To better preserve our planet for future generations, we all need to do our bit to tackle issues like climate change, deforestation and pollution.
And with the business sector producing as much as 17% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, it’s important for all companies to take steps towards being more environmentally friendly too. From supply chain to production, and packaging to raw materials, businesses should ensure everything they do is as efficient, sustainable and green as possible.
And, as well as looking at the fundamentals of a business, there are some simple ways to make day-to-day activities more eco-friendly too. Here are 9 easy ways to make your business more environmentally friendly.
Energy use varies dramatically depending on the size and type of your business, but on average, businesses can use between 15,000 and 25,000 kWh of energy a year. To avoid wasting power in your office, there are some super simple solutions you can implement.
First, make sure you’ve activated the power management system on all your computers. This system will put a PC or laptop into reduced-power mode after a period of inactivity, and you can simply touch a key to wake it up again. According to Energy Star, this could save you up to $15 per computer per year. Not to mention it’s better for the environment too.
It’s also good practice to shut down computers and other appliances at the end of the working day. Although this might not massively reduce energy use, it can’t hurt – so if you’re not using it, turn it off!
Maximising the natural light in your business premises is a great way to reduce energy, and it can also be better for your health and well-being. Ensure natural light floods your office space through windows and doors, and don’t obstruct light with large pieces of furniture or tech. You can also use a bright colour scheme on walls and appliances to reflect light around the space. For areas where natural light just isn’t possible, motion-sensitive lights are perfect for saving energy as they only turn on when needed and you don’t have to remember to turn them off.
And harness the power of nature to cool your business in summer by opening windows and doors rather than putting on the air conditioning.
A relatively easy, eco-friendly choice your business can make is to use a green energy supplier. There is an increasing number of energy suppliers available who generate power from sustainable, renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro. Some provide a mix of energy sources and some guarantee 100% renewable energy. Most are very cost-effective too. Check out suppliers like Octopus (£50 off if you use our link).
And it’s not just your energy suppliers you should consider. Do your homework and try to partner up with other like-minded, eco-conscious companies wherever possible. From sustainable raw materials suppliers to carbon balanced printers and even eco-friendly web hosts, there are heaps of green partners out there, so you can ensure your whole network is as environmentally friendly as possible.
Here at Solve, our servers securely host hundreds of websites and use power 24/7, so to keep our carbon footprint down and to ensure our service is as sustainable as possible, we fuel our servers with 100% renewable energy.
Our office is also based at the renowned Nansledan project on Duchy of Cornwall land. The Nansledan site was designed and built to be as sustainable as possible, using locally sourced materials and local craftspeople. The community of homes, offices and shops are energy and land efficient, and low-carbon.
There’s no need to send out paper bills and invoices nowadays. E-bills, app notifications and internet banking are commonplace, so get with the 21st century and go paperless. And if you’ve given customers the option of paperless billing in the past and the uptake was low, why not consider an opt-in for paper bills rather than opt-out? You’ll probably find that most customers are quite happy to go digital.
Going paperless can extend further than simply billing though. To make your business more environmentally friendly, try to avoid using paper and printing as much as possible. Virtual sign-off, fillable PDF forms and online ordering are just some of the other ways you can let go of the letterhead.
And don’t forget about other paper use too. At Solve, we also avoid things like single-use kitchen roll and paper towels in the bathrooms. And we use bamboo toilet roll from ‘Who Gives a Crap’ as it’s more sustainable, and the company helps builds sanitation in deprived communities too.
Saving water is a significant step towards being a more environmentally friendly business. At Solve, we use a dishwasher in the office kitchen and wash all the day’s dirty dishes together rather than individual office members washing them by hand throughout the day.
In the bathrooms, you could also look at dual flush toilets which can use less water and push taps to avoid water wastage.
Finally, you could install a water butt outside your business and collect rainwater to quench the thirst of your office plants and grassy areas – you could even flush your toilets with it!
Encouraging recycling and reusing is important in any green business. If you’re a retail business, you could sell branded reusable products like shopping bags and coffee cups. And if you’re an office-type business, ensure you have the relevant recycling bins available and promote best eco practice within your staff like we do at Solve. You could encourage employees to use reusable lunch packaging, or even provide them with branded, bento-style lunch boxes – great for marketing and the environment! At Solve, we take our own recyclable packaging to our favourite takeaway spot at lunchtimes.
You could also run initiatives internally to reduce food waste, like selling leftover cafeteria food at the end of the day or even an informal noticeboard for staff to share out short-dated produce and save it from the bin.
Some businesses even organise community-based recycling schemes like acting as a drop-off point for initiatives such as crisp packet recycling.
To reduce the environmental impact of your business, you can encourage your employees to take more eco-friendly transport to work like cycling, walking or running. Back in 2017, road transports represented a fifth of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing our reliance on our cars plays an important role in meeting emissions targets. At Solve, we’ve implemented a Cycle to Work scheme which gives our team discounts on bikes and equipment to drive them away from four wheels and onto two – which has a positive impact on the environment and the Solvers health as well.
The pandemic has shown us that many business transactions, meetings, classes and networking events can be held virtually. So moving forward, your business could be more environmentally friendly by reducing unnecessary travel as much as possible. We are the kings and queens of virtual here at Solve. We minimise travel wherever we can – if it can be done virtually, we save emissions and go digital.
If you really do need to travel, try to maximise your trip by combining multiple visits.
A simple way to create a healthy, more environmentally friendly workplace is to make it greener. A famous study from NASA in the 80s concluded that humble house plants could successfully remove nasty chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from indoor air. Plants absorb the carbon dioxide we breathe out and release fresh oxygen back into the environment, which can cleanse the air at the same time. At Solve HQ, our office is full of air-cleansing greenery, pumping fresh oxygen into the environment and keeping the air we breathe fresh.
You could even use your free window sills to grow fresh herbs that can be used by staff at lunchtimes. And if you have space onsite, you could have a small veggie patch for staff to manage, grow and enjoy delicious communal crudités at break times.
As an eco-friendly business, you could promote horticulture and sustainability within your staff and community by getting involved in things like tree-planting events or community gardening projects. And if there aren’t initiatives within your local area, why not organise some? Use your power as a business to drive change and promote your green thinking and values to your following. Share your knowledge and encourage others to get involved.
At Solve, we’re a certified B Corp, meeting the highest standards of social and environmental impact. We’re part of community projects like the St Eval Land Project, which is creating a lush green space for environmental awareness and education in our local area. We’re also steadily growing the Forest of Solve by planting 100 trees every month to offset carbon emissions. We also plant a tree for each new client – signifying the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship, and we’re avid supporters of environmental charities like Surfers Against Sewage. We often give membership to our clients as gifts.
For us at Solve, we understand that business has some pretty big carbon footprints to fill, so we take significant steps to make our company as eco-friendly as possible.
There are so many simple ways businesses can be more environmentally aware and eco-friendly – these are just a mere 9! Every business is unique and there may be different solutions for you. Take a look at what your business does every day and see what changes you could implement. Base your decisions on the overarching environmentally friendly principles of reusing, recycling, using renewables and being less wasteful.