Our climate is changing as are our attitudes and the way we purchase. Becoming a sustainable business has a wealth of advantages and is imperative in ensuring your business’ future. Incorporating sustainability into your business is vital in protecting our planet and helping in the fight against climate change.
By becoming a green business, you will reduce to reduce the negative impact created by your operations. SMEs account for 99% of the private sector meaning they collectively have the opportunity to pave the way for a greener future. The value created by sustainability in business is multifaceted; becoming a Net Zero business benefits not only the planet but can also help contribute to the success of your business.
With 80% of UK residents concerned about climate change, it is hardly surprising that there is an increasing demand from consumers for businesses to act responsibly and sustainably. Consumers’ purchasing patterns show that this looks only to increase in the coming years. As more consumers make decisions based on a brand’s eco-credentials, those who have embraced sustainability are set to not just retain their current customers but also attract new ones. Whilst businesses may be tempted to change their operations to grow their reach, they will soon enough find out that by streamlining they will also improve their efficiency saving them time and money. With many SMEs falsely believe the myth that going sustainable will be too costly, the value it brings, both in the short and long term, emphasises that it is worth every penny.
Many businesses recognise the importance of becoming sustainable however due to a lack of resources and knowledge feel overwhelmed with 78% of businesses stating they don’t know where to start to become more sustainable. Sustainability shouldn’t be complex, it needs to be accessible to everyone, everywhere. You can improve your business sustainability in 5 steps by measuring and managing your emissions, doing behavioural actions and investing in green tech, transitioning to renewable energy, investing in offsetting and participating in projects which give back to the community.
Step 1: Measure and manage your emissions
Understanding your carbon footprint will give you a better idea of the impact your business has on the planet. By knowing your emissions, you can benchmark your business and see how it compares to others in your industry and how you fare against your competitors. Getting to grips with your carbon footprint is essential in pinpointing where you need to make changes within your business to reduce your emissions and will provide a starting point to help you monitor your sustainability progress. Using an online carbon calculator, such as this one Zellar – World’s First Sustainability Platform for Business – Carbon calculator , is a useful tool to help you determine your current carbon footprint.
Step 2: Do Behavioural actions and invest in green tech
Making proactive change can be difficult as every business operates differently however using data specific to your business will help you monitor your actions, giving you a greater insight into how you can behave more sustainably. Setting actions which you monitor each month such as checking internal lights are switched off out of hours or the thermostat is scheduled for the right timings, will help you to become a more sustainable business.Once you have done behavioural actions you can then decide where to invest to make changes to increase productivity. Investing in green technology is a sustainable way to run your business. Green tech refers to environmentally-friendly technology which doesn’t harm the environment and helps to reduce emissions. Green tech can be anything from smart thermostats to loft insulation, double or triple gazed windows to energy-efficient fridges. Having green tech is a more sustainable option for businesses as it uses less power than other products. Once you’ve installed these products, make sure you incorporate it into your behavioural actions for example is the equipment fully serviced and maintained? If not, it may not be running as efficiently as possible wasting energy. By being more efficient it helps businesses to save energy, money and reduce their emissions.
Step 3: Transition to renewables
Transitioning to renewable energy helps to lower your business carbon footprint. By using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels, your energy consumption doesn’t negatively affect the planet. When choosing an energy provider, you need to be aware of greenwashing as many energy companies offer green tariffs however these can still consist of a mix of sources including fossil fuels. Businesses looking to become more sustainable need to address where their energy comes from and how to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they emit.
Step 4: Offset
Carbon offsetting allows businesses to invest in climate change solutions, from planting trees to protecting mangrove swamps and restoring peat bogs. When you purchase an offset, you are funding the reduction or removal of carbon emissions. Businesses can only do so much, so fast, within their own operations. Supporting carbon offset projects is therefore a great way to have a bigger impact and demonstrate your commitment to sustainability. Just remember that climate change won’t be solved through offsetting alone. Businesses also need to continue making significant internal changes that reduce their emissions.
Step 5: Giving back
Becoming a sustainable business is about understanding the harmony of sustainability in which you give more than you take. This notion should echo through your actions, in having a business you naturally impact the community and environment around you, that’s why it’s important to make sure that impact is positive. By involving yourself in local biodiversity or volunteering projects you can help give back and contribute to leaving the planet in a better state than you found it. Corporate volunteering is also a great way to entice talent to your business by helping to align your business values with your employees. A study from Deloitte showed that 89% of employees think businesses that support volunteering activities offer a better overall working environment. It’s important to share your sustainability progress and how your efforts are contributing to a greener environment. Implementing ESG principles into your business also helps to attract investors to your business. Doing good is good for your employees, your business, your community and your planet – it’s a win-win.
Sustainable businesses don’t just look to the future, they are the future. With increasing emphasis on the importance of sustainability setting ambitious environmental goals is crucial in not just determining the future planet we leave to our children but also the future of our businesses. Going green requires thought and you can’t become a Net Zero business overnight. However, by implementing a sustainability strategy and following the five stated steps you can start your journey to becoming a sustainable business today.
Author bio: Elsa Papa, Zellar
Elsa Papa is the content writer and sustainability officer for Zellar, the world’s first sustainability platform. Her role as content writer includes copy and content writing for the website, the product, Zellar’s blog and sustainability and business orientated magazines. As sustainability officer she is helping to accelerate Zellar’s journey to Net Zero by using the platform to benchmark, manage emissions, invest in local and international offsetting and biodiversity projects, participate in volunteering and promote their sustainability journey. Her previous experience includes writing, editing and photographing for online magazines and blogs such as The Tab, I am BeYoutiful, Olga Anderson and Learn English for Teens where she was awarded top blogger of the year. She has also had work featured in The Metro. Having held positions in France, Germany, Austria and China, Elsa combines her cultural awareness to provide insightful, zeitgeist articles.
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