How businesses can help
How, as a business, you can make sustainability part of your culture.
Build a culture of awareness
Make sustainability part of your culture, it will become the norm, both in and out of the office. A great place to start is assembling a green champion for each department.
Rethink your waste
Think about ways you can cut down: eliminate paper handouts, cut back on the office fizzy drink habit, and avoid too many takeaway containers.
Encourage staff not to print email and draft documents, Millennials prefer doing everything electronically.
You might even consider a company-wide ban on single-use water bottles. Plastic water bottles take hundreds of years to completely decompose if they make their way to landfills. By adding filtration to your water system, your employees can get fresh water from the tap in the break room.
Waste reduction also makes good business sense, it reduces the costs associated with both purchasing and waste disposal.
Recycling is a simple way to make a big impact.
Reduce your travel
Travel, especially air travel, wreaks havoc on the environment.
Video conferencing technology has improved substantially over the past few years, making it easier than ever to connect with co-workers around the globe - conduct your business virtually.
Reducing the number of cars on the road also cuts back on pollution and carbon emissions. Allow working from home one or two days a week and offer incentives for employees who carpool. Even something as simple as installing an office bike rack is a step in the right direction.
Choose environmentally conscious vendors
If your small business wants to fight climate change, find other businesses and organizations that do, too.
Take a look at your supply chain. Who are your providers and do your values align?
Using local vendors for catering and supplies not only supports your local economy and other small businesses, it also reduces your carbon footprint.
Eating seasonal items also helps to avoid less sustainable production methods.
How many of your computers and appliances remain on when no one's around? Careful use of technology and appliances not only saves energy, it will also save you some coin when your monthly bills arrive.
Transition to renewable power sources. Cleaner alternatives wind or solar power, heat pumps.
Finally, LED light bulbs consume at least 75% less energy than traditional incandescents.
Use the cloud
Cloud computing has become the norm for companies today - a cloud infrastructure addresses two critical elements of a green IT approach: energy efficiency and resource efficiency. Running your small business with cloud technology not only saves space and provides flexibility, it also cuts back on hardware and manufacturing, plus the emissions that go along with both.
Agriculture is responsible for roughly 1/3 of global emissions. Plant based foods are less carbon intensive than animal -based products. Production of red meat and dairy are especially carbon intensive. Stick to plant -based foods and specifically avoid beef and dairy based eats.
Measure your carbon footprint.
Promote Green events. Plant trees or have a green day. Indoor plants can improve the general air quality.
Placing recycling bins in each of your common work and meeting areas sends the message to employees and visitors to your offices that you take environmental responsibility seriously.
Learn to interact with your clients on video chat, since it can bring similar face-to-face benefits as an in-person meeting.
For both humanitarian and business reasons, it is imperative that companies of all sizes take action. Business leaders tackling climate change will be better off now and in the future.
Cllr Louise Pepper
Portfolio holder for Environment and Green Issues and Equalities