With the upcoming UN Climate Change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, alongside increasing extreme weather events and ongoing protests, the climate crisis is becoming an increasingly significant topic of news and conversation.
By now, most of us are doing what we can in our personal lives to reduce our own carbon footprint; whether it’s remembering our reusable shopping bag, recycling our yoghurt pots, or driving less.
While these are undoubtedly positive changes, with over 70% of global emissions produced by just 100 companies, it’s important to also think about the impact of our professional lives. Whether you work for a business or run one, there are many simple ways you can help the environment whilst at work (and you’re basically getting paid for it…).
1. Green commuting
If your company has an office or workplace, considering how you and your colleagues get there is a perfect way to reduce your environmental impact – with 62% of the UK workforce currently commuting by car.
Encouraging cycling to work, for example, by installing showers or implementing the government’s Cycle to Work Scheme, can help to improve employees’ physical and mental health, as well as their carbon footprint.
Subsidising public transport is also a great option. Some councils even offer discounts to participating employers, such as Nottingham’s own Tram2Work Scheme. This can also be a great employee benefit to offer, reducing commuting costs and leaving more money in your team’s pocket to spend on the important things, like snacks for the office.
Also, with fewer employees commuting five days a week since the pandemic, adopting a hybrid working model can come with its own environmental benefits.
As well as reducing the amount of commuting required, having fewer people in the office at one time could allow you to downsize – saving on rent and energy costs. Which reminds me…
2. Renewable energy
While covering your office roof in solar panels or installing a wind turbine is impractical for most businesses, getting your energy from a renewable source can be as easy as switching supplier.
When you change to a renewable energy supplier, even though the electricity you use still comes from the same place, you can rest assured in the knowledge that your supplier is contributing energy from renewable sources to the National Grid on your behalf.
Of course, using less energy remains the best alternative, whether that involves opening windows instead of blasting the air-con, switching off PCs overnight or installing energy-efficient lighting.
3. Recycle – with caution
Recycling is widely encouraged as a way of protecting the environment, so ensuring that your business has the right facilities in place is a great way of getting started.
While recycling is important, recycling correctly is even more so. What you can and can’t recycle can be incredibly confusing (with over 25 different recycling labels appearing on packaging in the UK), as well as varying widely depending on your local council – so it’s best to check your nearest authority’s regulations.
A fact rarely mentioned is that the UK exports around two-thirds of its plastic waste abroad for recycling (mostly to countries in Asia). Along with the environmental impact of transportation, this process makes it incredibly difficult to ensure that the waste is recycled properly.
The most foolproof way to recycle, therefore, is to do it yourself. From teaming up with a local school who could (with a little imagination) turn old cardboard boxes into castles, spaceships, or Formula 1 cars, to an allotments group who would see your discarded coffee grounds as composting gold dust!
Of course, reducing your waste in the first place is the best approach, so speaking to your suppliers to reduce packaging and making sure you’re ordering no more than you need is an excellent place to start.
4. Consider where your business holds its money
No matter what type of business yours is, it will (hopefully) have a bank account of some description to store, manage, or invest its funds.
In the UK, the “big five” high street banks supply 85% of small business accounts. However, despite their popularity, they also directly contribute huge amounts to fossil fuel projects. Switching to an environmentally friendly account supplier may be a positive initial step in divesting funds from the fossil fuel industry.
5. Use your influence as a business
Perhaps the most important thing your business can do to fight the climate crisis is to use its platform to encourage others to act.
This could be lobbying local (or national, if you’re feeling ambitious) policymakers and leaders to keep to their climate pledges or facilitate services such as greener public transport.
It could also involve publicising your own climate targets, encouraging other businesses to follow suit, and showing your clients that you care about your environmental responsibilities.
It is, however, really important to avoid greenwashing. Simply marketing yourself as an environmentally conscious company, without actioning your promises, will actually do more harm than good in the long run – both to the climate and your reputation.
Get in touch
If you need help with your digital marketing, so that you can get on with saving the planet, you know where to find us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 8965 300.