Developing an eco-minded business, however, is not an easy endeavor. First, you need to understand the operations in your company that need to be changed, and then you will need to create a roadmap. If you go for effectiveness, the planned measures must be sustainable, otherwise, you risk ruining your business.
Understanding carbon footprint
A carbon footprint is the volume of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to a person or an entity. Daily activities, such as cooking, traveling, and lighting the house, are the most significant contributors at an individual level. However, business entities generally contribute much more greenhouse emissions than individuals and households. Therefore, any business that intends to become eco-friendly must start by calculating its carbon footprint and then creating a plan to reduce it.
To calculate your business’s carbon footprint, you will need the following set of data collected for at least one year:
- Electricity consumed in kilowatt-hours
- Natural gas usage, also in kilowatt-hours
- The volume of water supplied and used by the business
- Company vehicles’ fuel usage
- Distance traveled by employees (estimate if you can’t get an exact figure)
- Total waste produced by business
You can hire a consultant to calculate your business’s GHG emissions and provide them this data. They can also help you create a strategy to reduce GHG emissions. Alternatively, you can calculate the GHG emissions yourself using online apps or convert the raw data to government-provided emission factors.
Reducing your company’s carbon footprint
Almost every business operation contributes to its carbon footprint. Therefore, a strategy to reduce GHG emissions will require you to assess and change various aspects of your operations. Some areas may require minor changes, some big changes, but the accumulated benefits are significant.
1. Reduce power consumption
Most of the electric power sold to consumers is still produced using fossil fuels, making electricity consumption one of the top contributors to carbon footprint for most businesses. Reducing the energy your business consumes will reduce your carbon footprint, as well as the power bills.
Switching off lights when there is no one on the premises, using energy-efficient bulbs and appliances, and using natural light will have a significant impact.
For better results – get an energy audit to assess your business’s energy efficiency. The audit report will help you create a more effective and sustainable energy-saving plan.
2. Recycle and Reuse
Do you use any products made of plastic, metal, or other durable materials? Most of these products can be used more than once for the same purpose or be repurposed for other office functions.
Non-reusable items can be recycled internally – if your business is capable, or sent to a recycling company. This can be applied to all types of non-toxic, recyclable waste.
3. Digitize some operations
Most processes at work can be digitized. There are a myriad of apps, for instance, that can help you organize your budget, and keep track of activities at work. Using such apps will reduce paper waste, energy used for printing, and save your employees time.
4. Reduce traveling
Traveling arrangements for employees are also contributing to a business’s carbon footprint. Where possible, hold meetings online. They reduce travel-related carbon footprint but are also more time-efficient due to a more focused format.