It can sometimes feel like the changes small businesses make in the face of climate change are insignificant when compared to inaction from giant corporations. However, lots of small actions can lead to a big change.
There are also concerns about costs when it comes to greening a business – when in fact, there are financial advantages to going green. On top of that, SMEs can boost their reputation with environmentally conscious customers.
Last month, we gave you Five ways to green your business and save money. Here are four more practical ways you can make a difference as an SME owner.
There are plenty of benefits of switching to cloud computing. An often overlooked one is that it’s more environmentally friendly than having your own physical servers. Cloud-based applications allow employees to access information remotely, which can lead to reduced travel costs and less need for printing hard copies of documents.
Your cloud capacity adapts as your needs fluctuate, so you only use as much as your business requires. If your data is hosted in the cloud, you also won’t have to purchase and take care of electricity-hungry servers. As more can be done on mobile devices, you may even see a reduced need for desktop computing equipment.
There are green options for commuting such as walking or cycling, however, commuting by car is sometimes the only realistic choice available to people. Encouraging employees to work from home one day a week means less traffic on the roads and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Employees may also be grateful for a day without commuting.
It could save your business money if you usually reimburse travel costs and would mean fewer people using office utilities. Technology for virtual meetings is widely available and easy to set up these days, plus it’s increasingly common due to companies operating internationally. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting is the only sensible option, but even a small reduction in commuting could lead to environmental benefits and potentially happier employees.
There’s an ongoing public drive to use fewer single-use plastic items. Despite this, office bins can quickly become full of single-use rubbish. After making a coffee, an employee may end up throwing away a coffee pod, a paper cup with a plastic lid, a wooden stirrer, a napkin, a single-serve milk carton, and a sugar/sweetener packet. That’s a lot of waste per person per coffee. Choosing recyclable eco-friendly products can benefit an SME’s bottom line as well as reducing the amount of rubbish sent to landfill.
Encouraging employees to use refillable bottles and their own mugs saves on waste and the cost of supplying single-use items – plus company branded metal bottles make a great onboarding gift. Other ideas include using air hand dryers instead of paper towels and buying items such as milk and condiments in bulk rather than single servings.
Droughts and water shortages are predicted to become more common as a result of climate change. A resource that is often taken for granted as unlimited, is actually far from it. Water can also be forgotten when businesses are thinking of ways to reduce their utility bills. In fact, there are a number of ways SMEs can gain more control over their water usage and save money.
Fixing dripping taps or leaking pipes and installing low-flow toilets can help to save money as well as conserve a valuable resource. If your business has landscaping, assessing the efficiency of how water is used to maintain it (e.g. sprinklers, hoses) can be a good idea. A plumbing expert may be able to advise on the potential waste of other thirsty appliances or facilities within your business.