Commercial companies are responsible for a whopping 20% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. This makes it vital to figure out how businesses can reduce their carbon footprint.
At least, that is, if we don’t want to live in a world where the current extreme weather events and the like are more and more common.
But what does carbon footprint mean? And what are some actual steps you can take to help your business minimise your environmental impact?
Let’s take a look:
What does carbon footprint mean?
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide created by an activity, person, or – in this case – business.
It’s important to note that the concept of your own personal carbon footprint was created by BP (yes, the oil company) as a distraction from their own highly polluting activities.
Yet, it can be a useful idea to have in mind when we’re talking about larger-scale activities like running a business. Or even the total carbon “cost” of individual supplies you purchase.
Take a simple office pen. How many carbon emissions were created by the factories producing the case, the ink, the little metal clip? How about transporting it to the shop, then to you?
Carbon footprint is a way we can think of minimising the total “cost” of all of our business activities and processes.
How businesses can reduce their carbon footprint
1) Measure your carbon footprint
It’s difficult to know where to start until you know where you’re currently at.
You can find both free and paid-for tools and templates that can help you start measuring and calculating your carbon footprint online.
Remember that you need to total up all of the emissions related to your business. These include what are known as:
- Scope 1 emissions – from your immediate business activities.
- Scope 2 emissions – from the energy you buy.
- Scope 3 emissions – from everyone in your supply chain and your end users.
2) Teach your team
Educating your team about the importance of reducing your waste, energy use, and carbon impact can have a massive overall effect.
A major source of energy waste is companies with staff who leave lights and equipment on over the weekend. Or who throw away things that can be recycled or fail to dispose of e-waste responsibly.
This sustainability education should be regular and ongoing. A single one-off seminar isn’t going to keep people on the straight and narrow. Regular reminders can save you money and the planet too.
3) Reduce, reuse, recycle
There are many ways that putting thoughts of sustainability and carbon footprint minimisation first can save your business money as well as be good for the environment.
Take the example of refurbished office equipment. Many businesses dispose of perfectly good laptops. Purchasing second-hand equipment is cheaper, better for the plant, and won’t harm your productivity.
Plastic and food containers (especially disposable coffee cups and pre-packaged lunches) are also responsible for a truly horrifying amount of waste in the UK. Any steps to minimise and recycle this will go a long way to reducing your business’s carbon footprint.
4) Go renewable
Switching the energy your business uses to guaranteed renewable sources is one of the simplest and most effective ways to minimise the impact you’re having on the environment.
These days, many suppliers offer green energy tariffs and some are wholly renewable-based. These can even be cheaper than alternatives, making the switch a no-brainer.
5) Check your supply chain
Those Scope 3 emissions aren’t going to minimise themselves.
Ideally, you need to consider every supplier you have and their own green credentials. This will ensure you aren’t making a huge negative contribution to climate change simply by using one bad company.
6) Consider your web hosting and SaaS providers
In the old days, the huge numbers of office-based servers that were essential to so many businesses were a huge source of energy use and heat pollution.
These days, SaaS (Software as a Service) models have taken those servers offsite. Tools like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace take most processing elsewhere.
This is usually a good thing. However, the huge centralised data centres that organisations like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google use have problems of their own.
As part of your efforts to reduce your business carbon footprint, it’s a good idea to investigate where the “work” is being done by the web hosting and collaboration tools you use (or ask your Managed Service Provider to help you figure out a better solution).
7) Assess your business travel needs
Business travel – especially habit-based unnecessary travel, usually for pointless meetings – is one of the most carbon-intensive activities your company will engage in.
An in-person meeting is almost always unnecessary in a world where Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams exist. Especially if this involves multiple members of staff travelling across the country.
If you absolutely must travel, train is best as far as carbon emissions are concerned. Consider making it easier for your company to commute by train, foot, or bicycle wherever possible too.
Minimising your carbon footprint – the next steps
That’s far from all the ways businesses can reduce their carbon footprint. But getting a handle on your current emissions and taking these basic steps is definitely phase one.
Want to at least talk through how your current IT setup is affecting your carbon footprint?
Let’s chat. Dial A Geek has already helped nearly 1000 businesses in Bristol and beyond arrange their tech setup more efficiently.
Arrange a cost and commitment-free meet with Chief Geek Gildas Jones today.