Five ideas to make your business more sustainable

Climate change impacts all of us, and we all share the responsibility for slowing it down. Operating individually, we can easily feel overwhelmed – how will a fabric-wrapped shampoo bar make any difference to such a huge problem? Fortunately, as business owners, we have more power. When we adopt sustainable practices on a business-wide scale, we can set an example to others and have a wider positive impact.  

Here are five ideas to help businesses lower their carbon footprints and operate more sustainably.

  1. Reduce your digital carbon footprint

The internet has made some things more efficient, and talking about “the cloud” creates the illusion that the internet is not a tangible thing. But don’t be fooled. The internet is powered by servers with enormous carbon footprints. We access it via devices that use power and emit heat. They have to be manufactured in the first place and disposed of in the end. That makes for a big carbon footprint.

However, going offline isn’t an option in this day and age, and we’re not sure that a return to filing cabinets and snail mail is the answer either. Instead, try to be more efficient online. Send fewer emails, don’t copy people in unnecessarily and don’t send lengthy email threads no one really needs to read. Check your settings and make sure you only put your email signature on the first message of a thread, not every single one. This is all good email practice anyway – you might see your popularity increase too!

We could all spend less time online. Mindless scrolling isn’t good for the planet or your mental health – put your phone down and go for a walk instead. Across your business, try and create a culture where stepping away from tech is a positive thing – overcome the idea that we can’t be productive unless we’re glued to a screen.

  1. Get organised!

Deliveries and supplies are another area where many businesses could be more efficient. Many websites offer a super-fast delivery service – it’s usually more expensive and usually involves the driver coming directly to your premises to deliver a single parcel. But do you really need it? If you plan ahead, you should be able to order your stationery, office furniture and any other supplies before the situation becomes desperate. When you take the slower delivery option, your supplier can lump together your order with others for the area, lowering the carbon footprint for you and your neighbours.

Do your research too – you might be able to source the same thing locally, reducing your carbon footprint further and supporting a local business.

When we’re organised, we also waste less. Keeping our working spaces clean, tidy and maintained means that our stuff lasts longer and doesn’t need replacing.

Think about transport too – make time to walk or take public transport, rather than dashing off in the car at the last minute. Establishing a slower, more flexible company culture will empower your team to make a difference.

  1. Consider your supply chain

Your business may follow sustainable practices, but if you’re using suppliers that don’t, this will impact your overall carbon footprint. Before you sign a contract with a new supplier, ask them about their attitude to sustainability. There are some ideas for a pre-qualification questionnaire here.

  1. Offset emissions…properly

Planting trees is a good thing. Unfortunately, the trees you pay to have planted after your international flight will take twenty years to absorb the carbon you’re hoping to offset. And if those trees are cut down, the carbon will be released back into the atmosphere.

Mangrove restoration is a good alternative – more information here!

  1. Improve your corporate social responsibility

Next time you’re team building or choosing a networking event, take it as an opportunity to give something back. At Christmas, Get Ahead’s Rebecca Newenham and Joanne McGowan attended a heathland management networking event, organised by Project Five and Surrey Chamber of Commerce, with proceeds going to the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Why not keep an eye out for similar events where you’re based?

We could all be doing more to slow the progress of climate change. Outsourcing could help. When businesses outsource, they effectively share resources. One person, one laptop and one internet connection provides support to several businesses at once, including yours. To find out how Get Ahead could help your business run more efficiently, explore our website and get in touch – it would be great to talk.

Find out more about our services or call 01483 332 220 to discuss in more detail.