Climate change is the big issue and businesses are keen to hone their green credentials and do their bit. With many unsure how to act, we provide some fast solutions.
1. Reduce resource use
There are four ways to tackle waste: prevention, reduction, re-use and recycling. These are interconnected and will save you money. Take paper use for instance. By setting all printers to use both sides of the paper you reduce waste and costs by 50%. Re-using printed paper and then recycling it afterwards further improves your environmental standing. If you then apply this logic to all your purchasing, major gains can be made. Also, consider using second-hand items. Companies such as Green Works empty closing offices and then re-sell items while ensuring quality. This can drastically cut the costs of refurbishment.
Different industries can utilise this tactic to varying levels. If you have a lot (tonnes) of scrap materials, such as wood or metal, then you can make money by selling this waste on to merchants. However, for most of you reducing the cost of your waste removal is normally possible by separating it first. Separate bins for different types of paper or aluminium cans are all steps in the right direction.
Monitor and measure
As the adage goes: ‘if you don’t monitor it then you can’t manage it’. So get some accurate figures regarding your spending on energy and other main resources. Regular meter readings are useful and will help you spot if power is used unnecessarily. Setting up a spreadsheet can help you monitor usage over a long period and assess if measures designed to reduce energy waste are actually working. If you share offices with other businesses and can’t get separate meter readings then you can buy socket meters for about £15.
Probably the most important part of the process. Larger businesses set up environmental teams comprised of members of each department, whereas small firms can give responsibility to one enthusiastic person. But the whole company needs to be on board and this may require incentives. One firm offered an iPod to staff who come up with the best idea for greening up – emails are easy to delete, but not when there’s an iPod in it! Also, if you are serious about the environment, then include it on the agenda of your board meeting.
Keeping the ball rolling isn’t easy and some use third parties such as Green Mark (GM). In its earliest form GM will look at your legal compliance, good practice and areas where you might be able to improve. It will also examine your company’s awareness and communications strategy and help develop your environmental policy.
All of the above will help improve your environmental impact and in many cases save money. Most measures aren’t expensive to implement. In fact, to quote one famous eco-entrepreneur: “They don’t cost the Earth”.
The ideas in this piece were contributed by the London Environment Centre (LEC), one of the many members of LESS, which help businesses find and implement practical environmental solutions.
‘The London Environmental Support Service (LESS) (www.less-online.com) has been set up to make it easy for businesses to find someone who can show them how best to deal with the environmental challenges they face. LESS provides a free one-stop-shop for businesses to access a network of environmental support providers in London. LESS is made up of more than 30 such suppliers from both the public and private sectors and much of the support available is free of charge. Its mission is to ‘Help Businesses Profit Through Sustainability’ LESS is funded by the London Development Agency (LDA) with additional support from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).’