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How to make your business more sustainable

March 3, 2019

4 steps you can take in order to work in a greener and much more sustainable office

It is no secret that the world is being affected by global warming, sugar coat it anyway you want, these facts are not going to change.

However it can also be noted that we are the first generation of humans that are actually taking into consideration how our everyday actions impact the world. We are aware of the damage humans have caused to this planet and now we are doing something about it.

So you might be thinking how can you as a business owner make a change in the day to day operations of the office or company premises in order to promote a greener and more sustainable environment.

Business sustainability describes how businesses owners manage environmental, social and financial factors to make sure that their business is ethical and environmentally friendly. It can be a challenge to make a business environmentally friendly on a budget. However, we have a few ways which may help you to improve the sustainability of your business. Being sustainable is a huge trend at the minute, and being on trend is vital to remaining competitive in your market. But, how can you do it?

1. Reuse and Recycle

One of the most effective ways to promote a greener working space is to implement a recycling system. Offices sometimes don’t account for the amount of waste they produce. This can all be reduced.

Most offices will need to use paper in some way, shape or form. It is inevitable. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be careless with what you do with your wastage. Encourage recycling throughout the office, set up specific bins for your paper/plastic wastage and take the time to make sure they get sent to the appropriate recycling facilities.

Encourage people to recycle more by offering incentives to those actively getting involved with the recycling. When working in buildings that have a great number of different businesses working in them, you might find that they do not have the appropriate recycling system set in place so you might need to do most of the leg work yourself.

The important thing to remember, is that persistence is key and that even though you might be tempted to just throw stuff in the bin. Keep in mind that every little positive action you make, has a huge impact on the health of this planet.

Moving onto re-use. It's no secret that we as humans are partial to a bit of consumerism. We get a buzz from purchasing new things and being surrounded by fresh and shiny things. But, this need to buy new things also creates a need to make new things. So the vicious circle starts, the production process usually produces more CO2 and wastes more water.

So how might you avoid getting trapped into the tempting consumer circle. Easy; you resist the urge to kit out your office with the latest gadgets and gear and go purchase reused, refurbished equipment instead.

There are many office essentials that you can get that have been reused and refurbished. A perfect example of this is refurbished printers. There are many benefits to buying a refurbished printer, and one of them is the impact purchasing one has on the environment.

There are also many fantastic charities that give secondhand furniture another use. Going to one of these to find the basics such as tables and chairs could not only save you money but it also benefits the charity that you purchase it from.

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2. Reducing Waste

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We know, you’ve heard it all before from the banks. Go paperless, get your statements online. But they’ve got a point! By going paperless and keeping your records, stock takes, rotas etc online, you’re saving a lot of paper and a lot of trees. On top of that, working with a computer is so much quicker than with paper. You can pull up any file you need within seconds, and who doesn’t like to save time?

Sometimes you just have to print things off. But what you might not know is around 50% of a businesses’ waste is paper waste. That is a lot of trees! Try and save on this by recycling your paper. If it’s confidential waste, shred it and then recycle. If you’re a bar, why not swap your plastic straws for paper ones and then recycle them. Trust us on this, your environment-savvy customers will love it!

We’ve got one word for you – PLASTIC. It’s David Attenborough’s enemy, and it’s ruining our planet. The amount of plastic we waste per year in the UK is around 5 million tonnes. With plastic taking up to 500 years to decompose, this is a bit of a problem. It’s easy to say you can’t change this figure on your own, but as a business you can make a huge difference.

Think of it this way – if you change your plastic sandwich wrappers for paper bags, and you sell 30 sandwiches a day, that’s 30 less plastic bags floating in the sea. That’s just one day. Think of the number you can save in a year. Doesn’t seem so trivial now does it? Swap plastic disposable forks for wooden ones, plastic bags for paper, give a discount for customers bringing reusable coffee cups instead of using the ones you provide. As Tesco say, every little helps.

3. Save energy

Another great step forward into becoming the greener office of tomorrow and this is to save energy. In reality it’s such a simple process that most people forget on a daily basis. By taking the time out to actually turn off the use of electricity that isn’t necessary.

Reducing the amount of energy you use as a business will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but will save you money too. Simple things like turning off your lights at night, turning off coffee machines when they’re not in use, shutting down computers instead of putting them on standby. These might seem trivial, but they’ll save you money in the long run, whilst also saving the planet. What’s not to love?

Unplugging machines that aren’t being used, instead of leaving them on standby can make a huge difference to the amount of energy you don’t waste.

Maybe it might even be work switching to a renewable energy supplier. Filling workplace with the energy of the future, because the reality is that this energy will be needed in the near future.

Have you thought of using a hosted phone system? This reduces your office electricity consumption dramatically. All the computing power is done off site in a data centre, more efficient use of electric.  

Another way to save energy, especially when it comes to heating is to buy timers or get a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats can be trained to understand the buildings preferences and will adjust itself accordingly. This can save on a ton of energy and money in the long run.

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4. Bring Nature into the office

There are a great deal of benefits that we get naturally on this fantastic planet. So another way to go green, is to embrace nature to its fullest potential. So what do we mean when we say this?

Well one great first step is to bring in some plants and greenery into the office. Not only do these plants make the office look nicer, they also contribute to the office air. Plants are known for their positive impact on the atmosphere. They absorb the CO2 and release clean oxygen into the air, giving your employees and yourself quality breathing space. Going back to the fact they look nice, by surrounding yourselves with nice things to look at such as plants, this also promotes good mental health.

Another way of bringing nature into the workplace is to flood each room with natural light. Even on those days when the sky is overcast, let that light in. Natural light is an excellent source of vitamin D and also helps when it comes to saving energy as you won’t need to turn the lights on during the middle of the day.

Surrounding yourself and your team with nature helps with the production of endorphins and so creates a happy workspace and a more productive one too. So not only are you making your office greener but you are also increasing production rates throughout too.

In 2007 the BBC aired a special programme presented by Sir David Attenborough called “Climate Change – Britain Under Threat”, it included a weather forecast for a “typical summer’s day” in 2020, click here to see the image. Considering we are coming closer to 2020 we need to start taking things into perspective about how the climate change is affecting our planet and with 2018’s summer being the hottest on record, maybe Sir David Attenborough’s predictions are not too far off the mark. 

The time to act is now.