Running a business in 2021 involves considerable challenges, with perhaps the biggest long-term difficulty being the impact of climate change.
Even small businesses have a part to play and can limit their impact on the environment by embracing sustainability. No matter what industry you’re in and the processes involved in the day-to-day running of your business, there’ll no doubt be changes you could implement within your organisation to make it more sustainable.
Here are some simple ways you could make your business more future-friendly and positively impact the world.
1. Measure and reduce your carbon footprint
What could your business do to go net-zero? The UK aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, so aligning your business’ sustainability goals with this overarching objective is a good place to start. The first step to understanding how far your business is from reaching carbon neutrality and what you can do to get there is to measure your carbon footprint using a carbon calculator.
Once you know what your carbon footprint is, you can start brainstorming ways to improve it. Consider what changes you could make to your business operations to reduce carbon emissions, such as partnering with a local supplier, switching to renewable energy or introducing a hybrid work model to cut down on employee commutes.
2. Make charitable contributions
If you’ve done all you can to reduce carbon emissions, you may consider offsetting those remaining by your business supporting sustainable reforestation projects. This is a way for your business to become completely carbon neutral and helps you make a bigger impact on the world. You may also choose to contribute to charitable causes through additional activities such as a community fundraiser or by committing to donating a percentage of your gross sales each year to an environmental partner you feel passionate about.
3. Get certified
If you really want to take sustainability seriously as a business, another step you could take is to obtain a green business certification. Getting officially certified as a green business shows your commitment to the environment, as you must meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance to become accredited. A certification such as Investors in the Environment or B Corp not only proves you’ve implemented sustainable practices within your business but ensures your organisation shows continued commitment to the planet in any future business decisions.
4. Reduce energy consumption
Is there more you could be doing within your business to reduce energy use? Whether your company is based in an office, store, factory, distribution centre or something else entirely, there are probably ways you could cut down on consumption. Firstly, make sure you have an up-to-date EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) for your premises, as this will give you an idea of your business’s energy efficiency and what you could do to improve it. You could also switch to a smart meter if you haven’t already, enabling you to monitor energy usage more easily and cut back where you can.
Some simple places to start are lighting, heating and electrical appliances — could you make more use of natural light, install LEDs or set timers for heating and air conditioning? Your business could also switch to a renewable energy supplier or even install its own renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines.
5. Waste reduction and management
Another key factor in any sustainability strategy should be the reduction and proper management of waste. Every business generates different types and amounts of waste, but regardless of what you produce, everyone in your business should be doing their utmost to reduce, reuse and recycle. If your business is in an industry such as manufacturing, food, medical or automotive, it’s essential to invest in the right waste management service to reduce your environmental impact. A trusted partner in total waste management will perform a waste audit of your business to identify areas for improvement and help you apply the waste hierarchy to become more resource-efficient.
6. Involve your employees
Small and large businesses alike should involve their employees in meeting sustainability goals and build their company culture around environmental awareness. This will inspire the people in your business to really care about your environmental targets and make positive changes in their own lives as well. Motivate and engage employees by asking for their input and encourage green initiatives such as zero-waste days and a cycle to work scheme. Make clear to employees that they all play a part in the sustainability of the company and celebrate your successes as a team.