2. Introducing Green Measures into your Business
Implementing a green practice in your business will ensure eco-friendliness is at the forefront of people's minds on a daily basis, whilst also providing the foundation for larger projects.
You'll start to see a positive environmental impact straight away – whether it's switching off the lights or reducing paper usage.
If there are some amazing benefits to focusing on improving your business's green credentials and strengthening the eco-friendly stance, why isn't this green embraced by all? Well, there is sadly a misconception that becoming green involves spending too much time and money, whilst not having a positive impact for the short term. This belief is not well placed.
In fact, for those considering the implementation of green measures into their company, you'll be pleased to know that none of the above have to be negative considerations. Of course, whilst adapting an eco plan won't happen overnight and there will be some cost involved, it's by no means enough to dissuade your investment.
In fact, there are plenty of things you can do in a short period of time that'll have almost instant rewards. You'll start to see a positive environmental impact straight away – whether it's switching off the lights or reducing paper usage.
Whilst the more expensive options may bring about long term savings and benefits, there are a range of fantastic green ideas you can bring to the company that produce short term gains too. Implementing a green practice in your business will ensure eco-friendliness is at the forefront of people's minds on a daily basis, whilst also providing the foundation for larger projects.
Best practice green ideas for your business
Around 30% of the energy produced in the UK is wasted. This is an unbelievable statistic and just goes to show how much room there is for improvement. As such, this should also be one of the first things your business addresses. Rather than running out to install solar panels on your roof, you should first determine how best to make the most of energy you're buying in the first instance.
When it comes to the typical office environment, a huge proportion of energy wastage can be attributed to lighting. Of course, when you consider the average 9-5 workplace, this is naturally the lightest time of the day. If there are plenty of windows and light is able to flood into the building, why even have the lights on in the first place?
Your first solution when thinking about becoming eco-friendlier, is investing in lights that manually switch themselves off whilst inactive. Between this and ensuring staff are better educated about turning off lights when they're out of the room, you could make a saving up to 15% each year.
There's also the chance to save money by switching traditional bulbs to energy saving replacements. Although they are slightly more expensive to buy, they'll last longer and reduce energy consumption up to 75%.
Behind lighting, what's likely to be the next biggest drain on your energy use is heating. The Health and Safety Executive say an office temperature should be a minimum of 16°C, whilst if physical exertion is part of the role, this can be reduced to 13°C.
A priority of your business should be to ensure a comfortable working environment and the heating level will undoubtedly be a major contributor to this. However, placing too much reliance on heating and cooling in the building can use up a lot more energy overall.
Although you wouldn't be expected to scrap the use of central heating or air conditioning, it is advisable to ask colleagues to bring extra layers of clothing during the winter, whilst making use of windows in hotter conditions to reduce the need for air con.
In today's world, laptops are the primary accessory for working – especially in any office environment. Computers have become a thing of the past in many cases and nowadays employees typically work from laptops, which they can take to and from work easily.
However, whilst laptops do have a positive impact on efficiency in the office, they can be a drain for energy usage. This is particularly the case for those who leave their laptop plugged into the mains throughout the day – even when fully charged. The chances are if you're reading this from a laptop, you're plugged in.
Again, this is a simple habit to change and with it, will reduce the energy usage of your business. Ask employees to unplug the laptop from the wall when it reaches 100% battery and you'll notice a difference. This also has a positive effect on the laptop's battery and leaving it plugged in non-stop will reduce performance in the long term.
Energy monitoring systems
It's all well and good saying your company is likely to be wasting energy and therefore money, but how can you track where exactly this is leaking from? Reducing energy usage will have a beneficial environmental impact and save you a small fortune at the same time, so it pays to have an accurate recording.
This is precisely where energy monitoring systems come into the equation. Plus, there are government schemes whereby you could get a free system installed. These smart meters will provide real time information on all the energy being used in any building, allowing you the opportunity to work out where cuts can and should be made.
As you'd expect, this is great news especially for smaller businesses who are wanting to better manage their energy and save money where possible. A free rollout began in summer 2014.
Encouraging an eco-friendly ethos
As discussed in the previous section, there are some easy ways you can quickly turn your business into a forward thinking company without breaking the bank. However, if you want to take a rounded approach to carbon reduction, you'll need to enlist the help of employees. As such, there are some great ways to get workers on board and ensure they bear eco-friendliness in mind, whilst changing the ethos of the entire company – top to bottom.
Replace direct marketing with e-marketing
Many businesses in the UK are still actively using direct marketing. Whilst in the past this would have been an effective marketing technique and every now and then still produces the goods, it wouldn't be described as an eco-friendly method. Printing out and mailing hundreds or thousands of flyers or leaflets at a time is not viewed as an environmentally friendly approach.
The Guardian reported in 2011 that the UK was wasting millions of pounds annually on the recycling and disposing of advertising mail. If your company is actively pushing direct marketing, you're contributing to the strain. It's not just a financial burden though and there's a great cost to the environment too – filling up landfill sites and producing harmful CO2 emissions in the creation, delivery and destruction of advertising.
As a viable alternative to direct marketing, your business should be considering the use of e-marketing. Of course, sending out marketing emails won't have the same impact on the environment and can also be beneficial to your company too – giving you the chance to track success rates and determine how you can better your marketing practices. With direct marketing, you've no idea who reads your company's message or throws it straight into the trash.
We are in no way suggesting that email marketing doesn't have its own impact on the environment though. Antivirus company McAfee reported how three trillion emails are sent annually and the energy used for delivering these could power two million homes. This also uses more energy than three million cars.
Push the use of email communication
Whilst on the subject of email marketing, it's also worth mentioning how emailing colleagues should be pushed in the workplace, rather than printing off documents and passing them around the office. With current technology, there are so many opportunities to improve work productivity online. For instance, why print off a 20-page document to show a colleague, rather than emailing it across or uploading to a Cloud-based server.
The delivery of a letter in the UK produces some 26g of CO2. Now think about how many letters are delivered daily, let only on a yearly basis. This only takes into account the delivery too – not the writing and printing that takes place.
From a business perspective, email is a much more sensible option too – ensuring everything is backed up and saved online, whilst ensuring documents can't be misplaced or a security risk.
Encourage companywide printing guidelines
Despite our best intentions to avoid printing documents needlessly, it can't always be avoided. However, it makes sense to impose some level of guidelines for which documents are printed, to avoid waste of both ink and paper.
For starters, where possible, how about printing on both sides of the paper? For important documents and contracts this isn't possible. However, there's little reason to avoid this when printing for in-house purposes.
Another viable solution for reducing paper wastage is to set a standard font size and type. This will encourage the use of a thinner font and can actually save you up to 10% on ink costs. What's more, this practice is completely free to implement and brings cost savings to your business – whilst boosting the eco-awareness.
Invest in recycled paper
It's all well and good recycling your paper in the office and having separate waste bins for recyclable and non-recyclable materials, but it all seems pretty pointless if you then choose to buy non-recycled paper.
It takes a staggering amount of energy to create paper. This stands at around 25-30MJ per kilogram – which is more than steel, iron, glass and aluminium. Of course, this makes the whole production costly to the environment.
As a workaround and to ensure your business takes an eco-friendly approach, we would suggest using recycled paper for office purposes. Recycled paper is typically produced with 28-70% less energy and you'll also be supporting the UK economy (as recycled paper is often made on our shores).
Experts warn us that we'll soon run out of landfill space and could face a dilemma in as little as 10 years. This will mean the only way to get rid of waste would be through incineration, which is even more detrimental to the environment and human health. Using recycled paper in your workplace, is therefore an important way to encourage an eco-friendly stance.
Next chapter, 3. Long Term Green Measures for your Business to Adopt
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