What can your business do to reduce your environmental and climate impact?
Businesses will benefit from reducing their environmental impact and being more sustainable by:
- making cost savings from using resources more efficiently, such as cutting energy, water use and waste.
- accessing new markets by developing sustainable products and services.
- protecting reputation and credibility.
- being prepared for future changes and policies.
- attracting staff and improving morale – having a strong ethos of sustainability is increasingly important to employees.
Where can your business start?
You can improve your company’s emissions with small and large actions:
Take action on energy
- Improve your company’s energy efficiency
- Switch to cloud computing to significantly cut emissions from digital services
- Switch to a green energy supplier such as Green Energy UK who even provide 100% green gas.
- Consider installing renewable energy such as solar panels or heat pumps.
Promote plant-based diets
- Encourage staff to cut their consumption of meat and dairy – have vegetarian/vegan team lunches, take part in Good Food Oxford’s annual ‘Switch Up Your Lunch’
- Only provide vegetarian/vegan options when catering. Use caterers such as Waste2Taste who create delicious, sustainable meals from surplus food.
Bank for good
- Use the services of a sustainable and ethical bank such as Triodos Bank.
- Provide ethical funds for company pensions as the default.
- Improve your company’s water efficiency – see Waterwise for tips for businesses.
Engage to create change
- With suppliers – work to identify and reduce the carbon emissions of your business. Consider implementing a green procurement strategy.
- With customers – tell them about your sustainability actions and get feedback on ways they would like your services to be more environmentally-friendly.
- With other companies – to share ideas, find new markets, products and solutions. Consider joining Oxfordshire Greentech to be part of a business network that will advise on reducing carbon emissions.
- With staff – ask for their ideas about what the company should do, run internal campaigns to reduce waste and increase recycling.
- With your local community – support local climate and wildlife groups by allowing staff time off to volunteer.
- Reduce the need to travel – locate your business so it is accessible for public transport, consider allowing staff to work from home or using video conferencing for meetings.
- Promote sustainable travel – offer a cycle to work scheme, including providing bike racks and showers; convert company cars to electric ones, consider taking the train to European destinations, and keep flying to an absolute minimum.
- Move towards a ‘circular’ economy business model – explore opportunities for sharing, leasing, rental, remanufacturing, repair and take back.
- Aim for ‘zero waste to landfill’ – reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and follow the waste hierarchy.
- Move away from single use products – invest in glasses, mugs, crockery and cutlery in staff kitchens and catering. Minimise packaging and work with suppliers to reduce the packaging they deliver to you.
- Reduce paper – go paperless where possible, or consider using a sustainable printing service like Seacourt Ltd
Develop a sustainability strategy
This will help provide direction and a framework for achieving your sustainability goals.
- Conduct a survey on your carbon emissions and use this information to plan how to reduce your emissions.
- Take a look at Better Business’s tips, or see Corporate Citizenship’s guide.
- Check out Bioregional’s One Planet Living framework! Used by giants like Kingfisher, B&Q and Nandos, our framework helps businesses look at sustainability in an engaging, simple, and cost-effective way.
- One Planet Living mini toolkit for small and medium-sized organisations will help you create a One Planet Action Plan that embeds sustainability within your organisation.
- Consider becoming a B Corp, a business that balances purpose and profit. B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers’ community, and the environment.
- Work to achieve a recognised an international environmental standard such as ISO14001.