Eco-friendly business practices that benefit you and the environment
Every time a business decision is made, the company needs to examine the various effects this change will have. How will this decision affect company finances, efficiency, and employee wellbeing? Now, there is an additional factor that needs to be considered: the environmental impact. Countries around the world are declaring climate emergencies, and businesses are expected to take greater responsibility for lowering their environmental impact. Some businesses worry that eco-friendly practices will reduce profit and efficiency, but this is not the case. Here’s how eco-friendly business practices can benefit you and the environment simultaneously.
Contributing to the global environment
Every choice, whether it’s made by an individual or a group, has an effect on the environment. It’s important that changes are made at every level to lessen negative practices and encourage eco-friendly alternatives. Climate activists such as Greta Thunberg are receiving monumental support as they fight for awareness, and celebrities like Jane Fonda are using their fame to protest a lack of government action. As general awareness increases, consumers expect businesses to take greater responsibility for the environmental impact of their actions.
Business decisions such as building maintenance, manufacturing methods, and product shipping are facing stricter guidelines from governments and industry bodies. For example, cities such as Berlin, Washington D.C., and Singapore are using Urban Greening Factor (UGF) schemes to ensure that all new structures are built using eco-friendly materials and methods. These measures are being implemented in tandem with eco-friendly packaging methods, particularly in industries with a history of excessive plastic packaging.
A current leader in packaging innovation is Lush, the UK cosmetics company. 35% of Lush’s products are “naked” (i.e. packaging free), while the remaining 65% are packaged in recycled plastic and paper. These eco-friendly alternatives to traditional cosmetics have been praised by shoppers who want to reduce their plastic usage. As demand for eco-friendly products grows, customers also want to see that sustainable practices are being used at every level of the companies they support.
Eco-friendly and cost-effective
Some businesses can be reluctant to make the switch to eco-friendly practices because they assume that sustainable alternatives are more expensive. However, if you take the time to examine your company’s current methods, you’ll find that many of these changes will actually save on company costs. Office additions such as work-from-home programmes, recycling schemes, and stricter paper usage will reduce office spending as well as emissions. There are also significant tax incentives for eco-friendly businesses, several of which can be applied simultaneously.
One of the largest ways that many businesses can lower their carbon footprint as well as their bills is by managing their electricity use. LED light bulbs use an average of 25-30% less electricity than incandescent lights, and last 25 times longer- think of how much money this would save if implemented throughout your business. Light bulbs are just one example of old appliances that can be replaced with energy-efficient alternatives, and it’s worth examining old appliances to see if their electricity use is costing more than you expect. Most businesses leave electrical appliances on longer than needed, and just unplugging everything at the end of the day is a small action that will quickly lower your electric bill.
Happier and healthier
Sustainable practices have been shown to create a positive environment wherever they are implemented. Employees, customers, and residents have all responded positively when greenery was introduced or improved in their environment. Biophilic design is a great way to build a link with nature, provide cleaner air, and create a soothing presence in any space. By incorporating natural materials and green features into commercial and residential spaces, there are more opportunities for people to de-stress, focus, and enjoy themselves. Proven benefits of biophilic design include an 8% increase in office productivity and customers willing to spend an extra 8-12% in retail spaces.
Environmental measures can also lessen negative emotions around climate change, commonly known as “eco guilt”.
Eco guilt is becoming more prevalent in many people’s lives, and having eco-friendly options available can lessen that anxiety. A common example would be offering sustainable packaging when shopping, but these measures don’t have to be limited to commercial environments. Simple things like an office reducing their paper usage can help workers to assuage their eco guilt and focus on work more. Green practices are an easy way to remove a source of anxiety from your customers’ and employees’ lives, and therefore create a happier, healthier experience.
Making a sustainable change
There are dozens of small changes that businesses can make to lessen their environmental impact, but there are also larger adjustments that can have an even greater effect. For example, if you’re building or renovating, there are several green insulation materials that are significantly less damaging to the environment than polyurethane foam or fiberglass.
One of the easiest ways to significantly lower your emissions in a single step is by installing a green roof or living wall on your premises. These features are easy to install and can be used in countless inventive ways to add a striking visual element to your space. The large amount of plant life they contain means they produce cleaner air, regulate temperature, and lessen the effects of flooding during inclement weather.
Green roofs can create a serene space inside or outside, while living walls add greenery in urban spaces that have no room for traditional planting methods.
Green roofs and living walls offer many advantages that other green business practices cannot. Green installations provide a space for the local wildlife to live, reduce heating bills wherever they’re installed, and lower emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide. Adding a green roof or living wall to your business premises is an excellent opportunity to not only lower your emissions, but to actively improve your local environment and carbon footprint. By incorporating such a feature into your business’ sustainability plan, a green installation becomes just one part of a multi-faceted plan that helps the environment, lowers company costs, and improves the lives of everyone involved.