We may think that by being smaller businesses we do not have that big an impact on the UK’s overall carbon emissions. We would be wrong. Reducing your company’s carbon footprint will make a difference.
“Smaller businesses account for around half of all greenhouse gas emissions emitted by all UK businesses…and almost a third of all current UK emissions.”
~ British Business Bank Survey Oct, 2021
It is similar to how we think that as individuals we don’t have that big an impact. We’re just one person, we’re just a small business- what difference can I/we make?
Well, according to those statistics, it turns out quite a lot.
Collectively, we have the power to lower the UK’s total carbon emissions by almost a third. But it can be overwhelming and it can also feel like a sacrifice.
Thankfully, not all changes need to be costly or require a lot of effort.
In this post, we provide you with 5 easy ways you can reduce your carbon footprint at work that you can action today. Minimal effort required.
Why is Reducing Your Company’s Carbon Footprint Important?
For the health of the planet, of course. No planet, no business.
But in the immediate term, going green also benefits your business in the following ways:
- more attractive to your customers who are increasingly looking for businesses that act more sustainably
- It’s better for everyone in the company. Being more environmentally-minded has been shown to increase employee morale, be more attractive to job seekers and more likely retain those hired. A happy workplace is a more efficient and productive workplace.
- The bottom line. Yes, some moves to being more sustainable can be more expensive, but usually they’re only temporarily more expensive and your investment evens out or is actually better for your cash flow long term. Especially when you consider that you may attract more customers by having sustainable practices.
“The climate crisis is caused by us, and the solutions must come from us. There is a cost to everything ,but the biggest cost is doing nothing.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York, 2019
We tend to know a lot of ways to reduce our carbon footprint but we also tend to overlook the easy wins and even when we know the easy wins, we don’t actually do them.
This is why we wanted to list these easy wins. You can start small and work up to the bigger commitments when you see the benefits these small changes have made.
5 Easy and Actionable Ways to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint
1. Look to your inventory and appliances
First things first, don’t throw anything out to start this process. Use what you already have until it has naturally come to its end. For example, if you have single-use cups that you use for parties, use them until they are done.
In the meantime, start looking at everything you use on a daily basis- pens, paper, staples, furniture, desktops, laptops, photocopiers etc. Start choosing your preferred eco alternative to what you already use. You can draw up what you’ll get next. If you want to get more people involved, assign each one to a different person for them to research and decide what is the best option.
For stationary, there will almost certainly be other options right down to who you get your supplies from. Have a chat and see if there are any companies out there that make sure to decarbonise their supply chain as much as possible. Stationary doesn’t take up too much space so buy in bulk so less journeys are made, less packaging is used and it is also cheaper for you.
For appliances or machines, have a look at their energy efficiency rating. If a microwave, kettle or photocopier is on its last legs, make sure to replace it with another of high quality and the best energy efficiency rating possible. Yes, this may seem more expensive in the short term but over time the energy saved and the longevity of having a better quality machine will pay you back.
2. Turn off
Speaking of appliances and machines, turn them off when not in use overnight. No machine takes so long to load up again after being turned off these days that it’s unbearable to wait. Your computer will be ready by the time you get a cup of coffee so best to just save the energy and money by turning everything off at the end of the day. During the day, have them on power-saving settings. Your electrical items will also last longer if they’re not constantly running. According to Optimal Monitoring you could reduce the running cost of a single computer from £45 a year to under £10 by switching it off at night and using power-saving features.
3. Have fun with it- No Meat for a Week, company wide boot sales, charity drives, you decide
Everyone in the team can spur each other on in positive progress. We’re more likely to achieve our goals if we work together- the social pressure is too much! We’re also more likely to do something if it’s fun. Set challenges together. It could be for everyone to not have meat for a week or just Meatless Mondays. Or hold company wide boot sales for unwanted items. Put it to the floor to come up with ideas that everyone can get behind and enjoy. You can sure have some fun along the way.
4. How does everyone take their tea/coffee/water and lunch?
Look to the food and drink that everyone consumes at the office. Do you provide a green way for people to have their tea, coffee and lunch? It might be time to think about the waste and electricity involved. For example, maybe you have a coffee machine that uses a pod for every drink- is there an alternative that doesn’t produce as much waste? Can the coffee grounds be put into compost or used for the office plants? If you provide tea bags, what are they made of? Could you switch to loose tea or make sure you buy tea bags that are organic and compostable?
5. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
An oldie but a goodie. At the heart of all sustainability efforts are the 4 Rs. Utilise this classic in the order that is stated. Refuse to have any single-use item in the workplace, you’ll automatically reduce what you use by doing this but if it must be used then consider reducing how much is needed or the best eco-alternative. Then get creative, can anything be reused in a different way? Can that soup pot be used for keeping pencils in? Or can you take it home to put your homemade soup in next time? Lastly, recycle. By now, all offices should have recycling bins, just make sure everyone knows how to use them by properly labelling them.
The key takeaway here is to just start. Choose just one option to start reducing your company’s carbon footprint, see the benefits, then implement another. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming, and it doesn’t need to require much effort or change in behaviour to make a difference. With 85% of people up for taking action to help combat climate change, you can get everyone involved and enjoying the process. Present this list and let it inspire new ideas that will work for your business.
Remember the best way is to start small rather than not at all.
Share this article with your colleagues/employer, get your company talking about it. We’d love to hear from you what’s working.