How to make your independent business more environmentally friendly

Published: 23/ 10/ 2019

It’s no secret (unless you’re a certain blonde-haired president) that climate change is a real issue facing today’s world. But, you could be forgiven for thinking that tackling the carbon footprint of businesses is more the responsibility of corporate giants than SMEs. After all, they’ll be having a greater impact, right?

Wrong. Global warming is everyone’s responsibility and everyone can make a difference. Big or small, every effort is significant.

There’s also a business case for being more green - showing a commitment to being eco-friendly could boost your reputation and potentially your sales, so it’s a bit of a win-win situation.

So, to help you get started or build on your existing efforts, here are 10 tips to make your independent business more environmentally friendly.

1. Recycle

You’re probably used to recycling at home, it’s become part of our day-to-day lives, so transfer the same behaviours to your place of work.

Make sure you have clearly labelled bins for paper, plastics, cardboard and general waste and lead by example and encourage your workforce to follow in your footsteps. It’s a super simple way to make your business greener, and your employees will soon get into the habit of recycling by default.

Don’t forget, you can recycle your electronics too. Loads of electronic devices end up in landfills, but if you do your research you’ll find some electronic retailers have recycling programmes you could utilise. Another option could be to reach out to schools and charities who might be eager to accept your second hand goods.

2. Go paperless

Where possible, of course. Not everything can be done online, but it’s becoming more and more popular to opt for paperless billing, newsletters or other forms of contact. There are a couple of ways you could go about this:

  • Get in touch with your own suppliers and ask them to go paperless, and/or
  • Give your customers a paper-free option too.

When it comes to printing, take the time to consider whether it’s truly necessary before you hit ‘send’. Do you really need a hard copy? Is it something that could be stored in the cloud? Where you can avoid it, you’ll be reducing overheads as well as your environmental impact.

Where printing’s unavoidable there are still measures you can take, such as printing double-sided and buying recycled paper.

3. Energy efficient appliances

We’re living through a technological revolution and there’s no avoiding the use of electronics at work. But, what you can do is opt for energy efficient appliances when it comes to updating what you’ve got.

Nearly all new electronic appliances have an energy star rating, so shop around and compare the market to make an informed decision on which is going to reduce your environmental impact the most.

Don’t forget, you can make your use of electronics more efficient too by always turning them off when they’re not in use. There’s such a thing as ‘phantom energy’ which is the electricity drawn from outlets by devices even after they’ve been turned off, and you can avoid this by unplugging your appliances when you’re finished for the day.

4. Carpool or cycle to work

You can reduce pollution by creating a carpool scheme at work - i.e. if multiple staff members are coming from the same direction encourage them to lift share.

Alternatively, if the commute isn’t too far, cycling to work is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and boost people’s wellbeing - it’s actually been linked to improved cognitive function, vascular health, and a better nights sleep.

Both of these options reduce not only pollution but travel expenses too. What’s not to like?

5. Clean green

The chemicals present in the majority of cleaning products can have a harmful effect on the environment as well as your health. Switch these to non-toxic green products to protect your skin and the environment from dangerous ingredients.

6. Look at lighting

Firstly, to avoid wasting electricity on artificial alternatives, make use of natural light where possible by:

  1. Ensuring any windows are unobstructed, and
  2. Lights aren’t on when they don’t need to be.

Second, consider installing motion sensors on lights so if no-one’s in the room the lights go off automatically.

Thirdly, if you have just a couple of people working in a large space at a time, could desk lamps be a viable alternative to lighting the entire space?

And finally, always make use of energy efficient light bulbs!

7. Think ink

Not only in terms of how much you print, but how you source your ink. You can get your ink cartridges refilled instead of buying new ones when your printer runs out of ink and this reduces the amount of plastic you consume and saves you money too - we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, win-win!

8. Source locally

When it comes to sourcing new products for your business, look locally first. If you can find a vendor that’s nearby you’ll be reducing the carbon footprint of your delivery as well as supporting a local business, which could be a great selling point to customers.

If what you need can’t be bought nearby, look for an eco-friendly supplier where possible. If it’s coffee you’re buying, for example, go for the FairTrade option. 

9. Insulate

Make sure you’re not wasting energy and money by insulating your workplace efficiently. Check your windows are properly sealed and effectively glazed so heat can’t escape. Rugs are also a great way to seal in the heat, meaning you need less energy to keep your space warm.

Proper insulation will save you money on your utility bills and make you more environmentally friendly.

Top Tip: Many businesses or government agencies offer low-cost or sometimes free energy audits. They’ll visit your business and identify ways you might be wasting energy.

10. Encourage employees

Make a point of all your new green initiatives and encourage buy-in from your workforce. Whether you send out an email detailing the new practices or call a quick meeting to fill people in, make it clear you expect everyone to pull their weight.

If you’ve got the budget, you could buy everyone in the office a reusable water bottle, for example, to discourage single use plastics. Or stick posters above all the taps reminding people not to waste water. You might even reward employees who go above and beyond in their green efforts (i.e. with an early finish or a sweet treat) as a way to incentivise everyone else.

Ready to make your payments greener?

With our virtual terminals you can take card payments over the phone, so gone are the days where you have to travel and add to your carbon footprint to get paid - for more information on virtual terminals head here.

And with our card machines, physical receipts are optional so you don’t have to worry about handing out and hoarding stacks of paper to keep track of your transactions, it’s all stored online.

To find out more about all our options, get in touch on 0808 274 2017.

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