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How to make your SMB greener

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Last editedMay 20222 min read

If you're looking for ways of making your business more eco friendly, you're not alone. Many businesses are now looking to go greener purely because they see it as the right thing to do. There is also pressure from customers, local authorities and governments. With that in mind, here are four ways to make your business greener.

Rethink your use of workspace

If you’re still running a permanent office, make sure you’re using the space efficiently. The chances are that at least some staff are working on a remote/hybrid basis. If these staff members are assigned permanent desks, you can easily end up in a situation where staff end up randomly scattered across an office.

This means you have to light, heat and/or cool a large area even though there are only a few people in it. Not only is this bad for the environment, it also wastes money. If you want or need to retain your current office space, then move to an arrangement where hybrid staff hot-desk.

Assign staff desks in a way that keeps all workers in as small a space as possible. This may involve reworking storage arrangements but probably not to any significant extent. General work equipment can (and should) go in general cupboards. Personal belongings should be kept to a minimum, especially for hybrid workers.

Encourage the use of sustainable transport

If staff are still coming into the workspace, even if only periodically, encourage them to use sustainable transport. Consider providing season-ticket loans and/or signing up for the Cycle to Work Scheme. If there are staff who need to use personal transport, encourage them to car-share as much as possible.

Minimise single-use plastics

Ideally, you should aim to eliminate single-use plastics but this may need to be a long-term goal. If you’re using disposable plastics in products you manufacture, you’re probably already investigating the alternatives. Until alternatives become available, aim to use easily-recyclable plastics.

If you’re using disposable plastics in the workplace itself, then aim to minimise these as quickly as possible. In the UK, it’s a legal requirement for employers to provide access to clean drinking water and receptacles from which to drink it. The law requires these receptacles to be hygienic but not disposable.

From a sustainability perspective, reusable tumblers are the better option. In some workplaces, however, it may be difficult to wash these. If that’s the case, use plastic-free paper cups. Avoid plastic-lined paper cups as these are extremely difficult to recycle.

Employers do not have to provide cups for hot beverages or cutlery. This means that, if you choose to do so, you are free to use whatever options you like. Again, it’s preferable to opt for reusable utensils. If that’s not possible, aim to use plastic-free options such as bamboo.

Commit to paper recycling

Many businesses are already well on their way to having their business processes fully digitised. If you’re not one of them, then you probably want to address this as a high priority. Notwithstanding this, many businesses still get through a lot of paper as a result of employee habits.

For example, employees may prefer to print out documents when they need to read them closely, particularly if they want to annotate them. Some employees may also use paper to capture their thoughts and/or to release tension.

This means that, realistically, both employers and employees are likely to need to buy paper for some time into the future. That being so, commit to buying recycled paper and to recycling your own paper. If your employees buy their own notebooks, encourage them to do the same.

Recycled paper has a much lower environmental footprint than virgin paper. In particular, it uses a lot less water and far fewer chemicals. Continuously recycling paper can, therefore, make a major contribution to your company’s sustainability.

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