What is a green business and how do you demonstrate your green credentials? Where do you begin with becoming a greener business? Do you recycle more, waste less, buy local or all of the above?
What is a ‘green’ business?
A ‘green’ business demonstrates their credentials in a number of ways but how do you build a ‘green’ image? If you want to build a community around your business, which goes beyond compliance and corporate marketing, then having an ethical basis to your work is an excellent start. Not only is this great for corporate social responsibility, but also builds team morale and credibility with your customers.
How do I demonstrate being green?
Start big. Setting a big organizational goal will help you direct your energies. By driving towards a target, whether it’s lowering fleet vehicle carbon emissions, using more renewable energy, wasting less or supporting more local initiatives, set yourself a purpose. Communicating this to the organization is key, after which you can begin to think about how your business can start to promote its new green identity.
You have your big goal, but to implement it think small, and think local. Even big corporations reach out to those around them when implementing green initiatives. As they often say, charity starts at home.
Green businesses often begin with waste, so start thinking about how you dispose of your recycling, and whether or not there are local organizations who could help you make the most of your waste disposal.
Also, try to think of local businesses with a green focus, this could be not-for-profit organizations, community groups or NGOs. Doing a search in your local area can pull up interesting results, and you can find groups that tie in with your own business outreach aims. Whether it’s helping a local organic garden get off the ground, renovating buildings for a school, or working with a youth summer scheme, the opportunities out there are endless.
Beyond giving, you can also demonstrate your business ethics in everything you do:
- Your marketing materials should be printed on recycled paper
- Email footers should remind recipients not to print
- Think about the way that you dispose of printer ink
- When buying tea and coffee for the staff, choose Fairtrade, and local where possible
Think creatively too; you could organize staff socials with a green focus. Raise some money for a local cause with a staff event, or offer employees time off in lieu for taking part in charitable activities with a green purpose. All this can be used as excellent marketing material for your corporate blog, as well as for around the office to create a great company culture.
What can I do to show it?
Start thinking green in everything you do. From how your employees get to work, to the cleaning products you use. When hosting corporate events, think organic when you select your caterers. If you have a uniform, then try to source organic, fair trade materials. If you use packaging, think recycled. There are many ways for eco-minded businesses to reduce their impact on the environment. It can become part the office culture.
Becoming a green business offers a fantastic opportunity to involve staff in the creative process too. Why not hold a short meeting and ask your employees how they would like to contribute? Or come up with a list of everything you use in the business that could be amended to become greener. Being a green business is increasingly about employee behavior. In a service led economy, your employees may be your business' biggest asset. So implementing systemic change might be about appliance usage, habits in the office space, or even how they get to work.
2016 has been an important year for climate action, with CEOs from companies around the world backing strong climate deals. Sectors ranging from financial, to oil, to fashion, are advocating increased awareness of carbon emissions and climate change. Some companies are taking this further, taking direct action to implement green strategies in their business. Don’t allow your competitors to get ahead of the game, it’s time to lead the way yourself.