Climate change has been a global issue for decades now, with scientists across nations raising the alarm on the dangerous impacts of carbon emissions on natural ecosystems, weather patterns and global heating. In recent years, the issue has become an emergency, and pressure has been mounting on governments to forge a realistic path towards a sustainable future as a result.
The UK government has already made some key commitments to mitigating the impacts of climate change – namely the Net Zero Strategy, which seeks to make the UK a zero-carbon nation by 2050. The route to net-zero is a rocky one, but there are expectations for individuals, businesses and industries alike to reckon with their own impacts on climate appropriately.
As a small business owner, you join an overwhelming majority of the UK’s business make-up; as acknowledged in the launch of the Together for Our Planet scheme last year, small businesses account for 60% of the workforce and 99% of all businesses – making their contributions all the more important for the achievement of net zero. But what exactly can you do to reduce your business’ carbon footprint?
This example is particularly relevant to small businesses in construction or other trades, but can be applied broadly to businesses that have any real-world impacts on clients. Your carbon footprint as a business does not necessarily stop with the carbon cost of your running and services, but can also carry on in the results of your work.
Ensuring these end results are as eco-friendly as possible can make a much bigger difference than any single change to your business operation.
A key example is that of construction. The ‘built environment’ is a term used often to describe construction efforts and finished builds in the same breath; as a small business, if you better insulate the roofs and walls of new-build properties, you reduce the overall emissions of the built environment and set a long-term precedent for energy efficiency.
It sounds like a simple one, but making sure that your office and employees are recycling when they can will help to make a difference. Installing recycling stations inside the office will make it as easy as possible for every and therefore be more likely to succeed.
Using recycled resources is another easy change to make. Using recycled paper will help to reduce deforestation and also preserve natural habitats. Even though the initial costs of using recycled options could be higher than normal, the cost to the environment of not using recycled options will be must higher.
Buying used office furniture if you’re expanding or just starting out can help you to save on costs and also help to save on it being thrown away.
But it’s not just what you do with the materials and equipment you have as a business; it is also where you source them from. If you have previously given little thought to the values of your suppliers, you might find you are not aligned on the sustainability front – and that your supply chain is needlessly pollutive. Seeking active relationships with sustainable sources can reduce your business’ carbon footprint in a crucial way.
Using good quality supplies will not only be more sustainable but will also ensure that your projects last a long time and won’t need to be added to or fixed, leading to the use of more materials by a company that might not be as reliable or eco friendly as you.
Electrify Your Fleet
Lastly, if your business involves travel or logistics in any meaningful way, switching from a conventional gas-guzzler to an electric vehicle is easier and cheaper than ever. Fuel costs are high already, providing incentive enough to look for a change – but for many smaller businesses, petrol is the single biggest contributor to carbon footprint.
There are many different benefits to using electric vehicles, other than the significant emissions reductions, the arteries in electric vehicles are designed for an extended life. If moving to a fully electric fleet is too much of a change, then adapting to hybrids can be an easier change to make.
Switching your meetings to online meetings can also help to reduce unnecessary travel, save on staff commuting times and travel expenses. Giving your staff more time to be getting on with stuff and also saving you money for other more important things.
There could even be grants and allowances available for your business if you’re willing to make this change. Adapting with the times is a vital quality for the success of any business.