How to make your business more environmentally friendly – and why it makes commercial sense
It’s not just about new technology: reducing waste, changing the behaviours of your staff and considering who you do business with are all ways that your business can become more environmentally friendly and improve your green credentials. And making these changes doesn't just improve your carbon footprint, but can benefit your business as well.
You only have to look at government policy and consumer chatter to see that the climate emergency is now high on most people’s agendas. In June 2019, the UK became the first major economy to pass a law on net zero emissions by 2050. And our own research revealed more than half of Britons believe we, as a nation, aren’t doing enough to tackle our impact on the planet, with around a quarter of people saying it’s the responsibility of business.
Why is sustainability important in business and for business?
Improving sustainability can lead to a reduction in your energy usage, which leads to lower energy costs. At the same time the positives extend to the environment, which will see the benefit of a reduced carbon footprint. Adopting a business sustainability model to become more environmentally friendly can lead to commercial success, future proofing and contribution towards a sustainably society.
How can you improve your business sustainability?
So what are your options for improving the green credentials of your business? The good news is that there is plenty you can do, some of it quick and easy, other activities may take longer and require investment in time and money, but whatever you as an individual organisation seek to do, multiplied up and down the country it can have a significant impact.
We set an example for others to follow by extending our 100% renewables-backed electricity offer to small business customers, allowing them to join our residential customers who we already provided with electricity backed by 100% renewable sources as standard*. Eligible small business customers can take advantage of this at no extra cost when they agree a new deal with us.
Reduce consumption, and not just of energy
It may seem obvious, but a sure-fire way of reducing your impact on the environment is ensuring your employees only use the energy and other resources each day that they really need to.
When people finish work for the day ensure all unnecessary lights and computers are turned off
Consider whether you really need to print documents, and print as standard on both sides and in black and white
Do away with single-use plastic cups by providing reusable cups or mugs or encouraging staff to bring in their own
Offer your customers more sustainable options, such as a discount for reusing packaging
Fewer miles, greener miles
Increasing your team’s green thinking before they even arrive at work can help reduce your business’ overall carbon footprint
Consider setting up a cycle to work scheme and take advantage of exemptions that allow employers to provide bikes and equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit
Make use of video conferencing or even an ordinary phone to cut down on trips for face-to-face meetings
Car sharing could reduce your carbon footprint, and can be encouraged by introducing dedicated car sharing parking spaces
Consider who you do business with
In everyday life, we make friends and surround ourselves with people with whom we share common interests and values, so why would you do business any differently?
It makes sense to align your business with others that share your standards and policies and it adds credibility to your sustainability goals. When looking at business partners or suppliers, ask yourself:
Do their environmental values and goals complement yours?
Do the services they offer align with the needs of your business and your customers?
Is there anything about the relationship you can include in your marketing that will resonate with your customers and perhaps attract more?
Waste not want not
Government data estimated that in 2016 over 18% of total waste was generated by commercial and industrial organisations.
If you don’t already have a recycling scheme, a simple way to reduce your business’ environmental impact is to introduce one. Just as at home, the most important consideration is to have clearly visible, well-marked recycling bins around the workplace and in any breakout rooms. The easier it is for your employees to recycle their waste, the more likely they are to do it.
You should also make sure you communicate the changes to employees, including what the benefits are for both your business and the environment.
Whatever action you choose to take, get your staff involved in your environmental goals, encourage them to come up with their own ideas on how your business can be greener, allow them the time and resources to contribute and recognise their efforts.
*Electricity sourced from E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates. The electricity supplied to homes and businesses comes from the National Grid. Eligible customers include SMEs who are fed by a non-half hourly meter agreeing a Fixed Business Plan directly with E.ON.