How my small enterprise can contribute to lowering local weather change

Originally written by Dan Matthews on Small Business

Businesses that protect the environment with lean, efficient operations enjoy a multitude of benefits. Most obvious among these is the warm feeling that comes with knowing you are making a positive contribution towards the battle against climate change.

But green businesses can also save money, improve brand reputation and even increase their chances of securing finance from lenders who are increasingly hawkish about portfolio businesses sustainability credentials.

So how can you ensure your business is as green as it can be? Here are 10 tips to get you started:

1] Make it easier to recycle

Most people recycle as a matter of course in their homes, but at work it’s all too often a different story. Placing a standard paper bin under every desk is a good way to encourage landfill waste, so work out how you can make recycling bins accessible to even your busiest employees.

Invest in clear labelling too; this helps them find the right bins for each piece of recycling and saves time.

2] Encourage low-carbon commuting

This can come in a number of forms, from a ride-to-work scheme to season ticket loans for public transport. If people must drive, consider ways to encourage car-pooling, perhaps with an incentive for people who save the most car journeys per month.

3] Get a smart meter

Smart meters are a brilliant way to save energy, protect the environment and keep a lid on your organisation’s cost base.

By tracking power use in near-real time, employees have more control over the energy consumed within your business. Set challenges to reduce the money everyone spends on energy each month and reward employees, perhaps using the money saved. Contact your energy supplier to find out about getting a smart meter for your small business.

4] Check the supply chain

Look at the businesses you buy from: are they environmentally friendly or major polluters? By comparing your supply chain with competitors in the same market, you’ll get a good picture of which firms follow best practice.

By re-evaluating suppliers along the lines of their green track record, as well as their process and customer service, you should be able to reduce your own business’ carbon footprint.

5] Improve communications in your business

The coronavirus pandemic forced all businesses to re-evaluate their communications technology, in many cases leading to investment in both hardware and software applications.

In future, these upgrades will come in useful to reduce the number of unnecessary in-person meetings. Instead of flying to that event in Geneva, could you just Zoom, Skype or Teams it?

6] Use gamification

Reducing waste and encouraging teamwork is a double win for any business. Create a competition to see which departments can cut their carbon footprint the most. By tapping into people’s natural competitive spirit, you could drive major changes throughout your organisation.

7] Listen to your people

You have probably read a lot about flat management structures, grass roots access to the boardroom and even upside-down performance reports. Perhaps you have instituted some of these practices in your own business.

But listening to your employees shouldn’t stop at executive-manager reports and reviews. People are passionate about ethical business practices, so make sure you listen to what they have to say.

Set up lines of communication, encourage ideas and suggestions and, most importantly, act on valuable suggestions. Don’t forget to acknowledge staff for doing good work in this area and make sure teams understand that you want them to contribute to the green debate.

8] Create an annual green campaign

Ask your staff which environmental targets they care about most and create a scheme to hit these goals. An annual campaign, created in December and rolled out the following year, is a great way to bind teams, build morale and encourage engagement at work.

It could be anything: banning single use plastics, increasing the proportion of staff who regularly cycle to work or a target to recycle old clothes. Whatever you pick, aim to build enthusiasm and inclusion towards your target.

9] Good old-fashioned litter picking

Community-spirited individuals have embarked on group litter picks for decades – but this kind of communal activity remains a great way to imbue people with a sense of purpose, while also gelling your teams around a common cause.

You could arrange semi-regular events and even consider giving people time off every year to devote to cleaning up the local environment.

10] Invest in IT

Modern technology is far more efficient than the desktops, servers and laptops on sale just a few years ago. Make sure energy performance is at the heart of your buying decisions and, of course, don’t forget to recycle your old equipment every time you upgrade.

Further reading

Merlin Griffiths: ‘We are creative, resilient, adaptable – this is hospitality!’

How to manage your businesses cash flow more efficiently 

Frequently asked questions about smart meters for small businesses

Business expenses: don’t guess if you don’t know the answer 

Using simple technology to improve my small business 

How my small business can contribute to reducing climate change

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