As climate change approaches a tipping point, businesses should continually work towards more environmentally sustainable business models. Even if climate change weren’t an issue, as some still believe, it just doesn’t make sense to continue to consume non-renewable resources. When you switch to renewables, you help to reduce the problems of scarcity and environmental destruction. Many businesses still view ‘going green’ as an unnecessary headache that only adds to their expenses. That’s certainly not the case and is an extremely short-term view.
Every business has their own reasons and motivation for being good environmental advocates, but whatever they are, every measure taken to lessen your impact on the environment will result in benefits to your business in the long run. Firstly, it will improve its sustainability. The simplest and quickest way to becoming less of a burden on the planet is by reducing the amount of resources your business consumes. If you are less dependent on natural resources than your competitors and have ways to deal with rising power costs due to climate change, your business will have a greater chance of long-term success. Not only will this reduction be better for profitability, it will help in conserving non-renewable resources.
Secondly, good practice can attract new customers. Promoting your environmentally friendly credentials can set your business apart from your competitors and attract new customers who want to buy products and services from an environmentally aware business. By making your business’s efforts to go green a part of your marketing, and emphasising the fact that you are attempting to be environmentally friendly, can gain the favour of like-minded consumers. Start talking about all the green things you’re doing on your website and in other marketing material. Things like using recycled products or changing your manufacturing processes to ones that are safer for the environment. Focusing more on your environmental impacts can also help to attract and retain staff. But before making any environmental claims about what you do, you should read the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s green marketing and the Australian Consumer Law about any claims you make on labelling, packaging or in your advertising.
Finally, making your business environmentally friendly will save you money. There are many simple things that businesses can do and areas where they can reduce and save. Practices like reducing paper usage by choosing double-sided printing and encouraging employees to do more on screen, and print less in the first place, is a good start. Another way of reducing your paper consumption is by going electronic. Take your record keeping and customer communications to the cloud and save on paper usage as well as printing and filing expenses. Reducing power consumption is where some of the biggest cost savings are. Simple things like shutting off lights and computers when they’re not in use. Switch to more energy efficient appliances with Energy Star ratings to help lower consumption. Lighting also accounts for a large proportion of most business energy bills. Try switching from incandescent to LED lights to reduce your replacement costs and lower your expenses. And when designing the layout of your office space, try and maximise natural light indoors to reduce your dependence on artificial lighting. Consider large windows, skylights and glass doors if possible to allow more light in. Also using curtains or blinds to let the sun in during winter and block it out during summer, will also help keep those heating and cooling costs down. Use fresh air from open windows if you can to avoid air-conditioning costs.
Business travel that requires flying, whether local or international, has a huge impact on consumption of fossil fuels and can be extremely expensive. Reduce or eliminate this completely by opting instead for Skype or video conferencing with clients, partners or employees based in different locations. There are many free communication alternatives to expensive business trips. If your business manufactures, then try and reduce the amount of packaging your product uses to keep costs down or switch to eco-friendly packaging to lower your environmental footprint. Stop using plastic or paper cups for coffee and switch to ceramic mugs that can be reused. Install low flow faucets and toilets in your office to reduce wastage of water. These are just a few of the things that can be done. It really doesn’t make sense to continue to consume non-renewable resources, and nearly every measure taken to reduce your impact on the environment will benefit your business in the long run.