In today’s world, sustainability has become part of our everyday lives. How does that apply to businesses? An increasing number of organizations are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprint as both customers and employees demand a more sustainable way of doing business. Those companies that fail to adapt to this will probably face challenges in the future. No matter whether you’re a big, medium, or small business: reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be a priority for everyone.
However, implementing the necessary changes requires a company-wide assessment and joint efforts. In many cases, it may mean radically transforming certain processes, choosing new providers, creating new policies, and investing a lot in education.
What does carbon footprint mean?
Carbon footprint has become the norm when measuring the environmental impact that any activity has on the environment. It refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by performing that activity. For example, when we talk about a simple bottle of water consumed in your company, its carbon footprint includes all greenhouse gas emissions produced for the sourcing of the water, the manufacturing of the bottle, and its transportation, as well as all the activities performed in the water company that are necessary for that bottle to be produced and sold to you.
Why is reducing your carbon footprint important?
Reducing a business's carbon footprint means fewer carbon emissions going into the atmosphere, which means slowing down climate change, preserving our environment, and making better use of the earth’s resources.
The role of sustainability managers in reducing carbon emissions
When it comes to reducing the carbon footprint of your business, sustainability managers play an important role. A sustainability manager is responsible for analyzing a company’s impact on the environment and developing strategies for reducing its carbon footprint. They’re in charge of implementing and enforcing greener policies, as well as ensuring compliance with legislation regarding the environment.
Tips on how to reduce carbon footprint as a company
In practice, making a shift towards being a greener company may seem complex at first. However, it's all about the small changes that make a big difference! Here are some tips to get you started on this journey.
1. Measure your carbon footprint
Start by measuring your company's carbon footprint derived from your business activities, in order to know where you stand and which are the areas to prioritize. Many tools are available today for organizations to calculate the total greenhouse gas emissions they generate. A great option when major change is needed is to hire a sustainability consultancy firm that will not only measure your carbon footprint, but also create a plan to decrease it, offer support throughout the implementation process, request sustainability certifications, and provide the necessary training.
2. Apply the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle
The principle of the three R’s is a must whenever we talk about being environmentally friendly. Consider how you can apply this to every aspect of your business, from office supplies to packaging and operations. What can be reduced, reused, or recycled? Probably a lot more than you think. This will probably not only make your company more eco-friendly but also help its bottom line too!
3. Choose renewable energy
With more and more green energy providers on the market, making the switch to renewable energy usage is much easier today than it used to be. Check with your energy provider first if they have any renewable energy plans available. If they don’t, then consider switching to a provider that can guarantee that your energy consumption comes from renewable sources.
4. Pay for carbon offsetting
No matter how many green choices your company adopts, it will still be generating some amount of CO2 emissions during its activities. Carbon offsets are a great solution to fill in these gaps. There are many options available, from company-wide programs adapted to each specific sector, to those that are specific to a certain activity within your business.
5. Choose sustainable web hosting
This is something that might not come to mind when thinking of carbon emissions. If your servers are hosted externally, have you ever considered the energy costs and how much fossil fuel is spent to keep them running? The answer is too much! The good news is that there are environmentally-friendly options out there that combine the following to reduce their carbon impact:
- technology that ensures energy efficiency
- renewable energy sources
- carbon offsetting
- energy-saving appliances
6. Travel greener
Travel is one of the most carbon-producing activities within a company, yet it’s still part of the way we do business. However, there are different things we can do to reduce travel-related carbon emissions. Some of these include:
- Knowing and analyzing your carbon footprint generated by business travel: Which aspects of it are generating the highest emissions? Is there an alternative choice for these?
- Booking greener hotels: There are different certifications on the market that certify environmentally sustainable accommodations.
- Traveling by train or other public transport options when possible.
- Offsetting your carbon emissions generated by business travel: This is a great way to end up achieving carbon-neutral business travel.
With GreenPerk, TravelPerk’s carbon offsetting program, you can offset 100% of your business travel carbon emissions and get real-time, actionable information on your company’s carbon impact.
7. Reduce road travel emissions
Depending on your business sector, road travel emissions might seem like an inevitable part of the game. However, if you have a transport fleet, there are different ways you can make it more efficient. Some examples are using fuel-efficient vehicles which produce low emissions, or electric vehicles.
8. Promote greener commutes
Have you considered the impact of your employees’ commutes to work when it comes to the CO2 emissions generated by your business? Supporting your employees in having greener commutes is starting to be seen more and more as a responsibility for their companies, too. Some examples of things your company can do to encourage greener commutes are:
- Offering free or discounted public transport subscriptions
- Offering free bikes
- Implementing a work from home policy
Most of these incentives can offer tax benefits to companies, which makes them even easier to implement.
9. Get involved in environmentally-friendly projects
The world’s biggest and most successful companies are carrying out initiatives that support environmental causes, and your company can, too—no matter how big or small it may be. Whether it’s through a financial contribution or a company-wide effort to personally participate and help with tasks, there’s always something that can be done for the environment. Think of what you can do within your company as well as outside: from implementing eco-friendly initiatives and rewards within your office to taking part in community projects to preserve the local environment.
10. Educate employees
Education is crucial in order to ensure all the analysis and planning carried out to make your organization go greener actually goes through successfully. Your company’s employees are the key to succeed in this challenge, but they need to be informed. It’s also important to keep in mind that education is an ongoing process and, therefore, it’s necessary to regularly inform and educate your employees on this subject.