissions from meat and dairy farms and deforestation create as many greenhouse gas emissions as all of the world's cars, trucks, and aeroplanes.

Joseph Poore, a scientist from the University of Oxford, said: "A vegan diet is probably the single most significant way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car (which only cuts greenhouse gas emissions). But how can businesses play a role in reducing meat consumption among their employees? Many companies regularly order catering for meetings or buffet lunches for staff. Next time you place an order, consider whether you could request a plant-based platter or reduce the number of meat-based sandwiches and snacks provided for employees. Although you may experience some resistance from die-hard carnivores, you will probably find that many staff members will be open-minded about the change.

Suppose you provide milk for staff teas and coffees. Why not stock up on some plant-based alternatives to cow's milk like soya, oat or coconut milk and encourage your team to try something different? You could potentially inspire significant change in your workplace and beyond by opening up these conversations.

3. Encourage flexible working

The daily commute is a massive polluter for millions of us, so is it necessary for everyone to work out of the office every day? Adopting a more flexible approach to modern working is a great way to reduce your business's environmental impact and cut your company's carbon footprint. And the benefits don't end there. Flexible working whether it's in office space or hotdesking, boosts morale, increases productivity and saves you money, too. Most flexible workers find themselves far more productive when working from home, so it's a fantastic boost to your business output.

4. Use local resources

Every business needs specific resources to run smoothly and make money. Your business's resources will vary massively depending on what you do and how you do it. Still, chances are you can source most of the products and services you need close to home. Doing this will cut down your business's carbon footprint considerably, as you will no longer be responsible for endless long courier journeys across the country. Build relationships with local suppliers, and you can work together to minimise the number of deliveries to your businesses. This will help you reduce your harmful impact on the planet and save you money and become a far more convenient solution for your business.

Plus, by developing great relationships with local firms, you will likely support smaller business owners in your area and boost your local economy. If you can source it nearby, why look elsewhere?

5. Invest in green energy

Green energy sources like solar panels are a fantastic investment for your business. They enable you to cut (or even eliminate) your business's electricity bill and enjoy free, clean electricity during daylight hours. Solar panels are low maintenance and work throughout daylight hours, even if it's cloudy. The benefits of solar power for businesses are matched by the significant impact green energy has on the environment. Solar panels have zero emissions, so installing solar panels on your business premises reduces your carbon footprint considerably. Solar power doesn't need water compared to traditional fossil fuels, which use thousands of litres of water in cooling, refining, and transporting fuel to the end-user. As water is such a vital natural resource, any form of energy which slashes water consumption comes with enormous eco-friendly credentials. The benefits don't end there - solar panels also help reduce air pollution. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy does not emit carbon dioxide and methane gases into the atmosphere, damaging the quality of the air we breathe and our health. When you install solar panels on your business premises, you can enjoy cleaner air and fewer toxic emissions.

6. Promote green commutes

The 'Cycle to Work' scheme is a great way to encourage your workforce to opt for a greener commute. Make sure your premises is set up for cyclists by fitting bicycle storage and cycle hoops. Large corporations like Pfizer offer incentives to encourage greener commutes – they offered £5 a day to staff who got to and from work by any means other than a solo car trip. And while this does involve an investment on your part, it can lead to a more ecologically responsible workforce, ease congested car parks and reduce pollution. Car shares are an excellent way to minimise the pollution caused by vehicle traffic by reducing the number of cars on the road each morning and easing traffic. Set up a car share programme in your workplace and encourage employees who live in similar areas to pool their resources and share their morning and evening commute.

7. Go paperless

Many of us are still guilty of printing off way too much paper. Meeting rooms across the country can still be littered with printed agendas, handouts, visuals and more despite ongoing efforts among some staff members to use less paper. Thanks to many technological advancements, it is far easier than ever to change to a paper-free office environment.

Look into cloud-based applications, digital document signing, and scanning in any paperwork which isn't available digitally. It may take an initial investment into laptops, tablets, and software, but the savings will soon surpass this when you see a dramatic reduction in the costs you paid out for printing, paper, shredding, and waste disposal.

What are the benefits for businesses adopting environmentally friendly measures?

Why should businesses go green? What's in it for business owners who invest in environmentally friendly measures? Being an environmentally friendly business has many different benefits. Helping the planet and reducing your environmental impact is an obvious (and substantial) benefit of going green. But it's not the only one. Environmentally friendly businesses create a healthy and happy work environment and boost their reputation within the local business community and industry. Going green also pays dividends to your bottom line, too, as adopting environmental measures for your business can cut costs and help you to save money across many different parts of the company. For example, certain environmental measures you can adopt for your business could even lead to tax benefits if you invest in hybrid or electric cars for your business vehicle fleet. We're sure you're not one to boast, but promoting your environmental credentials can do wonders for your PR and give your customers a warm fuzzy feeling about you and your company. Being ecologically responsible can generate higher customer retention rates and encourage a great deal of customer loyalty.