Contrary to popular belief, sustainability doesn’t have to cost you more. Here are 6 ways going green can save your business money…
As businesses around the world embrace their role as leaders toward a more sustainable future, one department that can be difficult to get on board is the Finance department. And the people who work there are right to be cautious.
If a business wants to be part of the long-term solution, they need to stay in business. Sounds obvious, right? But it can sometimes feel like our heart’s impulses to do good are at odds with our head’s recognition of our bank balance.
So if you are looking to embed more sustainable practices at your company, you’re going to want to get buy-in from the Finance team up front. And luckily, it’s easier than ever to join the dots between green activities and cost savings.
Let’s take a look…
1. Get smarter about your energy use
For most businesses, the bulk of their energy costs go toward lighting, heating and cooling the office space. So start by running an energy audit to identify where the big ticket savings can be found.
One of the quickest wins is to switch to LED lightbulbs, but you can also use motion sensors to determine when light switches on in a given area of the office. When office equipment comes to the end of its life, be sure to replace it with energy efficient models that have eco-friendly hibernation modes when not in use. And get your staff involved with a ‘switch off campaign’ so they remember to turn off computers, lights and other appliances at the end of the day.
Many renewable energy providers have great rates – sometimes even cheaper than traditional energy providers, so be sure to get a quote and switch if possible. And depending on whether or not you own your office building, you could even instal solar panels to help lower costs.
2. Cut down on your waste
Every business produces waste, but it can become a huge drain on company finances if it isn’t dealt with properly. Take the time to do an audit in each business function or area of the office to identify the type of waste produced and look for opportunities to reduce it.
As a first step, be sure you’re offering your employees the chance to recycle so that they aren’t throwing away recyclables in general bins. You can also remove smaller personal bins – each requiring a plastic bin liner – and provide fewer, larger bins that are communal.
Encourage your staff to operate as a paper-free office where possible and if you have to print something out, be sure you print on both sides of the paper.
You’ll want to reduce single-use plastic throughout your office, and look at bulk buying options or consolidated delivery timings to cut down on packaging waste. And if you’re a manufacturer, look at how you can redesign your own packaging so that your customers don’t have a load of waste to deal with as a result of doing business with you.
3. Decrease your water consumption
While water use in the home gets some attention, especially in dry seasons, it’s not always something we think about when we’re at work.
Keep an eye out for leaky or dripping faucets and toilets as they truly are throwing money down the drain. Where possible, install low-flow technology in the restrooms, including motion-sensor taps and ‘water hippos’ in the toilet cisterns to cut water use.
In the kitchen, investing in mains water taps that can do both hot and cold filtered water can reduce both water usage (not running the taps till the water gets cold) and energy (as you won’t have to boil the kettle for a tea run).
4. Make your resources last longer
There will be instances when you need to invest in new kit to stay competitive or seize new opportunities. But make sure that you’re looking to repair or upcycle equipment first before you replace it.
If you create a product, design it with the end in mind and ensure that it’s part of the circular economy.
And this principle applies for human capital as well – retaining employees costs less than recruiting and training new ones, so be sure you’re prioritising the health and wellbeing of your workforce.
5. Cut down on travel and commuting
The events of 2020 have drastically changed the way we view the office and in-person meetings. As we re-evaluate the role of place in business, we can use new ways of working to save time and money.
Continue to allow employees to work from home where possible to reduce the size and needs of your office base. And when they are needed in-person, try offering flexible working hours so they can travel to the office at off-peak times.
Use videoconferencing rather than traveling to in-person meetings – saving on rail, car and plane journeys as well as hotel fees and food and drink bills.
6. Make your supply chain part of the solution
This focus on sustainable business practices is evident in every type of organisation, regardless of industry. So be sure to review your supply chain and if you identify areas for improvement, put out a tender for a new partner who is aligned to your values. And who knows – they may provide a better service for a better price.