Reducing a carbon footprint is a widely discussed topic and one that is becoming more prominent in the working world. Many companies are already interested in implementing quick and effective sustainability measures throughout their business, not just to deal with the carbon footprint but to contribute further, to their community and society. Your staff can help your business to reduce its carbon footprint and quicker than you think.
But the ease of doing so typically revolves around the size and complexity of the company and its supply chain. Even so, all companies can make changes that can have an immediate effect on both their customers and staff.
Achieving these goals is easy. For most businesses at least. Having an office space gives businesses a controlled environment to work within and one where the company’s carbon emissions can be easily monitored.
You also have the added bonus of working with your staff community to build a more sustainable business rather than going at it alone. A truly sustainable business will stretch far beyond their staff and office practices, reaching out to their consumers also. So let’s get into how we can begin to implement positive change:
Workspaces are a great target focus for implementing quick and effective sustainability measures. Here are 4 key areas where you can improve workplace sustainability with the help of your staff.
The daily commute to and from work alone accounts for more than 98% of an employee’s work-related carbon footprint. Environmentally speaking, commuting is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. A month of commuting causes the average car to emit 500.45 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In Great Britain alone, there were 31.9 million cars licensed at the end of September 2020. That doesn’t even include LGVs, HGVs, motorcycles, buses & coaches. Implementing work from home practices will drastically cut down the total number of carbon emissions from vehicles.
The average person now spends up to 1 hour commuting – longer than ever before. Offering your employees the choice to work from home is a great way to limit carbon footprint and something they may be thankful for in the long run.
For employees who prefer working from co-working spaces or cafés, implementing work from home practices means they are more likely to work from local cafes or work hubs that are accessible by walking, cycling or public transport. A result that will be much more beneficial in the long run.
All in all, start small. Eliminate the need for daily commutes whether they be short or long. For international or long-haul commutes between offices or functions, consider meeting online via zoom or communication via phone more frequently.
A couple of years ago, businesses may have considered working from home as being impractical and too difficult to control. But, thanks to Covid-19, businesses have begun to realize that working from home is well within the capabilities of their employees.
In fact, with strict working from home measures put in place as a result of the Covid pandemic, many of us have now adapted to working more effectively from home. If we can begin to implement working from home as the new norm, the 28% of greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector will significantly decrease.
Many companies offer food and drinks such as coffee and fruit to their employees. Large companies will even cater lunches and work events. While these perks make workers happy, food production currently accounts for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The figures are staggering and will continue to grow if businesses overlook food waste within the office. Reviewing the kind of catering services you offer can help decrease carbon emissions dramatically.
Simple changes, like switching from cow’s milk to oat milk, would mean that 40.6% of carbon emissions from milk consumption were avoided. It may not be everyone’s preference, but it’s an opportunity to promote your sustainability intentions to your staff in a fun and interactive way.
Make the experience enjoyable for everyone and endorse events such as Veganuary or a simple Meatless Monday. Livestock that aids beef and milk production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. So definitely consider introducing vegan or vegetarian lunches as a regular option.
These meals are generally not only healthier but also more climate-friendly. In fact, Vegetarians save 3,000 pounds of CO2 per year compared to meat-eaters.
The US company WeWork even took a drastic step in 2018 where they told employees they would no longer reimburse them for meals containing poultry, pork, and red meat. Now, WeWork staff only receive lunch reimbursements from business trips if they choose vegetarian food.
Now, if you’re not ready to take such drastic action, start by encouraging your employees to eat mindfully. Ask them to bring their lunch to work when catering is not on offer, or walk to a local lunch spot. This way, you are consuming less and reducing the consistent need for production within the food industry.
Reducing, reusing, lowering carbon footprint, and consuming less is all-important, but you can also do something positive for the environment too…
Employer-supported volunteering (ESV) days are becoming a popular perk for businesses to offer employees. The principle behind ESV is to allow your employees to take paid leave in order to volunteer during work hours. Employees can choose to use their volunteering time to get involved in charity projects or take up an opportunity provided by their company. So why not give your employees a few days each year to get involved in a positive climate action project.
Employees spend up to 46% of their day working so while they may have avid intentions to do charity work, the idea of giving away their remaining free time may put these efforts on hold. Giving your employees a few days each year to support projects they are passionate about allows them to give back without having to sacrifice their free time.
Promoting team volunteer days, pro-bono work with climate action businesses, and getting involved with local sustainability projects will all help make the feat for climate change an easier one. You will also benefit from working with some great organizations which provide an amazing opportunity for both you and your employees to learn more about sustainability and climate change.
Encourage your staff to create a green environment for themselves either at the office or where they work from home. Patch plants have published some great info here on the health benefits of plants at home or in the office. By creating workspaces that are stress-free and abundant in natural flora, you subtly stimulate proactive habits that benefit both the environment and your workers.
Of course, environmentally speaking, plants are great for helping us balance carbon dioxide emissions. Plants are known to clean our air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis. In an office, they’re even more efficient. Modern office buildings, with predominantly sealed air, can contain up to ten times more pollutants than the air outside. Plants help eradicate these toxic emissions by naturally improving air quality and stabilizing humidity levels.
So, more plants result in a greener office, happier staff, and overall better wellbeing.
Your staff is an important foundation in your business’s growth. They are the people that help a business and its leaders achieve its goals. If you’re wanting to start implementing greener office practices, that will ultimately lower your carbon footprint, you need to communicate your sustainability goals with your employees effectively.
Try the 4 ways above and see what works best for you. You can also use One Tribe’s easy 20 step sustainability guide to monitor your progress and check off your milestones.
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