In the last 10 years, the UK’s business landscape has seen a surge of interest and motivation to create a greener future. Given a boost back in 2006 by the huge impact of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, the state of our environment has been a business consideration ever since.
The UN has reported that climate change is not only altering our weather system and sea levels, but also negatively impacting our global food supply. Alongside a growing world population, there is more pressure than ever on energy, natural resources and the wider environment.
What’s your business’ impact on the environment?
When you really think about it, are you making unnecessary negative environmental impacts?
It may seem like a luxury you can’t afford, in terms of both time and investment, but there are plenty of economical measures you can undertake to ensure your business is getting a green star.
We aren’t asking you to start hugging trees or join the granola brigade; just to follow a couple of simple steps, implement a set of behavioural changes and watch as both your business and the environment reap the benefits.
As well as something you should want to do to help nurture planet Earth, there are a handful of environmental policies that companies are legally required to stick to.
Why will going green help grow business?
If you have investors, you can be sure the money men will be exploring every inch of your company – and will set a microscope on your environmental practices. How green your company is will be high on their agenda – amongst other things.
Green practices are so heavily embedded into our society’s culture that they’ve become something customers have grown to expect. Not acting in a sustainable manner could cause negative public scrutiny – and possibly dire implications.
Your bank balance cares
Changing environmental behaviours can help trim bills and make savings, as well as increase turnover, thanks to plenty of positive PR. According to government statistics, an estimated 5% of UK business profits a year may be lost through inefficient use of resources. What’s more, UK businesses could save around £23 billion a year by making simple changes to use resources more efficiently and help protect the environment.
Six things your business can do to love our planet
Encourage sustainable travel: Got a travel scheme at work? Why not reward those who cycle, walk or car share on their commute.
Create a living wall: Adding indoor foliage can improve air quality in what can often be a stale office environment.
Turn it off: Every night, without question, turn all your appliances and equipment off. Not to standby, off. Apart from the fridge, we trust the fridge.
Cut down packaging: Ever had a package arrive that can’t even get through your letterbox even though it only contains one diddy CD? Get rid of elaborate waste. Consider outsourcing your product packaging and switching to a less wasteful supplier.
Stock green: Try to use environmentally products where possible. Take a hard look at what you are currently using – are your products recyclable? Are they harmful to the environment? Avoid non-replenishable materials such as petroleum byproducts and metal.
Think local: Reduce your transport footprint dramatically by converting to local supplier. Not only is it good for the environment, it also adds a much needed boost to your local economy.
In need of some eco friendly inspiration? We’ve tracked down the best British businesses at the forefront of eco warrior action.
Citu – Sustainable construction, Leeds
Green practices are at the heart of this business. A designer and creator of sustainable housing and regeneration of older buildings, Citu preaches the benefits of leading a sustainable lifestyle. As vociferous supporters of innovation and technology, Citu uses new inventions to reduce energy when constructing and operating buildings.
MD and founder Chris Thompson said: ‘For Citu, sustainability isn’t about a political or ecological agenda, rather that it just makes sense to waste less. That ethos influences everything we do and always has done, from ensuring we waste fewer raw materials in the building process, to making homes which allow people to use less energy and save money
‘The development industry is riddled with wasteful practices and principles which are at their heart unsustainable and that is something we’re addressing, by doing things like building low carbon homes on brownfield sites.
‘We want to make homes and communities that people want to live in, so for us that is about good design and building houses which save energy and money.
‘Businesses are there to make money – embracing green practices not only makes a product more desirable but also cuts the amount of waste along the way – surely everyone wants that?
‘Implementing sustainable practices need not be an expensive or time-consuming exercise. Start with the small things, but look at every aspect of the workflow, from the very beginning to the point of sale and beyond. What about your suppliers – how sustainable are they
‘Whatever you do implement, make sure you stick to it and build upon it.’
Elan Hair Design – Environmentally friendly hairdressing, Aberdeenshire
Dubbed the UK’s most eco-friendly hair salon, this award-winning family business has fully embraced its dedication to going green.
Five years ago, owner Lorna Milton made the decision to give her salon a fully fledged green makeover, covering every fibre of the company.
And she really did encompass everything. From carbon neutral furniture to recycling aluminium foil, composting customers hair clippings to using recycled bottles – the Elan team have proved there’s no ceiling when it comes to turning your hand to green practices, initiatives can be applied to every aspect.
Since the overhaul, turnover of the business increased by 14% in 2012, 16% in 2013 and was on track to do the same in 2014. Energy bills fell by 80% in the first year and in late 2014 the business achieved a 90% reduction in their CO2 emissions.
Lorna commented: ‘We made the decision to implement the new eco-friendly approach on the back of customer feedback which indicated they wanted a greener and more sustainable service.
‘Since then the business has grown significantly with increased turnover as well as a rise in the number of customers visiting our salon.
‘We have continued to make major inroads into reducing our environmental impact. This includes putting in place initiatives which have seen us reduce our carbon emissions by 90% and increase the amount of the salon’s waste successfully diverted from landfill to 95%.
‘We believe these changes will help ensure the long-term success of the business.