You read that right – that’s green, not greed. We’re not channelling our inner Gordon Gecko but focusing on why saving the planet can also save you pennies….
Operating a greener business is not only good for the environment but good for your business’s bottom line as conserving resources and cutting down on waste saves money. Plus, whilst cutting costs is at the forefront of most business agendas, don’t forget that there is also reputational reward in reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint.
However, in a small business, owner-managers are often time-poor, and it can be hard to consider implementing new procedures – but there are a few simple things that you can do that could make a big difference over time:
– Switch Off: An average office wastes £6,000 each year by leaving equipment on over weekends and bank holidays so turn off equipment when not used – yes, it may add a few minutes to your morning routine when booting up, but hey, that’s a good excuse to put the kettle on. And speaking of that kettle, remind your team not to overfill it – just boil what you need. And ok, whilst we’re talking tea, try to buy Fairtrade beverages (and biscuits!) as far as you can.
– Go Paperless – or at least paper-limited. Encourage the team to read on screen, rather than printing every email and document, and where you really have to, print double sided. If you still occasionally fax (that’s the dusty machine in the corner that occasionally churns out car leasing deals) then download free software which allows you to fax from your Pc rather than printing first.
– Make The Switch – Review your energy tariff – research indicates that 15% of businesses know what rate they are paying for electricity, and only 7% actually switch providers, yet by shopping around, you could save up to a third. Try the makeitcheaper.com website for free impartial business switching support.
– Shop Local – reduce your carbon footprint by choosing supplies in the local vicinity, plus it’s a good way to expand your business network in the local community. Also aim for suppliers who will collect and recycle packaging as waste management costs can mount up.
– Water Woes – one drop wasted per second wastes an astonishing 10,000 litres per year (in other words, you’d be paying unnecessarily for around 125 bath loads and if that’s the hot tap that’s trickling, remember you’re paying to heat it just to waste it) Typically, toilet cisterns account for over 40% of water consumption in the workplace. Where suitable, fit older 9-litre WC cisterns with volume adjusters, which will reduce the amount of water per flush by up to 2 litres.
– Resolve To Recycle WRAP estimates that around 600 million tonnes of products and materials enter the UK economy each year but only 115 million tonnes of this gets recycled. Given that Wales intends to be a 100% recycling nation by 2050, we all need to do a little more. A couple of separate recycling bins for paper, plastic, etc
– Online All The Way – harness social media and email marketing tactics rather than hard copy direct mail materials, and also consider Cloud storage to avoid having hefty back up servers eating electricity in the building (Cloud storage also has the added advantage that if your place of work gets struck by lightning or drowned in a flood, all of your data is securely stored elsewhere) Look for supplies labelled as “green web hosts”, companies that take part in a variety of activities, such as using renewable energy, planting trees, or buying carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates to reduce or mitigate the environmental cost of running their servers and infrastructure.
– Light It Up – Use energy saving bulbs – more costly to buy initially but much longer lasting, and these can be recycled, whereas older style ‘incandescent’ bulbs aren’t recyclable and have to be thrown away. For businesses or organisations that use fluorescent tubes it’s also worth knowing that, under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations, fluorescent lamps are covered by “producer responsibility” and you can ask your supplier to arrange for recycling of old lamps.
– Plant Life – Add a little greenery about the office as plants improve your air quality (no, plastic ones don’t count so you will need to remember to water it…)
– Call In The Auditors If you’re spending more than £10,000 per annum on energy, it’s worth getting an expert in to look at your consumption. Very often, the cost of an energy audit will be offset by the savings it generates through its recommendations. NatWest Mentor for example offers a detailed report on three key areas – energy efficiency, tariff management and renewable energy – split into immediate, medium and long term opportunities with estimated costs, savings and payback periods. The cost of the audit will vary according to your energy spend and number of sites but one Mentor SME furniture business client reported a £6000 annual saving plus a £11000 one off energy refund following the audit.
Want to know more: WRAP and WRAP Cymru work with businesses and individuals to help them reap the benefits of reducing waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way. Visit www.wrap.org.uk for more tips, advice and resource efficiency guides.