In a world that’s changing all the time – both economically and environmentally – many business owners are becoming more and more climate-conscious. With markets evolving and resources increasingly lacking, all businesses have a responsibility to limit the impact their operations have on the environment and many are now striving to create a more sustainable working model.
While making changes will help to ensure a greener future for your business, it could also save you money in the long term and may even help your business to grow. Reducing the amount of resources your business uses and implementing measures that are cost-cutting as well as environmentally responsible will help you to keep up with the pack.
There are many steps you can take to boost your businesses’ green credentials, whether it’s using sustainable energy, switching to more environmentally friendly forms of packaging and transportation, or factoring natural capital into your finances.
This guide will explore some of the latest green trends to follow to ensure that your business isn’t left behind.
Transportation and Storage For Your Business
Transportation is one of the biggest factors to consider when looking to make your business more environmentally sustainable. While the movement of goods is essential for a lot of businesses, there may be changes you can make to limit your carbon emissions.
Sourcing goods from local suppliers is a good place to start. Fewer miles being driven by your drivers and couriers will go some way towards reducing your carbon footprint. It will also save you money on fuel costs in both the long and short term.
Another way to cut emissions would be to increase your on-site storage. Buying materials in bulk and storing them at your premises means fewer deliveries, fewer miles traveled and less traffic on-site, creating a cleaner environment.
Investing in good quality storage containers is an effective way to house your materials on-site without taking up valuable space at your premises. If your business operates vehicles for providing services, such as home deliveries, consider switching out some of your petrol and diesel vehicles for electric or hybrid ones.
Electric and hybrid vehicles are a lot more energy efficient as they produce lower emissions than petrol or diesel cars. Using electric and hybrid vehicles could also save you money through tax incentives, as well as lower fuel and maintenance costs.
Choose Renewable Energy
Choosing a sustainable source of energy is perhaps the best way to ensure that your company is environmentally responsible. Renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power will go some way towards reducing emissions and establishing your business’s reputation as a green company.
Whatever the size of your business and premises, solar power is one of the most efficient sources of renewable energy available. Consider taking advantage of good roof space at your premises by installing solar panels, which will not only greatly reduce your carbon footprint but will also save you money in the long term.
As well as providing energy security and flexibility for your business, using solar panels could reduce your energy bills by up to 90 %, providing electricity for your business at less than 2p per watt.
The panels themselves are also low maintenance and installation will cause little to no disruption to your business. Other types of renewable energy such as wind or geothermal energy may require more space, have higher installation costs and could also take longer to pay back.
Wind power may only be viable if you have acres of building-free land available, and the turbines themselves can cost considerably more than solar panels.
Use Sustainable Materials For Your Business
As well as reviewing the sourcing and transportation of the goods and materials your business uses, you should also consider the sustainability of the materials themselves. Using materials such as single-use, non-recyclable plastics will have a negative impact on the environment and will likely affect the public perception of your business as a sustainable one.
Making the switch to more recyclable or reusable materials when making your products and packaging will limit the impact of your business on the environment, as well as enhancing your green reputation.
Consider making your products and packaging from reusable, recyclable or compost-able plastics, as opposed to those which are largely single use. Or even better, consider using materials such as paper, cardboard and metal as an alternative to plastics altogether.
Also, think about how you advertise your goods and services and whether you can do so more sustainably. Physical adverts such as fliers and leaflets may not be the most environmentally friendly as they may be printed on materials that are not biodegradable. If that is the case, consider printing on recyclable paper instead.
Putting more into your online advertising could negate the need for mass produced physical ads and could also save you money on printing costs.
Consider The Risks and Plan Your Finances
With so many factors to consider in creating a sustainable business, it is important to allow for such changes and adjustments when planning your company’s finances. Many companies are now factoring in natural capital – natural resources which are used to benefit people – when making financial decisions.
Natural capital valuations can help strike a balance between environmental impact and economic growth, allowing you to make the right decisions going forward with a focus on both factors.
Shadow pricing, supply chain management and scenario planning can all help to create a clearer picture when deciding what is best for your business. It’s also a good idea to practice good risk management when making changes to your business.
There may be outside factors that affect the viability of your decisions and it’s important to be aware of any potential stumbling blocks. Consider the likelihood of an accident occurring, or whether there will be any potential damage as a result of making adjustments.
Good risk management will also save you from potential fines or payouts to affected businesses, councils, landowners or members of the public.
(This article was contributed by Imogen Clarke, a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and ethical living. She is passionate about the environment, as well as dogs and caffeine.)