Following on from our Carbon Footprint article we have put together some ideas on how you can reduce your carbon emissions. A company is made up of a range of individual stakeholders who can cut their carbon footprint via their respective positions within the company as well as on a personal level.
20 ways to reduce your carbon footprint
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
These three terms refer to ways that we can minimise the volume of materials that we use. From office supplies to packaging you should aim to reduce consumption, reuse what you already have and, where this is not possible, recycle rather than throwing away.
2. Encourage working from home
An unexpected consequence of the Covid19 pandemic is the increased acceptance of working from home for some or all of the week. Workers’ commuting emissions will be reduced, as will the time spent on the commute. In addition to this there is likely to be higher motivation and productivity because of their improved work-life balance.
3. Switch to smart shipping
If you rely on the shipment of products be aware of your shipping methods. Avoid shipping by air as it has lower fuel efficiency than ground or sea delivery. Maximise capacity rather than shipping in several smaller loads that consume more fuel.
4. Don’t waste water
The water coming out of your taps needs to be pumped and treated, all of which takes up a high volume of energy and water. Fix leaky taps and fixtures; leaky toilets can waste up to 20gallons of water a day. At home take showers rather than baths and turn the tap off when cleaning your teeth.
5. Upgrade your office
Replace inefficient light bulbs with LED bulbs, invest in good blinds and shading to save on air-conditioning and upgrade your windows to save heating. Make sure that all lights and appliances are turned off when the office is closed.
6. Travel smart
If possible, walk, cycle or use public transport.
If you have to drive a lot, then it may be worth considering switching to an electric vehicle which can lead to dramatically lower carbon emissions. However, the source of the electricity used to fuel these vehicles in the UK is often from the burning of fossil fuels, and many people suggest that the manufacturing of the lithium charge batteries that go into most electric vehicles are both carbon costly to manufacture and harder to recycle.
7. Fly less
Aviation is responsible for around 2% of the world’s global carbon emissions, and if you fly regularly this will probably make up a large percentage of your carbon footprint. Another consequence of the Covid19 pandemic is the escalation in use of Zoom or Microsoft Teams to carry out meetings, meaning that business travel can often be replaced with online meetings.
8. Invest in on-site renewable energy
The proportion of energy produced from sustainable sources such as wind, solar, bioenergy and hydroelectric sources is increasing, with a government target for all electricity to come from 100% zero-carbon generation by 2035. However at present even with a renewable energy contract your purchased electricity comes from the national grid, much of which is sourced from natural gas.
Although the initial investment may be costly, harnessing the power of renewables on your premises will save money in the long term.
9. Embrace technology
Paper production is a major consumer of energy and in this day and age there are enough technologies out there that most paper usage should be redundant. If you must use paper, print on both sides and use as little as possible.
10. Unplug if not in use
All electrical appliances draw power from the grid, even when in ‘stand-by’ mode. If you are not using your computer, heater, TV, microwave and other devices turn them off at the plug or unplug them completely.
11. Educate yourself, your staff, your customers
Ensure that everyone within the company as well as customers, suppliers and other stakeholders are aware of your policies to reduce carbon emissions. Encourage personal participation.
12. Evaluate your current carbon consumption
Conduct a thorough review of your carbon emissions over a period so that you have a baseline figure that you can benchmark against. By evaluating the different parts of your business in this way you will be able to develop an appropriate reduction strategy.
13. Measure your progress
Keep track of your carbon footprint to ensure that it is being consistently reduced. The best way to approach this is to develop a reduction strategy with specific targets and deadlines.
14. Raise your business voice
Businesses and companies should be vocal about reducing carbon footprints, and customers, investors and employees will respond similarly.
15. Engage with sustainable partners only
Work with partners that share your passion for limiting your carbon emissions so that you all have a positive impact on the environment. Create sustainable business relationships to hold each company accountable as well as help reduce your carbon footprints in the long run.
16. Get involved in community projects
Participate in community activities such as planting more trees, beach cleans, charity and voluntary work.
17. Implement the same at home
All of these ways of cutting your carbon footprint can be applied on a personal level.
18. Eat less meat
One of the biggest factors affecting GHG emissions is the impact of meat and dairy consumption within diets. Agriculture is the biggest form of deforestation in the Amazon, and all the animal feed required has to be grown, harvested and transported in a manner than produces emissions. In addition to this, animals release greenhouse gases, especially cattle in the form of methane. Methane CH4 and Nitrous Oxide N20 are both greenhouse gases produced predominantly by the agricultural sector and are 25 and 298 times respectively more potent than CO2. Beef production has the highest impact, generating 70.6kg worth of emissions per kg of food in comparison to pork at 12.3kg GHG emissions per kg and vegetables at 0.7kg GHG emissions per kg.
19. Eat local
There is a high volume of GHG emissions produced along the course of your food’s supply chain. Look for locally sourced produce and avoid any foods that will have been transported by air, ie. foods with a short shelf life that have travelled a long way. Try to buy in-season produce that will have been grown within the UK.
20. Purchase responsibly
For example, Fairtrade food, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood and paper products.
Fairtrade organisations aim to equip smallholder farmers with the tools to adapt to and combat climate change, including developing nutrient-rich soils and investing in reforestation. These projects promote the production of environmentally sustainable agricultural products.
The Forest Stewardship Council is the leading catalyst and defining force for improved forest management and market transformation, shifting the global forest trend towards sustainable use, conservation, restoration and respect for all. By purchasing products that are FSC certified you are assured that you are helping take care of the world’s forests.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many other actions that can reduce your carbon footprint such as limiting general device and internet usage, doing laundry in full loads only and not using a tumble dryer, adjusting your thermostat etc.
The task ahead may seem daunting but remember that even the smallest change makes a difference. Select an action or actions that are easy to implement and work up from there.