All businesses must comply with certain environmental regulations, however if you are based in an office the requirements are minimal. That being said, as creators and innovators, we believe that entrepreneurs are responsible for doing more than just the necessary in order to sustain this incredible planet we live on.
For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of 3 quick fixes to help your business reduce its impact on the environment:
Reduce and recycle
This may sound obvious, but the Keep Britain Tidy campaign estimates that millions of materials that could be recycled are being thrown away every day. A 2008 report conducted by Envirowise showed that around 70% of office waste could be recycled, but a mere 7.5% actually arrives at a recycling centre. You may have experienced companies who have recycling infrastructure in place that isn’t being used properly, or perhaps none at all. But what can you do about it? It may sound incredibly simple, but it’s all about education.
Make your staff aware of exactly what products can and cannot be recycled. For example, did you know that most local authorities don’t accept ‘scrunchy’ plastic because it breaks their machines? (food wrappers, plastic bags). Simple facts like these can be shared by holding a compulsory training session for your staff. Once all employees are aware, ensure you have clearly labelled paper, food and plastic recycling bins, and that their use is monitored.
It’s also important to encourage a reduction mentality. Paper waste accounts for 24% of total UK waste and with our increasing use of personal computers, printed reports and other documentation is often unnecessary. If you’re considering going paperless, check out this useful article on how small businesses can achieve a paper-free office.
And what does this all achieve? According to a Guardian article on office waste, one tonne of recycled paper can save 7,000 gallons of water, 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space and 4,000 kilowatts of energy. There can be no doubt that it is worth doing, but it is a sad truth that many companies are not properly enforcing recycling. Be the change you want to see in the world, and act now!
Cut down your energy use
Employee comfort is key, but so is monitoring your use of resources! In fact, energy use often accounts for up to 50% of a company’s carbon footprint. Thankfully, there are many ways you can cut down. Ensure air-con is only switched on when the temperature is above 24 °C, and that heating is only used when people are in the office.
For more quick fixes, consider turning off monitors when they’re not in use and shutting doors and windows to retain heat. Low-energy lighting can also be incredibly beneficial. There are plenty of things you can do, and this useful checklist created by Business Wales will help you to cut down on energy costs and minimise your environmental impact.
Create an environmental strategy
With more and more companies going green, customers are beginning to expect a clear environmental commitment from companies. Businesses such as Reformation publish quarterly sustainability reports and have become known for their ethical approach to the fashion industry. Nominate a senior member of staff to be your head-of environment, and ensure they have a set period of time each month to promote and carry out any environmental initiatives.
Ensure sustainability is considered in all you do, make it part of your business strategy so you have clear targets and can report on your company’s impact regularly. This will ensure it stays at the forefront of your company’s ethos. Consider any offsets you can put in place to replace any resources you’ve used. Reformation’s sustainability page is a source of inspiration for us on this, so be sure to check it out here.
For even more tips and tricks, take a look at this article that looks specifically at ways small businesses can minimise their carbon footprint.
And if you feel you’re too small to make a difference? Remember this quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Until next time!
For more tips and advice, check out Recyclenow.com