Home10 easy ways for your business to go green in 2023

10 easy ways for your business to go green in 2023

In July 2023, scientists confirmed that the month would end as Earth’s hottest month on record. In response, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said “the era of global warming has ended, the era of global boiling has arrived.” He urged global action on emissions, climate adaptation and climate finance.

Scientists are clear that humans are a contributing factor. Since 1880, the average global temperature has increased by at least 1.1c. * Each of the last three decades have been hotter than the previous. And our atmosphere, oceans, and land are warming.

As temperatures continue to rise, we can expect more severe and widespread effects. In the UK, that means warmer and wetter winters. Hotter and drier summers. And more frequent weather extremes.

Worldwide, we’ve already seen catastrophic weather events and wildfires. Warmer temperatures will mean more flooding, wildfires, and damage to marine ecosystems. And, as crop conditions change, we’re also likely to experience food scarcity.

Why is the Earth’s temperature rising, and what can we do about it?

The current rise in temperature is a result of pollution trapping sunlight. It acts like a greenhouse, causing the planet to warm and making weather extremes worse.

Despite the UN’s announcement, they say it’s “still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5c and avoid the very worst of climate change.” But they stress it’s “only with dramatic and immediate climate action.”

The UK Government has a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. And companies have a huge part to play. Regardless of whether you’re a global manufacturing organisation, or one-person service business.

With public opinion moving towards sustainability, it also makes good business sense. These days, more customers are looking for eco-friendly brands to buy from. So, taking steps to green up your business is good for the environment. But it’s also good for your brand image and competitive advantage.

Check out our previous blog post on sustainable strategies

Some Barnsley businesses may be eligible to join our Net Zero Accelerator. This offers free and intensive support to help reduce carbon emissions.

But we also have lots of online information and resources for those not eligible. Starting here with ten easy ways to make your business more eco-friendly.

  1. Think about travel

Private transport is one of the world’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases. So changing the daily commute can have a big impact. And it has a positive side effect on employee health, wellbeing, and productivity.

  • Offer benefits for travelling via public transport, cycling, walking, or running.
  • Install bike racks and showers for those cycling and running to work.
  • Encourage lift sharing, or use of a scheme such as Liftshare.
  • Provide electric vehicle charging points.
  • Encourage remote working, where possible.
  • Sign up to the Cycle to Work Scheme, which gives employees discounts on bikes and equipment.
  • Reduce unnecessary travel by having remote/virtual meetings.
  • Consider electric vehicles for the company car fleet.

Barnsley’s Active Travel Hub has great information and facilities. It’s located in the Transport Interchange in the centre of town.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Providing recycling facilities is a great first step towards making your business greener. These days, we’re used to recycling at home, so it makes sense to encourage it in the workplace.

  • Make recycling easy and put recycling bins in various locations around the workplace.
  • Give employees branded reusable cups and lunchboxes to reduce single-use plastics. It’s also great marketing!
  • Provide reusable utensils for lunch.
  • Donate old equipment such as functioning old laptops and printers to community organisations.
  • Reduce single-use plastics and packaging, encouraging the use of recycled materials.
  • Reduce waste in company operations, including water waste.

Reduce your digital impact

You may think that digital systems have a minimal impact on the environment. But, in 2020, the BBC reported that the carbon footprint of our internet and digital systems was 3.7% of global emissions. Shockingly, the figure was equal to that of the airline industry. Worse still, it was set to double by 2025.

The reason is because our tech takes energy to produce and run. Data storage – even via the cloud – is on huge servers which need energy to run and keep cool.

  • Use a green search engine such as Ecosia which plants trees for every search.
  • Save energy by shutting down tech at night when it’s not needed.
  • Turn off videos during online meetings when you don’t need to interact (eg. during presentations) as this will save energy.
  • Use green web hosting, powered by renewable energy.
  • Check the complexity of your website. Complex websites use more energy as each time a user makes an action, requests are sent to the server.
  • Think about the colour scheme of your website. Darker colours use less energy than lighter ones.
  • Delete online files which are no longer required. This reduces the amount of data stored in the data centres.
  • When equipment fails, try repairing or buying second hand before replacing with new.

Consider energy efficiency

Energy is a big business expense, so reducing consumption can be great for the bottom line. But it’s a double win as it’s also better for the environment.

  • Encourage employees to save energy by switching off lights and computers when not in use.
  • Switch to LED lighting which uses less energy.
  • Install motion sensitive lights which automatically switch off when the building is empty.
  • Use smart energy management systems for heating.
  • Make the most of natural light, and paint walls in a bright colour to reflect light.
  • Open windows to let fresh air in during summer instead of using air conditioning for cooling.

Many companies on our Net Zero Accelerator looked into solar panel installation. If that’s not an option for you, consider using a green energy supplier.

  • Partner with other eco-conscious businesses

Reducing the carbon footprint in your supply chain can help reduce your environmental impact. Choice of supplier and raw material procurement is an obvious step, but there are others.

  • Local sourcing can help reduce your carbon footprint and support your local economy. It also shortens your supply chain and lowers shipping costs. Plus, there is less likelihood of needing to tie capital up in raw materials.
  • Involve suppliers, keeping them up to date on your environmental goals. This includes information on how they can help.
  • Work with like-minded suppliers who share your green initiative.
  • Combine deliveries or work with fewer suppliers, meaning fewer deliveries and lower emissions.
  • Use data analysis to work out where to make carbon reduction in your supply chain.
  • Consider ethical banking and investments.

When baselining your carbon emissions, suppliers fall into Scope 3 emissions. If you’d like to understand more, get in touch to chat about our Net Zero Accelerator.

  • Go paperless

Going paperless means using less paper and printer ink. It also means you’ll need less storage space, and there will be a reduction in waste.

  • Use digital documents and cloud storage.
  • Encourage electronic communication and collaboration.
  • Send documents electronically, including meeting notes.
  • Avoid using paper memos.
  • Introduce paperless billing and invoicing.
  • Consider digital sign-off, fillable PDF forms, and online ordering.

When going paperless, remember to protect your data with good security software. And back up all your files regularly.

  • Replace everyday products with green alternatives

Many cleaning products now have natural alternatives. These are often safer for your health and better for the planet.

  • Gradually replace cleaning products with greener options.
  • Use eco-friendly toilet roll and kitchen roll.
  • Look for recycled or FSC approved printer paper.
  • Consider buying second hand furniture for the office.
  • Source recycled or sustainable office supplies.
  • Use sustainable packaging

Packaging is a major part of the process for companies selling and shipping products.

But today’s consumers hate packaging material that ends up in landfill. They want to buy from brands offering sustainable packaging and will often pay a premium.

  • Use less packaging.
  • Look for recycled paper and cardboard packaging.
  • Consider compostable packaging that means zero waste at end of life.
  • Offer products in reusable packaging such as cloth bags.
  • Ship in smaller packages, reducing costs and resources.
  • Share disposal and recycling best practices for your packaging.
  • Combine products, meaning less deliveries and lower emissions.
  • Avoid using mixed materials which make it difficult to recycle.
  • Create a green culture in the workplace

Employees are increasingly looking to work for ethical companies. And creating a green culture can lead to greater employee engagement and productivity.

  • Educate employees on green practices and procedures.
  • Involve employees and ask for ideas on ways to improve sustainability.
  • Encourage environmentally conscious habits.
  • Develop green targets, keeping employees engaged and motivated to follow new initiatives.
  • Recognise and reward green initiatives by employees.
  • Create an environmental resource group.
  • Make an indoor green space with plants, helping reduce stress in the workplace. Plants also boost oxygen levels and remove harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide.

10. Collaborate with your local community or an environmental charity

Part of a green culture can include supporting local community and environmental events. It’s great marketing for your company and helps with teamwork and employee engagement.

  • Give monetary donations to local environmental charities.
  • Prevent unused items going to landfill by donating them to local community organisations.
  • Donate a percentage of sales or profit to a specific charity or environmental cause.
  • Sponsor green initiatives or events.
  • Get involved in environmental events. These could include community clean ups, tree planting, or community gardening.
  • Use eco-friendly certifications and labels.

Final thoughts

Doing an environmental assessment is a useful way to get started on your green journey. It will identify your current impact and allow you to set goals for the future. We offer Barnsley businesses help with this through our Net Zero Accelerator.

You can then check improvements by tracking and measuring progress against your goals.

Sharing your sustainability journey with others is a great marketing technique. The steps you take will interest employees, customers, and suppliers alike. Celebrate your successes and share how you’re helping the planet. But avoid green washing.

Finally, remember that every step, no matter how small, counts in the journey towards sustainability.

* Source: NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)

Get in touch with Kevin Steel

Business Development Manager, The Business Village

Email: ksteel@BarnsleyBIC.co.uk

Phone: 01226 249 590