25 Sustainability Tips to Create a More Environmentally-Friendly Business
These days, everyone’s talking about how to protect the environment. Often, it’s easy to make environmentally friendly choices at home, but it’s down to employers and franchisors to take measures in the workplace. So, let’s take a look at the sustainable business practices you can implement to make sure you’re minimising your impact on the planet.
25 Sustainability Tips to Create a More Environmentally-Friendly Business
1. Use eco-friendly products
Let’s start with the basics – when you’re investing in goods, make the swap to eco-friendly alternatives. Whether you’re buying products to sell or use yourself, make sure you partner with local suppliers and buy recyclable, toxin-free ones made with sustainable practices.
Avoid options involving excessive packaging and always opt for reusable, rather than disposable, versions. From staple-less staplers to refillable coffee pouches, there are plenty of products you can use to reduce your impact on the environment.
2. Avoid unsustainable products
Some items just don’t have an eco-friendly alternative, so all you can do is try to find ways to reduce your use of them. For example, choose paperclips or recyclable folders instead of rubber bands.
3. Go paperless
This is a biggie – and most businesses have already taken steps to achieve ‘paperless’ status. Nowadays, it’s easy to store documents on the computer or in the cloud, and email clients instead of sending letters. Sustainable businesses also create online calendars. If you want to go the whole hog, make sure you only advertise online and stop any print marketing campaigns.
4. If you must print, minimise your paper usage
When you absolutely need a paper document, make sure you print double-sided. To further reduce your paper usage, keep your mailing lists up to date and strike off any old clients, which will help you avoid sending out content that will never be read. And, if you re-brand, use any old letterheads as in-house note paper.
5. Buy recycled materials and recycle them once used
Opting for recycled paper, loo roll and other products hugely benefits the planet. You’ll help reduce the number of trees that are cut down and the amount of harmful chemicals released into the environment. Once you’ve finished using paper, be sure to drop it into the recycling bin. If it’s got sensitive information on it, just shred it first.
6. Use laptops rather than computers
Laptops use less energy, so they’ll not only reduce your expenses, but your impact on the environment too. Of course, immediately swapping all desktop computers for laptops isn’t particularly eco-friendly, so just make the change when individual computers become inefficient.
7. Turn off electronics
Many offices are full of computers, laptops, printers, photocopiers, desk fans and other electrical equipment. Turn them off whenever they’re not in use and switch to hibernation mode if you go away for lunch. Whatever you do, make sure you turn everything off at night; leaving devices switched on drains a huge amount of electricity.
8. Recycle electronics
If your unwanted equipment is still in good working order, avoid sending it to landfill by donating it to nearby schools, libraries, charities or other organisations. If they’re no longer functioning, you can make sure they get recycled if you hand them in to a manufacturer’s electronics recycling scheme.
9. Turn off the lights
Few businesses need to keep their lights on overnight. To reduce your energy bill and environmental impact, remind the last person left to switch off all the lights as they leave. Alternatively, you could install automatic motion sensors to do the job for you. Also, always use energy-efficient bulbs – this is a small change that has a huge effect.
10. Maximise natural light
Keep blinds and curtains open to let as much light in as possible. Also, paint walls in pale, bright colours, as this will help reflect light across the room and reduce the need for artificial lighting. This tip has a whole host of benefits, from increasing exposure to sunlight and, therefore, vitamin D, to boosting mental wellbeing.
11. Use renewable energy
There are many fantastic companies out there offering 100 percent renewable energy, and lots of sustainable businesses have already made the switch. This includes big corporations like Apple, Microsoft and Intel.
Using green energy can have a positive impact on your revenue, as customers are likely to be enthusiastic to support environmentally friendly companies. In fact, research shows 90 percent of consumers are keen to use sustainable businesses as opposed to ones that don’t support good causes.
12. Regulate the workplace temperature
If you have control over your thermostat, make sure the workplace is a consistent temperature. This should reduce the chances of workers opening windows to let out the heat or switching on individual desk fans, both of which waste a lot of energy.
13. Avoid cooling or heating unused spaces
This one doesn’t need much explanation; it’s pointless turning heaters or air conditioners on in meeting rooms you know you won’t use on a daily basis.
14. Make it easy to recycle
You can do this by placing recycling and food waste bins in the kitchen, giving employees the chance to dispose of their food waste and packaging responsibly.
15. Remove individual bins from under desks
If each employee has their own bin under their desk, you’ll have to buy multiple bin bags – which all end up in landfill further down the line. By investing in larger communal bins, you can reduce the amount of plastic that goes into the ground.
16. Provide reusable cutlery and crockery
Sustainable businesses make sure kitchen areas are equipped with mugs, plates and silverware rather than disposable options. If you really want to encourage people to use them, why not allow employees to bring their own mug?
17. Bulk buy
If your employees bring their own food to work, it’s likely they need small amounts of spreads and condiments from time to time. So, it could be worth providing communal food items for the whole company to use. Whether it’s cartons of butter or jars of ketchup, you’ll eliminate the need for workers to buy and dispose of miniature packs of everyday items.
18. Make sure workspaces are cleaned using eco-friendly products
From single-use disposable wipes to solutions containing hazardous chemicals, cleaning products can have a devastating effect on the environment. To reduce your impact, invest in eco-friendly items or hire cleaning firms with sustainable credentials.
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19. Eliminate paper towels
You may not think you use that many paper towels – but take an office or workplace full of employees, and the waste bin fills up quickly. In the bathroom, replace these disposable items with a reusable cotton towel or hand dryer, and in the kitchen, swap them for a dishcloth or tea towel.
20. Judge each situation individually
If you work in retail, it’s likely you hand over receipts and carrier bags fairly frequently. Consider asking customers whether they’d like a receipt before printing one – and if this isn’t possible, recycle unwanted receipts.
You may also want to think about only offering bags to customers who have bought more than one item and don’t already have one on them. Of course, you should give them one if they ask, but this step may prompt them to carry their purchase or slip it into their handbag or rucksack, for example.
21. Choose a site with local transport options
You’ll be more likely to persuade your employees and customers to choose eco-friendly transport options if you choose a convenient site. When searching for a new workplace, consider ones with convenient access to local stations and nearby cycle paths or roads with bike lanes.
22. Allow employees to work remotely
Thanks to advances in technology, we can now complete a lot of work from the comfort of our own homes. If this makes sense for your business, let employees work remotely, as this will reduce water and energy consumption at work and emissions from commuting. Alternatively, why not experiment with working longer hours in fewer days?
23. Conduct virtual meetings
You can avoid driving and flying by holding business meetings over video calls. This will not only help reduce your carbon footprint, but it should also give you more time to work on developing the company – or spend with friends and family!
24. Create a ‘green’ outdoor space
If you have outdoor space, use a landscape design that saves water and incorporates lots of plants. Once you’ve made sure there’s enough room for workers to relax in the sun, fill in any surplus space with plants, as this will contribute to a healthy work environment.
25. Develop sustainability goals
The final sustainability tip is to tackle your green initiatives strategically and set realistic goals. Doing this will give you and your employees something to aim for, and should increase the likelihood of you achieving them. Also, once you’ve reached your target, you’ll feel a huge sense of success, which will spur you on to accomplish the next one. Good luck!
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©
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