Going green is big business

Diane Hall

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Group of furn trees

It’s well known that we don’t create or make as much as we used to in the UK. However, it may still be a surprise to learn that the country’s green economy is four times the size of our manufacturing sector.


It’s also still growing. More so, as the climate change message continues to sink in with people of influence.


Any company worth its salt will have some green credentials on their website or within their operational processes. Recycling, energy saving, biofuels…these are just basic initiatives many companies employ to show that they’re mindful of the environment.


As well as making the world a cleaner, more sustainable place, incorporating green measures also creates jobs for people. It’s genuinely difficult to see a downside, particularly as the cost of such initiatives and technologies is becoming cheaper all the time.


So, what can smaller companies do to embrace the green movement?


Streamline

Not only will making your business more efficient help it to become more resilient, it will also shave pounds off your operating costs. Technology has the potential to make our lives easier and less labour intensive. If the energy this new technology uses is renewable, it’s a win/win for the environment.


It’s much easier to send documents electronically, for example, than have a courier shlep it across town and country. It also cuts down on waste, as no paper nor printing ink is involved.


The carbon footprint of your company is something that can be measured—and something that, most likely, can be reduced. Instead of travelling to meetings, use Zoom and other video conferencing tools. Encourage your employees to commute via public transport or by bicycle if possible. Another initiative is to foster remote working or a hybrid alternative, i.e. some time working from home and some days in the office.


Choose suppliers that uphold these principles

The more companies that follow a green regime, the better. If you follow such practices for the betterment of society and longevity of our environment, your work may be sullied if you then choose suppliers who don’t care a jot for the planet.


Having values as a company is as much about what you do than what you say. Opt to work with companies whose ethe mirror yours—you’ll both look more principled, honest and committed as a result.


Using local suppliers will reduce the carbon emissions of both your enterprises.

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Cardboard cutout in the shape of recycling symbol on grass

Cardboard cutout in the shape of recycling symbol on grass

Recycle

Many businesses sell products that require some form of packaging. Though it may cost more, recyclable packaging (where possible) should be first on your list of priorities. The positive PR from such a move will be worth the extra effort, and any additional costs can either be offset by streamlining practices or built into the product’s RRP—responsible consumers will choose your offering over those from your less-green competitors.


Make sure to recycle waste from your business responsibly. Use second-hand equipment if possible (your business will thank you, in terms of cost savings).


Practise what you preach

It’s all well and good asking your employees to use public transport, but if you rock up to the office in a gas-guzzling Land Rover that pours out plumes of black smoke, you’ll lose the respect of your workforce. If you appear to be completely committed to climate change, a better environment and the green economy at work, it’s difficult to explain or justify poor environmental decisions in your personal life. You’re either invested or not—you can’t just turn it on for PR purposes without it coming back to bite you.


At the moment, any environmental action is on the heads of individual CEOs and company owners. Would things be better if the initiatives we’ve mentioned above became law?


According to The Guardian, ‘the current ad hoc nature of the low carbon economy, with some sectors and regions racing ahead while others are being left behind, has raised fears that existing inequalities could be entrenched unless the government sets out a clear plan.’


Would the planet benefit from every business being on the same (recycled) page? Should it be something the government insists upon? Are we all doing enough, considering the climate crisis we’re currently living through?


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