Increasing environmental sustainability can be a key measure for a business’ corporate social responsibility. Even small and micro businesses can take steps to reduce the impact of climate change by adopting environmentally sustainable habits.
A starting point for addressing the carbon footprint of business is to assess current carbon emissions. There are many tools on the internet to assist including The Carbon Neutral Company’s Business Carbon Calculator.
When purchasing stationery and other business supplies, look for recycled products, it is possible to purchase recycled paper, pens, pencils, paper towels and toilet rolls. As well as purchasing recycled paper, set printers to default to printing on both sides of the page. Printing on both sides of a sheet of paper potentially doubles the output from a ream of paper.
As well using recycled paper, printers, photocopiers and multifunction devices can also use recycled toner cartridges. To absorb some of the pollutants from the electrical equipment in an office, place plants around the site. A plant acts as a natural air filter and also has benefits for staff members.
Turning equipment off when not in use, reduces the energy required by the business and can assist to keep costs down by reducing energy bills. Other ways to decrease the environmental impact of the energy requirements of business include: switching to renewable energy sources and analysing the energy efficiency of production tasks and equipment used in the business.
When computers, printers, machinery and telecommunications systems have reached the end of their functional business life, rather than dumping them in landfill, there are programs that will recycle the equipment and extend its functional life.
Human resources is another area where businesses can reduce their carbon footprint. By using initiatives such as telecommuting, where an employee connects to the organisation’s computer network and works from home rather than coming into the office, can reduce the pollution from employee commutes and decrease the energy used by the business. Telecommuting programs can also increase staff morale as they allow a greater flexibility in work practices.
Instead of arranging conferences and conventions, the environmentally sustainable option is to utilise the technology provided by Web 2.0 and hold video and web conferences. Using internet based technology enables businesses to have all the advantages of face to face communication without the carbon load of air or vehicle travel.
Another option to address the carbon footprint of business operations without making any of the changes listed above is to purchase carbon offset credits. These credits are an investment in environmentally friendly projects, such as tree planting projects, and are a form of compensation to the environment for the harm caused by business operations. Businesses can choose to reduce their carbon footprint by implementing some of the strategies listed above and also purchase carbon offset credits to compensate for operational areas where it is economically not viable to reduce carbon output.
There are many simple measures to reduce your carbon footprint in the business environment from choosing recycled products to initiating telecommuting programs for staff or purchasing carbon offset credits.