Upping sustainability is much harder for a business than it is for a household – you can’t just limit how often you flush the toilet and start composting your food waste and say you’re carbon neutral. Depending on how much you want to spend to make your business green, there are varying levels of sustainability, but these are Startups’ favourite quick fixes to reducing your business’ effect on the environment:
Do a ‘walkabout’
It’s estimated that up to 60% of the energy used by office equipment in the UK could be wasted because equipment is left on, so walk around your office and have a look at what you can do immediately to reduce your emissions. Has someone left a phone charger plugged into the wall while they’re not using it? Do you leave the lights on overnight? Do you always make sure the last person to go home switches off the printer?
Assess your carbon footprint
It may be a bit tedious sitting down with all your bills and trying to work out exactly how many units you’ve used over the last three months, but once you know exactly what your output is, you can work out exactly how much you need to reduce your emissions by and start to set goals.
It has been estimated that small businesses now spend more than 10% of their annual turnover on energy bills, so reducing your energy output has financial as well as ecological incentives. Assess how hard your computers work – if you are a web designer or graphics company, your employees may need a computer each, but if you only use your computers for word processing and internet browsing, you may want to consider using a multi-user system, such as the ‘GreenHive’ by sustainable computing company VeryPC, which allows up to seven users to be connected to it at once.
The company you buy your energy from makes a huge amount of difference to your overall carbon footprint. British Gas offers several green tariffs which, depending on the tariff you choose, will ensure your energy is sourced sustainably, support the development of renewable energy sources, and offset your carbon emissions for you. However, while these tariffs are a first step, Good Energy makes sure all its energy is sourced from renewable sources, which could reduce your carbon footprint dramatically.
Reduce before you recycle
Reducing the amount of waste you create before you start recycling is one of the best ways you can put a dent in your carbon footprint. As Julie Gartside, an environmental consultant at Enviros, puts it. “reduce first, don’t use recycling as an excuse mechanism”.
There are lots of ways to reduce your waste: encourage staff to limit printing as much as possible, for example, or make the switch from bottled watercoolers to filtered water from a tap.
Once you’ve reduced your waste, contact your local authority for information about recycling services in your area.