If there was one thing that dominated the headlines over the course of the last year or so more than the Coronavirus pandemic, it was global warming. As much as the world’s attention was focused on the unprecedented issues created by COVID-19, which sent economies reeling, businesses into closure and the global population into lockdown, there was no escaping the fact that we are running out of time to slow, let alone reverse, the march of climate change.
There were startling images that showed just how big an impact we have on the natural world around us, such as the canals in Venice suddenly turning clear and allowing residents to actually observe fish in their waters. There were warnings from leaders on the issue, as the likes of Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough continued to fight for our attention. Finally, it seemed like global leaders and business owners were running out of ways to ignore the issue or postpone dealing with it.
If you own your own business, the chances are good that you will understand the importance of taking positive action and being a part of the solution. We are all looking for ways that we can do our part, and as someone with your level of responsibility, you may have the opportunity to do a little (or a lot) more than the average person. However, this is not as simple as making sure that you take your own shopping bag to the supermarket. Making sure that your business is environmentally friendly is something that requires creative thinking and a serious commitment. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Consider Waste Disposal
Let’s start with a relatively easy one. One of the simplest first steps that you can take towards making your business eco-friendlier is to consider how you dispose of waste. Your first port of call should be the office itself. Start by making sure that your employees have access to separate waste bins, with at least one recycling bin per floor. Encourage them to be conscientious about their rubbish. Then look at how you can start to minimise the amount of non-recyclable waste. If you have a coffee pod machine, for example, are you buying recyclable pods? Are you getting through an unnecessary amount of waste-paper? How much plastic and other waste packaging is your company getting through on a weekly basis, and what can you do to reduce that amount? If your business relies on a lot of shipping and delivery, then make sure that you are using recyclable packaging materials.
Finally, we need to talk about e-waste. The number of electronic devices that are simply being thrown away has led to an incredible amount of non-recyclable waste as laptops, cell phones and more end up in landfills. Before you dispose of any electronic devices, think carefully about whether you could donate them to local schools or charities.
Look For Eco-Friendly Machinery And Appliances
Upgrading your office equipment is never an easy decision to make because of the costs involved. Right now, as we are all trying to reduce spending, it is tempting to stick with what you have and wait for things to improve. But it is important to remember that newer machines will have a better energy efficiency rating than the older models that you are currently using. An office dishwasher, for example, or more likely your central heating and/or air conditioning systems could be using a tremendous amount of energy. Talk to your suppliers about how an upgrade could cut down on your business’ carbon emissions. You should also think about installing low-flow appliances in your company bathrooms and swapping out your old office light bulbs for LED ones. LED bulbs create far less waste energy, and they last much longer. These steps may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but they will add up.
Educate Yourself To Keep Building For The Future
One of the most important things that business owners can do is to educate themselves about just how much work and commitment this process is going to require. The steps that we have included here are important, but the scale of the crisis that we are facing cannot be overstated.
A climate change course will illustrate the challenges that every business will be facing as a result of global warming and how you can move your company towards net zero emissions. You will also learn about how other businesses have successfully managed the shift towards embracing low carbon initiatives. If you want to make sure that your business is still around in the years to come, having an awareness of and being prepared for the climate challenges that are coming are absolutely crucial. This course focuses on climate change and is an example of the kind of practical education that you will need.
Can You Abandon The Office?
While there are certainly a lot of things that you can do in the office to cut down on your business’ waste and carbon emissions, it is worth noting that saying goodbye to the office altogether could be a better solution. A year or two ago, this would have seemed like quite a big leap. Now, it is something that a lot of businesses are considering doing anyway, regardless of the environmental concerns. The uncertainty over restrictions lifting and the possibility of new variants has left a lot of business owners wondering whether it makes more sense to commit to a new normal where everyone works remotely. Meanwhile, studies have shown that an awful lot of workers would much rather continue working from home, at least for the time being.
So, what would giving up the office mean for your business’ carbon footprint? It would mean that you would almost certainly be cutting down on the amount of electricity being used by your business. No automatic lighting, no heating or cooling a large open plan office, no computers being left on overnight (unless your employees have a habit of doing that at home). It would also mean that no one is commuting in. You will be cutting out the exhaust fumes generated by your employees going to and from the office every day.
Invest In Green Initiatives
One of the best things that you can do in terms of making your business more environmentally responsible is to look outside of your own organisation for ways that you can help. Look for green initiatives that you can invest in, either in your local area or overseas. Talk to organisers in your area about how you can contribute your time and/or money towards benefiting the local environment. You should also think about involving your employees. The chances are that they are just as concerned as you are and will welcome the opportunity to actively contribute. This could also be an excellent way to foster team spirit and camaraderie at a time when so many of us have felt cut off and isolated. Make being green part of your brand identity to ensure that this is not the kind of thing that gets forgotten about after a couple of months of activity.
The process of reaching net zero is not something that will be completed overnight but it is likely the struggle that will define our generation. Keep looking for ways that you can do and be better, and keep looking to learn more.