In today’s uber-connected and competitive commercial landscape, it’s becoming harder and harder for manufacturers to stand out from their rivals and build brand loyalty. While e-commerce and the internet have undoubtedly opened up markets and allowed firms to increase their customer base, with the amount of competition that exists online companies are having to become increasingly more inventive in how they align themselves with their potential and existing customers – and one of the best ways to do this is by proving your firm operates in an environmentally aware way.
From clothing manufacturers to energy suppliers, companies in all sectors are adapting their operations and internal policies to take a greener approach to how they work in an effort to reduce their overall carbon footprint and emissions.
The growing importance of sustainability
Scientists have warned about the potential dangers of global warming since the mid-80s, however, it’s only recently that we’ve started seeing tangible evidence of the damage we’ve been inflicting on our planet. Indeed, the impending climate catastrophe has garnered so much attention in recent years that 196 parties assembled in Paris in 2015 to collectively commit to the potentially ground-breaking Paris Agreement.
The aims of the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement confirms a collective commitment by the partner nations to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit temperature increases this century to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels – but with the general aim of keeping them to 1.5 degrees. This legally binding treaty was signed at COP 21 (21st Conference of the Parties) in Paris on 12th December 2015 by the world’s biggest nations.
How eco-awareness is shaping markets
With so much media attention now focussed on climate change, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the damage their lifestyles and, in particular, their shopping habits are having a detrimental effect on the health of the planet. From reducing meat consumption to avoiding plastics and buying from more sustainable brands, customers are more knowledgeable today about their carbon footprint and are starting to vote with their wallets. Big or small, established or just starting out – no firm is immune to this growing consumer movement so it’s critical you act now if your company hasn’t already established greener working policies.
Simple steps you can take to improve your firm’s green credentials
Making your company eco-friendlier needn’t necessarily involve massive upheaval or huge alterations to how you already work. Indeed, even the smallest changes can bring the greatest rewards and benefits. Moreover, by adapting to a more sustainable business model, you won’t just help in the fight to save the planet – you’ll also help future-proof your firm for the years to come, plus will likely reduce your overall running costs.
Below are just some of the measures you could adopt into your general operations that could have a massive effect and make your firm more environmentally friendly.
Study your firm’s existing operations for problems: By taking a ground-up audit of your firm’s current work policies, you’ll likely expose areas with space for considerable improvement in terms of how you operate. Obvious areas to consider include your energy and water consumption, disposal of materials and use of transportation. As a rule, you should try to work to the four Rs – reduce, reuse, repair, recycle.
Choose a green energy supplier: While cleaner energy used to be more expensive, with the considerable incentives and bonuses available to energy companies these days, prices are tumbling. Governments the world over are actively pushing power companies to produce energy in more efficient ways and, in turn, encouraging them to pass these savings on to their customers.
Generate your own energy: Solar and wind power are the most obvious ways for companies and individuals alike to generate their own power and the price of solar panels and wind turbines have reduced massively in the last twenty or so years. As an added bonus, if you find you create an energy surplus (i.e. produce more power than your firm eventually uses), you will be able to sell back the remainder to the grid and earn extra money.
Recycle everything you can: Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective and establishing a clear recycling policy in your firm could see you dramatically cutting your waste production while also lowering your operating costs. You should install clearly marked bins in work areas for different items to be recycled (e.g. paper, plastic, glass, metals etc) and be sure to educate your staff to do the same. Anything you can divert from being put to landfill will help. Also, depending on the size of your firm, it might be worth investing in a baling or compacting machine like those available from recyclingbalers.com, which will efficiently bundle recyclable products and reduce the space they take up.
Think of the energy efficiency of tools and appliances: When buying or upgrading equipment, tools and appliances be sure to check their energy efficiency first and also consider investing in products that have multiple uses. Even simple changes like switching to LED bulbs to light your office and workspaces can make a huge difference when taken as a whole. While these bulbs are typically slightly more expensive, they last considerably longer and will also help reduce your energy bills. Also, try to take a company-wide policy of switching off lights when rooms aren’t in use and insisting employees power down their computers and other electronics at the end of the day. Both the planet and your wallet will thank you.
Embrace cloud computing for document storage and collaboration: In recent years the advances in tech and faster connection speeds (both 5G and fixed line) have made remote cloud computing a feasible option for companies to start operating in virtual environments. By moving your firm’s digital resources to the cloud, you’ll empower your employees to become truly mobile while also drastically cutting your own individual energy use. Using the cloud will also mean you don’t need to invest in expensive server tech, which will reduce hardware waste as the technology eventually becomes obsolete. Cloud services have several advantages over traditional internal networks including serving as a central storage repository for important company files and documentation, increasing the potential for collaborative working in your firm and allowing employees to work remotely from home. Moving to the home-working model will remove the need for your staff to endure the daily commute (thereby reducing emissions) while also reducing the energy bills and rent/rates of your premises.
Minimize paper use – or go paperless: For many years we’ve heard of the dawn of the paperless office but, in truth, the notion has only really become feasible recently – and mostly because of cloud computing. At the very least, even if you don’t want to entrust your IT to a cloud partner, at least try to reduce your paper usage by printing on both sides and saving (rather than printing) files.
Think about individual and industrial transportation: If you still want to have your employees attend the workplace, try encouraging carpooling or the use of public transportation, walking or cycling to cut their emissions. You should also think about your use of industrial transportation to study if you could make greener choices – for example changing your choice of shipping company or how you receive goods or services from your suppliers.