5 Ways to Reduce Your Business’s Carbon Footprint
MOVE AROUND LESS
Do you really need to travel as much as you do?
The carbon footprint produced by our often daily use of motor vehicles is significant, and the impact of aviation is even more concerning. Did you know that a return flight from London to New York has been estimated to contribute to a quarter of the average person’s carbon footprint for a whole year? And that’s accounting for the number of individuals on the plane (around 2.2 tonnes of CO2 each). When you look into the numbers, travelling for business (which for many involves frequent flying) can be VERY damaging to the environment.
Modern remote working practices and connectivity tools like online meeting software allow members of staff to do their usual work, carrying out meetings and staying connected, without having to travel and meet in the same locations. We are now more connected than ever, and many businesses are realising the potential of remote working tools to cut carbon footprints. They mean a reduced frequency of commuting, where more days can be spent working from home, and advanced video conferencing and online meeting tools allow workers to do all the things they could normally do in a face-to-face meeting. Ask yourself, do all the meetings you attend need to be done face-to-face? Or could you achieve the same goals using high-quality video feeds, file sharing capabilities, virtual presentation tools and screen sharing?
SAVE MONEY AND CARBON WITH MODERNISED LIGHTING
Beleive it or not, replacing halogen light units in your office or working environment with LED equivalents can result in an electricity saving of between 65 and 85 per cent for those units. In fact, some of the more traditional methods are so inefficient that old fashioned incandescent bulbs can lose up to 90% of the energy they use as heat. So it’s no surprise that a significant amount of energy can be saved by switching to more efficient LED alternatives. LED lighting is not only generally more efficient (meaning less electricity and CO2 is needed to power them), it also tends to last longer, meaning fewer bulbs need to be purchased (and manufactured) per year as replacements.
It’s amazing how many electrical appliances we leave on standby 24 hours a day when we only use them for a fraction of that time. Of course, some important business equipment needs to be running constantly, but much of it doesn’t. We’re talking about turning things off at the plug here, and yes that might mean getting on your hands and knees. It’s estimated that a whopping £8.66 million is wasted by businesses during the Christmas period because of electrical appliances being left running for no reason.
Businesses can also consider automatic shutdown products.
DEAL WITH WASTE RESPONSIBLY
Recycling whatever you can should be a given these days, but the UK is still not performing quite as well as many of its fellow European nations. Dealing with waste properly is integral to reducing carbon footprints because landfills produce large amounts of CO2 (and Methane) as waste breaks down over time. If we recycle waste, we also have the benefit of not having to extract more raw material to produce new items as we can use materials that have already been obtained. To create new plastics from scratch, including food packaging, we generally have to process crude oil at oil refineries. The issue is that in our daily lives we are completely blind to the impacts our waste is having on the environment – we just don’t get to see it.
Businesses, often use significant amounts of paper for important documents, and paper and cardboard can be easily recycled too. It actually takes 70% less energy (energy which has a carbon footprint!) to recycle an existing sheet of paper into a new one, rather than collecting the raw materials and making it from scratch.
Businesses should find out exactly what can and cannot be recycled by their local authorities and should create their own processes for dealing with their waste in responsible ways. A key task is to instil enthusiasm in staff by making them understand the impacts of business waste. Businesses also have an opportunity to have positive impacts on the behaviour of their staff in their own homes when it comes to recycling household waste.
TRY A GREEN COMMUTING SCHEME
The UK has set a target to reduce transport emissions by 20% by the year 2020. There is an effort to achieve this with the use of greener commuting practices and remote/flexible working.
It’s never been easier or more affordable to become a cycle commuter. In fact, cycling to work has multiple benefits both environmentally, and for individual well-being. As a mode of transportation, cycling is exploding in popularity in cities like London, and the government’s Cyclescheme even means employees can save between 25% and 39% on the cost of a bike and/or accessories. Cycle commuting carries a vastly reduced carbon footprint when compared to almost all other forms of commuting. Employers benefit from using the Cyclescheme by saving up to 13.8% in National Insurance Contributions.
This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce your business’ carbon footprint. It involves employees being given the opportunity to work together to share journeys to work. It could be as simple as setting up a facebook group so that lifts can be arranged between collegues.