Sustainability is hugely important for any business today. A growing number of people are taking these factors into consideration when they decide which firms to do business with, and younger consumers, in particular, are concerned about this, so being able to prove your green credentials is important to both customers and potential employees.
Indeed, one study by CGS revealed more than two-thirds of consumers aged between 18 and 24 had made an eco-friendly purchase in the last year. Overall, nearly 70% of people said that sustainability is at least 'somewhat important' to them when making a purchase, while 47% would pay more for a sustainable product.
Green initiatives to implement at work
But while adjusting your products and services to be more eco-friendly may be a big commitment, there are plenty of relatively straightforward things you can do on a day-to-day basis to improve your green business credentials. Here are a few green initiatives to consider implementing in the workplace.
1. Go paperless
One of the easiest things to do is to reduce the amount of paper in your office. It's estimated the average office worker goes through around 10,000 sheets of paper every year, and the UK alone uses some 8.6 million tons every year.
Going paperless isn't just good for the environment, however. As well as boosting your green credentials, it can:
- Boost productivity
- Reduce errors
- Cut the risk of important documents being lost or damaged
- Help you comply with regulations such as GDPR
2. Embrace video conferencing
Travel is one of the biggest contributors to a business’s carbon footprint. PwC, for example, estimated that this is its single biggest source of emissions, with almost 80% of this coming from air travel. Therefore, it pays to ask yourself whether you really need to fly around the world for a face-to-face meeting.
Turning to the latest video conferencing tools can be the next best thing to being there, with high-quality HD video and features such as screen sharing and integration with key business applications. It can also play a role in encouraging the use of home working to cut down on the emissions caused by the daily commute.
3. Use green technology providers
Another major contributor to your carbon footprint is likely to be your data center, as these draw huge amounts of energy to directly power the servers and to ensure they stay cool enough to operate. But with the number of data centers in operation around the world rising from around 500,000 in 2012 to over eight million today, they aren't something you can overlook.
However, many cloud and hosting providers are now taking steps to minimize their environmental impact through initiatives such as greater use of renewables and more energy-efficient hardware. Therefore, taking the time to investigate the green credentials of your IT partners can make a big difference to your own carbon footprint.
4. Make your operations smarter
Keeping a close eye on how you use energy within your office has never been easier, thanks to a range of smart sensors. For instance, smart meters can monitor exactly how much electricity and water you're using and can help you come up with strategies to reduce your usage.
Elsewhere, IoT sensors such as smart lighting can ensure you're not wasting energy or money by heating or lighting rooms when they aren't in use, and even give you detailed insight into usage and traffic patterns so you can see exactly how your office is being used.
5. Change up your lunchroom
Finally, what about changing up your lunch breaks as well as your working hours? One area that's got a lot more attention recently is the impact of the food sector and particularly the meat industry. Several companies have responded to this by going meat-free in their cafeterias and - while this may be controversial among some of your staff - it's a highly-visible way to show you're doing something about your firm's carbon footprint.
While following in the footsteps of the likes of WeWork by going completely vegan may not appeal to everyone, or be practical, smaller steps such as a 'meat-free Monday' initiative, or even just expanding the range of vegetarian and vegan-friendly alternatives, can go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint and making your workers think about their own habits.