Easy and effective ways to go green

As well as helping the planet, improving your environmental performance also makes good business sense. Here’s how you can do it.

With climate change moving further up the news agenda every day, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions. As a result, businesses who operate in an environmentally responsible way can steal a march on the competition – while those who refuse to change are likely to be left behind.

Improving sustainability can seem like a huge task, but there are some relatively simple steps you can take which can have a big impact.

Consider travel and transport

Travel and transport can make a huge contribution to your carbon emissions, so doing your best to reduce business-related travel can give your sustainability rating a significant boost. Use modern technology such as Skype and video conferencing to conduct face-to-face meetings without having to travel between sites and, where travel is necessary, encourage all employees to travel by public transport wherever possible. And apply the same thinking to the commute – make it easy for staff to travel sustainably by offering incentives such as season ticket loans and cycle to work schemes.

Get staff buy-in

When it comes to improving your environmental performance, your employees can either be your biggest asset or your biggest obstacle. Going green often requires a significant culture change, so it’s important to get your staff on-board from the very beginning. Give them the opportunity to get involved at an early stage by asking for ideas and suggestions on how to improve sustainability – this will give them a sense of ownership and help to keep them engaged with the project in the longer term. And don’t forget to celebrate successes; internal competitions and prizes for good performance will help to make sustainability fun, rather than just another thing on everyone’s to-do list.

Embrace modern working practices

In recent years we have seen a big shift towards more flexible working practices – and embracing this modern working culture can be an easy and effective way to reduce your company’s impact on the environment. Allowing employees to regularly work from home helps to reduce the amount of rush hour traffic on the roads, as well as cutting energy use in your company buildings – which in turn saves you money and cuts carbon. Flexible working policies are also highly valued by employees, so this is one measure they’re sure to get on board with.

Pursue accreditation

Making improvements to your environmental performance can be a difficult task and it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed and lose motivation, particularly if you don’t quickly see the impact of your efforts. To help keep you focused and on-track, consider pursuing an environmental accreditation or certification such as ISO 14001. The ISO 14001 requirements will give you key actions and milestones to work towards, enabling you to measure your progress and ensure you’re heading in the right direction.

Green your supply chain

It’s easy to overlook, but greening your supply chain should form a key part of your sustainability strategy. Take a good look at your procurement policies and supplier contracts to ensure that you are buying as sustainably as possible, paying particular attention to elements such as packaging, use of materials and delivery methods. Making improvements in these areas can have a big impact on your overall performance.

Aim for continuous improvement

By implementing the above steps, you should see significant improvements in your business’ environmental performance – but it’s important not to grow complacent and rest on your laurels. Going green requires continuous improvement and long-term commitment – so always ask yourself ‘what else can we do?’ and ‘what can we do better?’. This desire to go the extra mile and make positive changes will help your company to be as sustainable as it can possibly be.

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