Going green is big business.
Today consumers expect the brands they buy from to be environmentally-friendly; to use local materials, to support the communities they operate within and to limit their impact on habitats by lowering emissions and using renewable energy.
But going green is not just good for the environment - it's good for business too.
With National Ozone Day and World Car-Free Day coming up this September, it's a good time to look at why environmental awareness is so important for companies today, not just for the future health of the planet, but also for the more immediate health of our businesses.
Why should we care about the environment?
Human-caused climate change is already wrecking some of the Earth's most precious habitats.
Earlier this year Prof Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany said:
"I hope people realise that global warming is not something down the road, but it is here now and it is affecting us now. What is happening right now is we are catapulting ourselves out of the Holocene, which is the geological epoch that human civilisation has been able to develop in, because of the relatively stable climate. It allowed us to invent agriculture, rather than living as nomads. It allowed a big population growth, it allowed the foundation of cities, all of which required a stable climate.”
2016 has seen record-breaking temperatures across the world as well as other devastating events such as flooding across the UK, a drought in India, vanishing Arctic sea ice and the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef caused by abnormally warm seas.
Britain's business and economy depends on global trade and resources. Unfortunately decades of mass production worldwide is having a massive impact on wildlife, climate, energy and the natural environment.
With limited resources fast depleting, it's crucial that we all make an effort to be as sustainable as possible to not only preserve the planet, but to grow our economy and secure the longevity of our businesses.
According to a government report, if all UK businesses used their resources more efficiently they could:
- save around £23 billion a year
- reduce carbon emissions
- improve their resilience to the rising price of commodities.
The report concluded that: "If businesses provide clear and relevant information about the environmental impacts and performance of products and services, consumers can make informed choices about what they buy."
The benefits of going green
As well as helping adhere to environmental laws and being crucial for the future of our planet, environmental awareness has its own shorter-term business benefits.
Lower energy costs
There will be an upfront cost for overhauling your energy practises, but the long-term savings can be huge. For example, LED lights are more expensive than standard incandescent bulbs, but they also last up to 40x longer and use about a tenth of the energy.
Higher staff productivity
A UCLA-led study found that companies with green policies had employees who were 16% more productive than the average 'non-green' company. They found that people in green firms were more motivated, they received more training and experienced better relationships at work compared to those in conventional companies.
Flexible working conditions
Environmental policies encourage greater flexibility across all areas of business. It encourages us to assess the way we do things and to challenge the status quo. If we are constantly asking 'how can we do this in a more sustainable way?' then we are stimulating innovation which not only saves the business money, but improves the happiness of workers. For example, remote working saves money, fuel and office costs, and it also helps facilitate a better work-life balance for individuals.
Customers are willing to pay more for goods that come from sustainable companies. A recent Nielsen global online study found that three out of four would pay more if the company is committed to positive social and environmental change.
How to get started?
It really does pay to have an environmental policy in place in your business. We believe the key to an effective initiative is staff training. And it doesn't have to be expensive.
E-learning is a low-cost, effective way to roll out interactive training to potentially thousands of employees. We can create bespoke e-learning courses if you would like to train staff in the particulars of your environmental initiative, or you can simply use our existing Environmental Awareness course.
All of our courses come with a free management system so you can keep track of training, send automatic reminders and build reports to monitor your company's progress.