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Going Green- Strategies for Adopting Sustainable Business Practices

“How much does that cost? What return will I see for that outlay? Is that good value? Is this the most efficient method to get the same end result? Or is there something that I can do differently?”

Spending money is a big consideration for business owners. Minimising financial outlay, along with reducing wastage and unnecessary spending are all in the first chapter of the business ownership handbook.

Yet when it comes to carbon, the same principles are rarely at the same forefront of business decisions.

Much is made in the news about the importance of ‘being green’ – whether that be in our personal or professional lives. We are all aware of it. Yet, consciously taking action is all too often put in the ‘if we can’ category or the notion dismissed with ‘there isn’t much we can really change’.

The purpose of this blog is not to preach, or to pretend that every business can cut its footprint to zero overnight. There will likely have been times when you, as a business owner, have made decisions on the basis of what is best for the overall business – knowing that its green credentials have a lot to be desired. It is unrealistic to expect every business owner to be able to do anything else.

There are many practical steps that can be taken to reduce your business's carbon footprint, however the first work that needs to be undertaken is to embed green considerations throughout your business's working practice.

Every business decision that is made should not just take into account the financial cost, but also the environmental one. Where can a carbon ‘spend’ become avoidable?

This has to be a long-term focus. Singular acts of one-off ‘greatness’ hold no value if they are not reflective of the overall ethos of the business. Smaller, but consistent changes are likely to provide more progress toward achieving your green goals.

Whilst a photo of you planting trees might look great on LinkedIn for a day, efforts towards a green agenda need to be authentic and longer-term. Otherwise, your messaging is hollow and could be seen as a greenwashing marketing campaign.

Action is needed, and you need to start somewhere.

Having a positive green agenda means nothing if you are not able to put it into practice. It is likely that when you started the business you created a vision or a mission statement for your business. Many do so to give them a point of reference for what they are setting out to achieve – a reminder of what their business is all about. A very simple first step is to update this, and introduce the climate goals you have for the business’s future.

The next step to creating change is to identify who is responsible within the business for developing the business’s green objectives. If you work on your own, then why not allocate some regular time for yourself to review the actions that have already been, and can be taken in the future. Set yourself some realistic goals, and an action plan describing how you intend to achieve them.

Using the same example as I started with, it is good standard practice for any business owner to take a couple of hours at the end of each month to review the business's financial performance – why not bolt the two together?

This style of review will only be useful if you collect some data to compare. With each new ‘greener’ working practice that is introduced, ensure that a suitable mechanism is put in parallel to ensure it is having the desired, and sufficient effect.

From there, what you do with the information is up to you. You may file your end of year reports in the same folder as your end of year accounts, you may choose to publish the difference you have made as part of an outreach campaign.

On Tuesday 14th March BIPC Northamptonshire are offering a ‘Business sustainability and innovation‘ webinar, where Barry Crisp from Crisp Consultancy will provide an introduction on how to pivot towards an environmentally and socially friendly business model, and ensure sustainability and empathy is at the heart of what you do.

This is free to attend and you can register your place here.

Find out how the Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire can support your business by visiting our 'Services' page.

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