81% of global consumers now expect companies to be environmentally conscious, making it increasingly likely that businesses which do not take steps to reduce their carbon footprint will be held accountable.
The good news is that reducing your carbon footprint is relatively straightforward and can actually boost profitability, not to mention improving employee morale, cutting energy costs and protecting the environment.
Microsoft is the latest corporate giant to declare its commitment to reducing carbon emissions, claiming that by 2030, it will be “carbon negative” – meaning that the company will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits.
Now, if you happen to have access to a USD 1bn fund to dedicate to the development of carbon-removal technologies, that’s great. But there are other more modest ways that your business can make small changes with a big impact:
- Reduce, re-use, recycle
- Change the way your employees travel
- Turn your website green
- Work from home
1. Reduce, re-use, recycle
A move toward zero waste across all business operations should be the first goal for any business.
How to develop a waste reduction strategy
Firstly, conduct a business audit to identify where waste is being generated, how often, and where waste ultimately goes.
This will enable you to establish a clear set of waste reduction goals that are specific to your business, including policies and tactics that will help you to achieve them.
For example, your first goal could be to go paperless with the objective to reduce use, re-use and recycle wherever possible.
A substantial 50% of all business waste is composed of paper, so by limiting the number of printers in your office and digitising simple things like presentations and contract signings you could significantly reduce your carbon footprint with very little need for dramatic change.
You could also:
- Recycle consumer tech ‘e-waste’ (approximately 49.8 million metric tons of e-waste was produced globally in 2018)
- Donate old office furniture
- Ensure packaging material is re-usable, compostable or recyclable
- Refill and recycle ink and toner cartridges
- Remove all single use plastic from your business
2. Change the way your employees travel
One of the most impactful ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your business and reduce business spend is to address employee travel.
How to reduce travel without negatively affecting business
Whether you or your employees regularly travel by plane, train or car, it’s important to consider whether there’s an easier, more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way to conduct business.
Sit down with your team to map out categories of meetings, and commit only to travelling for face-to-face meetings if absolutely necessary.
For example, you might decide that the first client meeting will need to be held in person but perhaps all subsequent meetings can be done digitally.
With the abundance of free video conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts, it has never been easier to conduct ‘face-to-face’ meetings from anywhere.
And as most businesses are frequently using these tools themselves for convenience, cost cutting and to reduce their own carbon footprint, you can rest assured that most of your clients, suppliers and networks will likely embrace these new policies.
The added benefits to reduced travel include more efficient use of employee time and a reduction in travel expenses, not to mention demonstrating a clear example to clients, customers and stakeholders that your business is dedicated to reducing carbon emissions.
3. Turn your website green
Even websites carry a carbon footprint, and web hosting is very energy-intensive.
In fact, powering the average website produces 4,500 pounds of CO2 per year which is the equivalent to driving a new car for more than 10,000 miles.
How to find green web hosting in 2020
Going green with your website simply involves choosing an internet hosting company that powers websites using a renewable energy source or invests in a carbon offsetting scheme.
Choosing a green web hosting company can be slightly more costly and there is currently less choice in terms of features and support. Hopefully, this will soon change with the likes of Microsoft leading the way in its commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Look out for smaller companies such as GreenGeeks and iPage for green hosting options.
4. Work from home
One of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution is daily commuting, which is just one of the reasons why the introduction of flexible/remote working policies is steadily becoming commonplace in the corporate world.
After all, driving back and forth to work every day and getting stuck in traffic seems pretty antiquated when technology supports the ability to work from anywhere, at any time.
Introducing remote working
Remote working is becoming the norm as companies begin to see that it’s better for the environment, better for their bottom line and (when managed correctly) can boost employee morale.
Employees like to be trusted to work from anywhere, and working remotely can be very beneficial for productivity as team members avoid workplace distractions and the stresses associated with daily commuting.
One review demonstrated that working from home is known to “increase job satisfaction, performance, and feelings of commitment to an organisation among employees.”
Try introducing one work-from-anywhere day per week and explain that this is primarily to support the reduction of your carbon footprint. This will show your employees – that is, your biggest brand advocates – that you are serious about helping the environment and fighting climate change.
Employees are more likely to be loyal to a company that embodies like-minded and forward-thinking values, and they will be proud to work for a company that is actively addressing the problems associated with climate change.
Further still, your employees will feel as though they are being given their own power to affect positive change.