Updated on 08/07/2020
Coronavirus has led to a huge spotlight being placed on the environment. As the UK’s lockdown has caused our nation, and perhaps even our entire species, to question whether there is more we can do to support the environment after lockdown ends.
This notion is hugely relevant to businesses, partly because business operations are a huge contributor to climate change, but also because consumer attitudes toward the environment are becoming clearer every year. People want to buy from brands whose practices are sustainable.
So, as a business owner, you may wonder whether your operations are in line with this trend. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will:
Let’s dive into how taking care of the planet could also benefit your business.
There’s a public relations term; ‘publics’, which describes any audiences connected to your business. This could include customers, stakeholders and even your employees- groups you should keep in mind when considering the benefits of an environmentally friendly office.
Why’s that? Well, for example, your employees and stakeholders may feel a sense of pride if they see that you’re taking actions to improve or reduce the impact your business has on the environment. This could benefit staff retention, and potentially even improve your chances of acquiring new employees through internal recommendations, as your employees tell their friends how proud they are to work for you.
A similar effect could also be seen amongst consumers. Our own research has revealed that 91% of consumers think that companies need to take more responsibility in looking after the environment. If you aren’t seen to be operating in a sustainable way, or putting out the right type of messaging around the environment, there’s a good chance that consumers could simply refuse to buy from you.
Obviously, this has varying consequences amongst different audiences; not everyone is equally as passionate about the environment, however it’s likely that you wouldn’t be hurting your chances of connecting with more customers by implementing some environmentally friendly practices. So, let’s take a look at how exactly you could look to do that.
While there are probably some obvious physical changes you could make to your office space, there are also psychological changes to consider- even promoting environmentally conscious behaviours could be helpful. Here’s our roundup of practical steps you can take to make your business eco-friendlier.
One easy way to reduce our impact on the planet is to switch from transport methods that have a fairly high impact on our environment; such as driving to work five times a week and creating carbon emissions, to more eco-friendly transport options.
These could include simply walking to work where possible, or even cycling. The government announced in May that they would be injecting two billion pounds into improving cycling and walking in the UK. That’s a huge amount of money- and it’s due to be spent on creating and maintaining emergency bike lanes and streets, and trialling a rental e-scooter system across different UK cities.
We can’t understate the potential environmental benefits of biking to work, so perhaps it’s worth giving this a go or suggesting it to your wider business. Alternatively, is it completely necessary to head into the office at all?
Lockdown has caused many of us to work from home and embrace a shift to using more digital technologies- not always by choice. For many, though, this shift has proved less difficult than expected and in hindsight, there have been environmental benefits created by this behaviour.
The BBC has found that nitrogen dioxide levels in the UK have fallen by up to 60% compared to the same period last year- a statistic which is heavily influenced by people working from home during lockdown. So, it’s worth considering the potential impact of air pollution and asking whether you’re in a position to cut down your carbon footprint by introducing flexible working options and working from home schemes to your business.
One extra environmental benefit of the digital shift could be that many offices are no longer being used at full capacity. This means not only that far less transport to the office is then required, but also that a lot of the waste associated with office working; such as paper waste or plastic from people’s lunches may have been reduced temporarily.
People may have found themselves less likely to be picking up meal deals of a lunch time too, and instead are spending more time cooking. The impact of this lifestyle change on a national scale could mean that a lot of waste has been eliminated temporarily. Speaking of which, it may be a good idea to…
Deciding to make your business fully paperless or limiting paper use could help preserve woodland and help cut your monthly outgoings. For example, if you own a shop and provide paper invoices with each order, you could introduce email invoices to customers, saving money on ink and paper.
Switching over to digital technologies and apps to run your team meetings, or even to manage projects and boost your productivity, could also reduce your impact on the environment- and this is something you can be proud of showcasing to your customers and stakeholders.
Whether it’s the café you order your client lunches from or the suppliers that provide your business’s inventory – supporting sustainable businesses will project a message to similar suppliers who may not be as eco-conscious.
If it’s normal for your suppliers to deliver items with unnecessary packaging and plastic, you could ask them to reduce it for your particular order – saving plastic that would otherwise go straight in the bin. Similarly, to the point above, it also sends a strong message to your suppliers that clients are looking for reduced packaging.
Using energy saving bulbs will make your business more eco-friendly – energy saving lightbulbs require less electricity to power, saving money on electric bills and reducing environmental impact.
For many, automatically turning on the lights when you get into the office is a familiar habit – yet artificial light is not always necessary and it could be costing your business unnecessary money. If your business operates during daytime hours and has access to natural light, this tactic could be a game-changer for your business and its finances.
There is a surprising demand for used electronics, so instead of disposing your old electrics at the tip, recycle them with companies such as Zapper and Recycle Zone who will pay money for them, even if they are broken. If your electrical goods are in working order, you could even look at selling them for more through platforms such as Gumtree, Ebay or Facebook Marketplace.
The ingredients in our cleaning products contain a number of harmful chemicals that are toxic to both humans and the environment. Switching to a natural cleaner with non-toxic ingredients may be a viable alternative.
You can even look at making your own eco-friendly cleaning products without the cocktail of toxic chemicals, for example using water, vinegar and lemon for cleaning your office windows.
There are plenty of businesses in the world who are not only embracing and promoting the eco-friendly initiatives and values we’re discussing today, but actually actioning them right now. Here are some key examples:
It’s not just large businesses that can have an impact on the environment, though. Everyone’s decisions matter. As a small business owner, you could look to promote eco-friendly practices and put them into action, then incorporate your activity into your marketing strategy. This could help to encourage consumers to buy from you – after all, wouldn’t you prefer to buy from a socially responsible business if you could?