Many of us are making conscious efforts to be more environmentally friendly, on both an individual level and a wider scale. 80% of small to medium sized businesses said they planned to introduce more ethical practises over the next three to five years, according to a survey from 365 Business Finance.
This sounds great on paper, but what can businesses actually do to ensure they’re more eco-friendly? Luckily, there’s plenty that can be done and many changes are incredibly easy to implement. Becoming more environmentally friendly can improve your business’s reputation, save you money and do your bit for the planet, so read on to find out more.
Many businesses have made the switch towards going entirely paperless, but you may still be wasting paper without realising. Encourage staff to only print documents if completely necessary, bearing in mind that even sensitive documents with email signatures can now be sent electronically too.
Place recycling bins in a prominent place (for example the kitchen) and remind all staff to recycle their glass, paper, cardboard and plastic where necessary. Don’t forget your electrical waste either; it’s vital that all e-waste is recycled in line with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations. Under new regulations brought in in 2019, it’s your legal duty to dispose of all electronic waste responsibly.
There are dedicated companies who can collect all e-waste on your behalf, including computers, laptops, photocopiers, printers and mobile phones. All old equipment will be recycled in a sustainable, approved way for your peace of mind.
Switch to LED lighting
Swapping traditional bulbs for LED lighting is much more energy efficient and it can save you money on electricity bills too. LED bulbs convert around 70% of their energy into light, compared to traditional incandescent bulbs that waste most of this energy as heat. Replacing just one 60 watt bulb with an LED alternative results in a reduction of around 160kg of CO2 emissions per year, so think what you’d save if you replaced all your bulbs!
LED lights also last significantly longer than traditional bulbs (around 25,000 hours compared to just 1 or 2,000). They also don’t burn out in the way that other bulbs do, instead they gradually become less bright due to lumen depreciation. This means that your bulbs could last even longer if you don’t mind a slight reduction in brightness.
Green cleaning products
Many cleaning products contain harsh toxins which can have harmful implications for the environment. These chemicals can also cause irritation on the skin or produce fumes which are unpleasant to breathe in. Consider switching to green cleaning products, which use environmentally friendly methods and ingredients in their production.
There’s a wide range of green cleaning products to choose from and they’re just as effective as products which use harsh chemicals. Green cleaning products are also more likely to use sustainable packaging, like recycled plastic or cardboard.
Alternative sources of energy include renewable options like solar panels, wind power and ground source heat pumps. These energy sources are much better for the environment and they can lower your business’s energy bills too. The cost of renewable energy can be significant, but businesses may be eligible for a grant of up to £100,000.
These energy grants are to help businesses upgrade their equipment, reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their energy bills. Grants can be used for a wide variety of upgrades and equipment, including LED lighting, solar panels, cooling pumps, air conditioning systems and more.
Add a green roof
Green roofs provide a range of economic and environmental benefits for your business and they’re particularly beneficial in crowded, urban environments. A green roof involves covering the roof of a building (completely or partially) with a waterproof membrane and a variety of plants, shrubs and trees.
Green roofs provide excellent insulation for the building beneath, which saves your business money on heating and cooling costs. The reduction in energy used to heat and cool a building is also much better for the environment and green roofs can help to improve the air quality of the surrounding area.
There’s now a wealth of sustainable, environmentally friendly products to choose from, including everything from paper and pens to furniture. Look for green stationary made from recycled materials and if you have a coffee machine, swap single use cups for reusable varieties.
If any of your appliances need replacing, look for energy efficient alternatives. Appliances like dishwashers, fridges and washing machines come with an energy efficiency rating; look for an appliance with an A+, A++ or even A+++ label.
Think about your suppliers and their environmentally friendly credentials too. Are they committed to reducing waste and lowering their carbon footprint? If a supplier doesn’t align with your eco-friendly ideals then it might be time to look elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about a company’s practices and what they’re doing to become more sustainable.
Green transport schemes
Not all employees live within walking distance of the office, so encourage green transport schemes like the government approved cycle to work scheme. This is an employee benefit that allows you to save 25-39% on a bike and cycling accessories and you don’t have to pay anything upfront.
You could also introduce employee benefits for anyone who commits to taking public transport or set up a carpool scheme to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads. The pandemic has also shown many businesses that online conferences are possible, so think twice before flying out to that next meeting.
Switch off and unplug
Anything plugged in ‘bleeds’ energy, even if the appliance is turned off. This phenomenon is even known as ‘vampire energy’ and those small increases in your electricity bill can add up over the years. Get into the habit of switching off any appliance that’s not in use and unplug it from the wall at the end of the day.
This includes computers, printers and photocopiers, or if this is too inconvenient, ensure that all appliances go on standby after a certain period of inactivity.
Add more greenery
Make your business greener (literally) by adding more plants and shrubs to the workplace. Plants and greenery have been proven to improve employee wellbeing by reducing stress, increasing concentration and improving general mood.
Plants also produce oxygen, which can improve the air quality of your workspace as well as its visual appeal. If you want to go one step further, consider planting large trees or shrubs in your business grounds.
Water is a precious resource, so conserve it where you can to save money and help the environment. Dripping taps and leaky faucets can waste surprisingly large amounts of water if left unattended, so make sure that all your plumbing is in good working order.
You might also want to implement water saving technologies to harvest rainwater and recycle wastewater where possible. These systems might collect rainwater which you can use to water your plants, or wastewater can be recycled to flush toilets in your building.
Renewable energy solutions from Ian Hobbs Technical Services
If you’re looking for ways to make your business more environmentally friendly, get in touch with the team at Ian Hobbs Technical Services. We’re proud to offer a range of renewable energy services for businesses across Bristol and Bath, including wind generators, solar thermal panels, biomass and renewable energy surveys.
Our team are on hand to give expert advice about how you could make your business more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. We can help you reduce your carbon footprint and lower your energy bills, so give us a call today or contact us via the website to find out more.