Environmental awareness is something that we take for granted today. The high profile of climate-change-fuelled weather disruption has rendered the dangers of global warming inarguable to most, and practically every household in the UK has adopted some form of sustainable habit, whether recycling or making shrewder purchasing decisions.
But placing the burden of action on the general public is not conducive to real progress. Businesses play their own elevated role in furthering pollution, and thus shoulder a larger portion of the responsibility. But what can you do as a business to raise your profile in a sustainable manner?
1. Training and Education
Arguably the most effective route by which a business can engage with environmental issues is through education and training. Educating staff on environmental policy, and the impacts of given processes or decisions, can help staff make more sustainable decisions in their work, going some way to improve the course of the business in terms of eco-friendliness.
Meanwhile, training enables your business to pivot more readily to sustainable alternatives and new forms of work. A construction business might train its contractors on how to install roof insulation in commercial and domestic buildings. Both for compliance with new government guidance and maximum efficiency results.
In the same vein, an administrative or consultancy organisation might train its partners and department leaders in new ESG policy ideas, so that new business with B2B clients can naturally fold in notions of sustainable action – uplifting the wider industry into environmental awareness.
2. Internal Sustainability Policy
Speaking of ESG policy, there are ways in which a business can directly espouse environmental awareness within its own structure – beyond educating staff. By instituting internal policies that promote sustainability, your business can reduce its own carbon footprint. This can be through as simple a policy as requiring all staff to sort and recycle their desk and office waste properly, and can extend up through to emissions rules for company cars and footprint targets for different departments or locations.
3. Events and Programmes
You can use your network and resources as a business to bring wider attention to environmental causes, through the organisation and hosting of events highlighting sustainability programmes or efforts. These events can take a number of different shapes, from passive company fundraising efforts to direct community engagement.
A locally-organised, business-funded cycle to work scheme could encourage partner, neighbour and even competitor businesses to join in, incentivising a decrease in worker reliance on fossil fuels one day each week. Industry fundraising dinners can bring leaders under one roof, and can be used to further the agenda of local environmental organisations or campaigners.
Internal office programmes, outside of regular policy or work stipulations, can also work well to advance environmental awareness in an industry – particularly if there is a PR component attached. A whole-office away-day to a sustainable farm or wilderness retreat can be both a learning experience, perk of employment and good PR story.
4. Conduct an environmental audit
Before you can make changes to your business practices, it’s important to understand your current environmental impact. Conducting an environmental audit can help you identify areas where your business could be more sustainable, such as energy use, waste generation, and transportation. You can hire a professional auditor or use a free online tool to get started.
5. Set environmental goals
Once you have a better understanding of your business’s environmental impact, you can set goals to reduce it. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). For example, you might set a goal to reduce your company’s energy use by 10% within the next year or to recycle 90% of your waste.
6. Engage your employees
Improving environmental awareness in your business requires the cooperation of your employees. Make sure they understand the importance of environmental sustainability and the role they can play in reducing your company’s impact on the planet. Consider implementing an employee training program or offering incentives for eco-friendly behaviors.
7. Switch to renewable energy
Switching to renewable energy sources like solar or wind power can have a significant impact on your business’s environmental footprint. If you’re not ready to make the switch to renewable energy entirely, consider purchasing renewable energy credits or investing in energy-efficient equipment.
8. Reduce waste
Reducing waste is a key part of improving environmental awareness in your business. Consider implementing a recycling program, composting food waste, and reducing paper use by going digital whenever possible. You can also reduce waste by using refillable products, like printer ink and soap dispensers.
9. Work with eco-friendly suppliers
Partnering with eco-friendly suppliers can help reduce your business’s environmental impact. Look for suppliers who prioritize sustainability and have green certifications, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Cradle to Cradle (C2C).
10. Communicate your efforts
Finally, it’s important to communicate your efforts to improve environmental awareness to your customers and stakeholders. Highlight your sustainability initiatives on your website, social media, and other marketing materials. This can help build trust with your customers and attract new ones who prioritize sustainability.
Improving environmental awareness in your business requires a concerted effort, but the benefits are worth it. By taking these steps, you can reduce your company’s impact on the planet, build a more sustainable future, and attract environmentally-conscious customers.
11. Track your progress
It’s important to track your progress towards your environmental goals to determine if your efforts are effective. You can use metrics like energy use, waste reduction, and carbon footprint to measure your progress. Tracking your progress can also help identify areas where you can improve and adjust your strategies accordingly.
12. Implement green transportation practices
Transportation is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Implementing green transportation practices, like carpooling, using public transportation, or switching to electric or hybrid vehicles, can help reduce your company’s carbon footprint. Encouraging telecommuting or virtual meetings can also reduce the need for transportation altogether.
13. Reduce water use
Water is a precious resource that should be conserved whenever possible. Implementing water-saving measures like low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads can reduce water consumption. Capturing rainwater for irrigation or landscaping can also reduce the amount of potable water needed.
14. Encourage sustainable behavior among customers
Encouraging sustainable behavior among customers can help spread environmental awareness and reduce the environmental impact of your business. You can encourage sustainable behavior by offering incentives for customers who bring their own bags or containers, or by providing information on how to properly dispose of products or packaging.
15. Consider sustainability in product design
Considering sustainability in product design can reduce the environmental impact of your products throughout their lifecycle. Using sustainable materials, designing for recyclability, and minimizing packaging can all reduce waste and carbon footprint. Customers are also becoming more interested in sustainable products, so prioritizing sustainability in product design can also be a competitive advantage.
In conclusion, improving environmental awareness in your business is a worthwhile effort that can benefit both the planet and your business. By taking these steps, you can reduce your company’s impact on the planet, attract environmentally-conscious customers, and promote sustainability within your industry. Remember, small changes can make a big impact, and every effort counts towards building a more sustainable future.