After COP26, the focus is now on the government’s plans and agreements to cut carbon emissions and reset our relationship with nature. Whilst around 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 have been produced by just 100 companies, individuals and smaller businesses are more prepared to make bigger changes, to help in the global effort to reduce our impact.

Deliotte’s 2021 Sustainability & Consumer Behaviour report shows how willing consumers are to make changes, by adapting their own buying patterns. 45% have bought more locally produced goods, and almost 40% say they’ve reduced air travel and the number of new products they buy. But the following stats will affect businesses:

  • 34% have chosen brands that have sustainable values
  • 30% have chosen brands with ethical practices
  • 28% have stopped purchasing from certain brands due to sustainability-related concerns

You will have noticed a growing trend for businesses advertising their green credentials. Starbucks have developed an eco-friendly cup. Brewdog is planting forests when you buy their beer. National Rail changed the colour of its logo to highlight have rail travel is a greener mode of transport.

So what can we as business owners and decision-makers do to reduce our emissions and be more sustainable? What practical steps can we take to make a lasting, positive impact on our planet? Let’s start with some of the basics.

Making our offices greener

The easiest place to start is our offices. Simple changes such as discouraging printer usage, not leaving PCs on standby overnight and using LED lightbulbs are basics. Larger changes in heating and cooling working spaces will take time.

We might start to see more companies adopting sustainability teams – a group of workers tasked with coming up with green ideas.

Our choice of energy partners

Going green with our choice of energy partners is a great way to make our organisations more sustainable, in just a few clicks! Many new companies offer green energy solutions for the business market.

And why stop at changing energy suppliers? For some businesses, it can make long-term financial sense to adopt wind or solar energy at their sites.

Employee schemes

We can look at how we can promote greener behaviours amongst the team through employee schemes. One of the most notable being the cycle-to-work scheme that many organisations have adopted.

Whilst the pandemic has created a shift towards working from home which will reduce carbon footprint, businesses can be doing more to reduce transport for when employees do need to come in. We could look at being more flexible with working hours to prevent staff sitting in commuter traffic during peak times.

Operational decisions

Finally are the operational decisions we make as a business on sourcing products, shipping them and sending them to customers. How we import and export goods has a huge effect on the environment. The way we source our products is slowly changing for the better, but deforestation remains a critical global issue.

Changes are being made, of course. More and more brands are setting up with the sole purpose of selling sustainably sourced products, including the ever-popular bamboo toothbrush.

Businesses need to lead the way

In conclusion, there are a variety of things we can be getting on with as businesses to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Some we can implement from next week, others requiring months or years of strategic planning and implementation.