Eco-Business: Improving The Environmental Sustainability of Your Business
Is your business doing everything it can to reap the benefits of sustainable practices? Kamal Marwaha, Managing Director and Lead Business Analyst at Fluidity Business Analysis, explores the benefits and potential routes to a more eco-friendly business model.
WHY SHOULD MY BUSINESS BE MORE ECO-FRIENDLY?
The impact of your business on the environment has never been more important. From toilet roll to TVs, everything we buy has a sustainability rating, and for good reasons. A March 2021 study found that sustainability remains a key consideration for consumers, with 32% of consumers highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. 28% of consumers also claim to have stopped buying certain products or services altogether due to ethical or environmental concerns. So, if your business is at the lower end of the scale when it comes to being environmentally-friendly, your competitors could well be benefiting from your failings.
But sales aren’t the only reason to seek out a strategy that benefits your business and the environment simultaneously. The UK’s ‘green taxes’ (also known as ‘pollution taxes’) are specifically designed to punish businesses with unsustainable practices. So, not only does a lack of environmental consideration limit your potential revenue, but it implies additional outgoings for your business, too.
HOW CAN MY BUSINESS BE MORE ECO-FRIENDLY?
The environmentally-friendly changes you can make to your business vary greatly in cost and time. But, for small and medium sized businesses, here are my least time consuming and most cost-effective recommendations…
Allow your employees to work from home some or all of the time, or opt for a shared office (or both!). You don’t need me to tell you that the pandemic is driving businesses towards this attitude to working anyway, but as well as keeping your employees happy and covid-free, this also means less commuting, and less energy being utilised by your business alone (i.e. by powering an entire office 5-7 days a week).
Does your business need a permanent office space? Think about how your employees get to work. Could you offer a cycle to work scheme (subsidising the cost of a new bike for employees who purchase one for their commute); support employees who use public transport; or initiate a carpool group to encourage employees on similar routes to share lifts? The less cars on the road, the better!
Many businesses have already opted for paperless billing and digital document signing, but there is still more that can be done. For physical spaces, can you change your point of sale material less often, so less printing is required? Can you encourage employees not to print out emails or documents, and avoid sending out direct mails by opting for communication via emails, texts and calls instead?
A simple addition to any office space: recycling bins for all materials. Separating your recycling is more efficient for collectors, and helps your employees to mentally track their own consumption of materials. Alongside this, ensure your employees are well educated when it comes to material selection. Do they choose sustainable clothing, furniture, stationary and other items? Hand out sustainable water bottles and travel mugs to your employees and partners to avoid the use of paper and plastic cups (also, if you brand them, this is free marketing!).
If you do have a physical office or retail space, there are many things you can do to decorate more sustainably. For example, add plants with high CO2 consumption (such as a snake plant, boston fern, or aloe vera); seek out upcycled and/or recycled furniture rather than buying new; and utilise carpet and rugs to insulate your space and reduce the need for heating.
Your physical workspace is probably sucking up energy like there’s no tomorrow. If you have a warehouse or distribution centre in your network, you’ll probably know how costly it can be to hold these large spaces. Yet there are many ways to make your space more eco-friendly. Investing in sensored lights that turn off when no one is around, checking the efficiency of any appliances before purchasing and/or installing, and having a regular energy audit are just some of the options. You could even look into a four day working week, or change working hours so you can make maximum use of natural daylight…
“B Corps” are businesses that are voluntarily certified every two years for their social and environmental performance by a global nonprofit organisation. According to Rozanne Davis, head of sustainability at Innocent Drinks (a certified B Corp), the best time to become a B Corp is when your business is still growing, so no matter the size of your business right now, you can get moving on this!
Being part of the B Corp community also provides access to a whole network of sustainable businesses with plenty of experience in managing eco-friendly processes.
Managing Director and Lead Business Analyst,