Alarming headlines and thought-provoking images captured while filming TV documentaries have contributed to increased global awareness of environmental issues. More and more of us are aware of the potential implications of our lifestyle habits, and we recognize that we can do more to protect the planet.
All over the world, households, businesses and government ministers are making changes to try and shield the natural world and embrace greener living. If you’re a business owner, and you’re keen to be part of the green revolution, this guide contains useful advice to help you make a difference.
Recycling and E-Cycling
Many organizations have been recycling materials such as paper, cardboard and glass for many years, but studies suggest that we’re still missing out on the opportunity to recycle millions of tons of waste every year. Company owners can promote and encourage recycling in several ways. One of the most impactful decisions you can make is reducing the amount of materials and products you buy and consume. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to non-recyclable items, but it can make a real difference with products made from recyclable substances, especially plastic. Some businesses have banned plastic water bottles and coffee cups, for example, while others are providing reusable cups and flasks for staff to use. Another significant step is providing boxes, bins and crates to make recycling easy and hassle-free. Introducing recycling policies and reminding members of staff about the benefits of recycling can also help.
In addition to recycling, businesses can also embrace the concept of e-cycling. This is a form of recycling dedicated to electronic waste, also known as e-waste. A report produced by Apple in 2016 revealed that 61 million lbs of the 90 million lbs of waste gathered through phone recycling programs were reusable. We are increasingly reliant on technology, and often, we throw away smartphones, TVs, monitors, computers and kitchen appliances without giving recycling a second thought. You might be inclined to think twice next time you’re updating your office tech given the amount of gold in a cell phone. Although the monetary value of gold in an average iPhone amounts to around $1.82, there are now more cell phones in the world than human beings, and more than 150 million phones are thrown away each year. It is estimated that this equates to more than $2 billion worth of gold. Electronic recycling reduces waste, it unlocks the potential to reuse materials and it can also generate funds for businesses.
Commuting and Remote Working
Many of us find ourselves in an unfamiliar situation at the moment. The COVID-19 crisis has prompted a shift towards home working, with millions of employees and self-employed workers currently based at home. Although, for many, this will be a temporary arrangement, it is possible that the lockdown may inspire company owners to embrace remote working and facilitate more flexible working arrangements for employees. For some, the experience of working at home will have been challenging, but for others, it might have actually been hugely positive. When you work from home, you have more control over your schedule, you can cut out commuting delays and costs, and you can enjoy a healthier work-life balance. One of the most significant environmental benefits of remote working is reducing the number of people who need to drive or use public transport to get to work. Traffic levels plummeted across the world’s largest and busiest cities in March, April and May, and many countries reported a significant decline in air pollution. It may not be possible to maintain a remote workforce, but it is beneficial for employers to analyze the impact of the lockdown and consider making changes in the future.
For those who have to travel to work, there are greener options available. As an employer, you can do your bit to help the planet by encouraging your employees to carpool and share lifts, to cycle or walk to work or to use public transport. Initiatives that actively promote cycling are already used by companies across the globe, and they can be instrumental in reducing the carbon footprint of the company. If you provide company cars, or you run a fleet of taxis, vans or trucks, it’s also wise to explore eco-friendly vehicles. The cost of buying may be higher than conventional vehicles, but the running costs will be much lower.
Running stores, offices, warehouses, factories, hotels, restaurants, salons, medical practices and legal, real estate and accounting firms requires a vast amount of energy. For many businesses, electricity bills account for a substantial portion of monthly expenses. While energy is essential for businesses across all sectors, sometimes, individuals, households and organizations use more energy than they need. This increases spending and it also has an impact on the environment. By being more energy-efficient, businesses can lower bills and protect the planet.
One of the simplest ways to make a difference is carrying out an energy audit. This will help you to establish how much energy you’re using per day and identify areas where you could potentially make savings. If you are still using old appliances, you haven’t switched to energy-efficient light bulbs yet, you tend to leave lights on when you don’t need to, or you’re using dated systems to heat and cool premises, updating technology and being more aware of your consumption can help. Modern technology is designed to reduce energy consumption and it can also speed up processes and operations and increase efficiency and productivity.
If you own business premises, for example, shops or offices, it’s also worth analyzing how much you spend on heating. If your bills are high, look into insulation options and fill in cracks and gaps in walls and door frames, which prevent heat retention.
Supporting Green Causes
A large proportion of business owners are keen to get involved with local, national and global causes and charitable initiatives. If you’re eager to go green, and you want to take steps to give back to the community and enhance your brand image, have you thought about supporting environmental organizations or projects? You could make a regular donation to a specific nonprofit, you could look into options like sponsoring animals or funding tree planting, or you could offer incentives to encourage people to make purchases and support a cause at the same time. If you sell shoes, for example, you could make a donation to a wildlife fund or a conservation project every time a customer buys a certain style or product. Offering customers the chance to back a cause can increase sales and set you apart from competitors.
Buying Products Made From Sustainable Materials
When you go shopping today, you can access information about where products have come from and what materials and ingredients they contain. This is incredibly useful information for people and business owners who are keen to go green. Buying sustainable products and procuring materials and supplies from eco-friendly manufacturers is a positive step forward. If you’re placing an order for paper, for example, it’s beneficial to look for recycled products and to choose providers that plant trees to replace those that have been cut down.
More and more businesses are going green. If you’re a company owner, and you’re ready to join the revolution, there are several steps you can take to reduce energy consumption, lower your carbon footprint, encourage recycling, reduce waste and support local and global efforts to protect the planet. Even the simplest changes can make a huge difference if every business and every household sign up to a greener way of living and working.