As consumers and businesses become more concerned with environmental credentials, SMEs can look to technology to help solve their CSR woes
If you’d asked what images the colour green evoked 20 years ago, the answer to the question would have surely have been something along the lines of sheer envy, gushing meadows or fuzzy, felt frogs with eyes made from ping-pong balls – among other things. Fast-forward to 2014 and many would argue the main emphasis would be on something beginning with the letter ‘E’. Promising to omit any future Jim Henson-related references, we’re sure you’ve guessed it; we’re talking about the environment.
Protecting the world we live in is a hot topic and has been for years. From issues on El Niño to recycling every last piece of disposable plastic we have in our homes, it’s a big thing – a big business. However, it’s not just big enterprises that are getting in on the act.
SMEs are also becoming more and more environmentally conscious, without burning a hole in their pocket as large as the ozone layer – so much so that throughout the period of 2011 to 2012, low carbon and environmental goods services were worth £128bn and employed 938,00 people within the UK. And that figure continues to rise.
With government statistics revealing that around 75% of each person’s carbon emissions within the UK comes from products and services, more and more SMEs are jumping on the carbon efficiency bandwagon. And, if you haven’t yet, why not?
Without further ado, Elite Business offers you the ultimate guide to going green for business and, of course, the environment, while saving money in the process.
PCs and monitors
Switch off your monitor if you’re away from your desk for more than a few minutes. Although it doesn’t sound like you’re doing the environment much of a favour, you are. Oh, and if you’re thinking of running off to that meeting and leaving your PC on, don’t. That’s just lazy.
Make the most of natural light. Embrace it; savour the vitamin D seeping through those sunlight-deprived pores – after all, it makes us all happier bunnies. Also, remember to switch off lights when they’re not needed and when you’re the last to leave a room.
Heating and AC
It’s not that we want to shut you away from the world in order to build upon your entrepreneurial empire but keeping doors and windows shut when the AC is on ensures that you don’t waste valuable resources – both energy and cash. On the opposite end of the thermostat, just because you’re cold doesn’t mean everyone else will be. So pull out those thermals, woolly jumpers, onesies or anything else you can think of to remain as comfortable as you need to be. Don’t automatically reach for the dial.
Paper that’s already been used on one side can be re-used for draft documents or note-taking. It can also be re-used in fax machines. We’re not asking you to send out your important correspondence on the back of a used sheet of paper – we’re simply asking you to think before you print. Also, remember to recycle your used paper, cardboard and magazines (except perhaps this one).
Run meetings electronically by using conference facilities and share documents online as much as you can. If people have to attend a meeting in person, either travel by public transport or share a car – it’s a lot more environmentally friendly, plus a tad more sociable.
Robert Gorby, Powwownow
“Swap meetings for video conferences”
“We believe that by utilising technology, such as web chats, screen sharing and conference calls, businesses can significantly reduce their carbon footprint,” says Robert Gorby, development director at Powwownow. “This is because limiting unnecessary travel will help to reduce a company’s dependency on taxis, cars and trains and therefore the amount of emissions created. In the ultra-competitive business world we currently face, clients and customers are choosing their suppliers on more than just the simple product or service offered. As a result, a ‘green company’ develops a competitive advantage over its rivals and has the potential to be responsible for increased revenue.”
Olly Slator, Gear4DJs
“Work with manufacturers to go green”
Gear4DJs, a small Brighton-based DJ equipment enterprise, has not only invested in eco-friendly equipment but has also adopted its very own ‘eco commitment’. “Every one of our manufacturers is requested to use the greenest solutions available to them. This could be anything from reducing the size of a shipping box, which results in more boxes being transported in one container, to investing in the most up-to-date LED technology and only working with energy-efficient amplifiers where possible,” says Olly Slator, managing director of Gear4DJs.
The firm’s eco commitment doesn’t stop there though. “We would be doing a disservice to both our customers and the manufacturers we work with if we were encouraging people to make their warehouses and workplace practices greener but failing to do the same ourselves,” Slator continues. “We understand that entirely, which is why our headquarters, showroom and trade counter all boast eco-friendly designs. We have installed solar panels across the roofs of all of our buildings, for example, so that our power comes from natural light. Meanwhile, everything in our showroom is illuminated using energy-saving LED lights.”