It’s hard to ignore the pressing issues our environment is facing today. Climate change is a reality, and we’re starting to see the effects of drastic weather patterns and an increase in natural disasters. As individuals, it can be maddeningly difficult to effect change on a large scale. But as members of the business community, we have the power to enact real and lasting change that can help save our planet.
Businesses have a responsibility to their communities. That means not just making a profit, but also being good corporate citizens. Acting in an environmentally responsible way is one of the most important things businesses can do to show they care. In today’s environmentally conscious world, taking concrete steps to reduce your business’s carbon footprint is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for PR and can even save you money the longer you do it. It may seem hard to start from scratch but these seven green initiatives have proven to be both effective and cost-efficient!
1. Watching Your Energy Efficiency
Let’s start with something easy. One of the quickest and most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by improving your energy efficiency. This can be done in several ways, but some of the most common are using energy-efficient lightbulbs, solar panels, and programmable thermostats. You can also save energy by making sure your office space is well-insulated and by using natural light as much as possible. While going with fully renewable energy sources is ideal, it’s not always possible or practical. Making small changes to your office’s energy use makes it easier to eventually make the switch to renewables.
2. Purchasing Carbon Offsets
In a perfect world, businesses would be able to operate using 100% renewable energy. But this unfairly stacks the deck in favor of larger businesses that have the resources to make this kind of switch. That’s where carbon offsets come in. Carbon offsets are a way for businesses to invest in renewable energy projects that help offset their emissions. Financed emissions help businesses meet their environmental goals without making drastic changes to their operations. Doing away with fossil fuels may not be possible for your business right now, but ensuring that your net emissions are zero—or even negative—is the next best thing.
3. Promoting Sustainable Transportation
If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, it’s that remote working is more efficient and practical than we ever thought possible. And while having your employees work from home is great for the environment, it’s not always an option. When that’s the case, try to promote sustainable transportation options as much as possible. This means things like taking the train instead of flying, carpooling, or using ride-sharing services. You can also encourage sustainable transportation by providing incentives for employees who use these methods, such as discounted public transit passes or reimbursing them for mileage.
4. Migrating to Digital
Of course, a paperless office is the ultimate goal for many businesses. But even if you’re not there yet, there are still ways to cut down on your paper use. Financial businesses often deal with a lot of paperwork, so anything you can do to cut down on it will make a big difference. Digitizing old documents, using e-signatures, and making payments digital are all great ways to reduce your paper use. Your employees and customers will surely appreciate not having to deal with so much paper, too!
5. Investing in Recycling and Waste Reduction Programs
The deleterious effects of plastic on the environment are well-documented at this point. Recycling and waste reduction programs help you reuse more of your waste, which reduces the amount of new material you need to purchase. Financial businesses obviously can’t have a compost bin in their office, but there are still plenty of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle! A painless way to start would be to encourage employees to use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs. You can also invest in more durable office supplies that last longer and can be recycled when they’re no longer needed.
6. Supporting Local and Sustainable Agriculture
The fast-paced world of finance often forces employees to buy lunch on the go. A quick sandwich from the corner deli might be the most convenient option, but it’s not always the most sustainable. At the same time, encouraging them to eat organically fails to take into account how expensive that can be day after day. A happy medium is to support local and sustainable agriculture by partnering with vendors who fit that bill. Buying lunch as a group saves money while offering local vendors a stable source of income.
You can also look into starting an office garden! Not only is this a great way to get employees involved in sustainability, but it can also provide you with fresh produce for lunch and snacks. As the world grapples with the consequences of climate change, it is clear that we all need to do our part to protect the environment. Financial businesses have a unique opportunity to lead the way in combating climate change through green initiatives. Not everyone may be on board at first, but the more you share your passion for sustainability, the more likely others will be to get on board, too. Keep at it, and don’t be surprised if your employees suddenly start asking what more they can do to help!