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9 Ways to Reduce Your Business' Carbon Footprint
Brandi Smith, Marketing Director
Carbon emissions contribute to climate change and ultimately have serious consequences for us and our environment. The burning of fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In return, these carbon emissions are causing a rise in global temperatures by trapping solar energy in the atmosphere. This in turn alters water supplies and weather patterns, changes the growing season for food crops and threatens coastal communities with increasing sea levels.
Economic growth and business activity is one of the biggest drivers to carbon emissions production and thus climate change. With businesses playing a significant role in greenhouse gas emissions, we have an ethical obligation to reduce our carbon footprint.
There are a series of ways we can all play a role as employees, business owners and leaders. We’ve compiled our top nine here for you:
Aside from natural daylight, LED lighting is one of the most energy efficient forms of lighting. Making the switch to LED bulbs offers an 80% energy savings over incandescent, halogen and compact fluorescent (CFL) alternatives. Plus, these bulbs have a longer operational life span too – 25 times longer than halogen and incandescent bulbs, and up to three times longer than CFLs. You can also have sensors installed which will automatically ensure lights turn off when movement ceases.
The overall savings are tremendous. By using less energy, these lower wattage bulbs reduce the demand from power plants, which in turn, decrease greenhouse gas emissions. You’ll experience reductions in your monthly electricity bills and lighting costs. In my home alone, I reduced my monthly electricity bill by $100 every month by making the investment into LED bulbs. Imagine the savings you could experience for your business? It all adds up.
An astonishing 1 million tons of paper is used around the world every day. Oftentimes this paper usage is unnecessary and wasteful. It puts tremendous pressure on the environment with expanding production and pulp wood harvesting that is threatening the last remaining natural forests, not to mention the people and wildlife that depend on them. When it comes to printing, follow the golden rule: think before you print. Ask, “Do I really need to print this?” If you do, use recycled paper and double-sided printing to reduce paper waste.
Giving up paper and replacing it with digital routes, like managing and signing contracts online or saving and sharing files to the Cloud, not only supports a healthier environment but can also save you up to 10 times the cost of paper through the reduction in costs of storage, toner, labor, postage and disposal.
When purchasing an office fridge, dishwasher or microwave, make sure you’re selecting top Energy Star rated appliances. These appliances spend the minimum amount of energy to complete their tasks, which means they are able to enhance their level of energy conservation, which can be used for other workplace purposes and offer energy bill savings. Our friends over at Danby Appliances offer a series of options designed specifically for business environments –with some cool designs too!
Every business generates a significant amount of waste and it is important to get into the habit of recycling it. Look for ways to reuse, recycle and even refurbish products to be used again. For example, install recycle bins in your office for specific waste to ensure the right materials go to the right recycling unit. Instead of storing old computers in storage rooms and gathering dust, or leaving them to be dumped in a landfill, recycle the valuable metals found in them to be used again. Every time a piece of metal is recycled, it saves energy and reduces the size of the new products carbon footprint. If you use batteries, buy rechargeable ones. Instead of buying a whole new printer cartridge, refill an existing one. There are so many possibilities when it comes to business recycling to not only create a more planet friendly community but will also support your bottom line with cost savings.
We as a society have gravitated to a greater expectation of fast one-day shipping. Let’s be honest. We want everything now. We don’t want to wait. The challenge is, we’re killing the environment in the process. There are more delivery vehicles on the road, which contribute to increased carbon emissions. Plus, in an effort to get parcels to people faster, there is a significant decrease in delivery route efficiencies. Check out our CEO and Founder’s blog here to learn more about this.
ShipperBee is changing regional parcel delivery throughout North America. We aren’t your typical shipping company. We don’t employ full-time drivers. We have a collaborative delivery driver network that is filled with people who are already on the road and in transit. Think commuters, stay-at-home parents, retirees and students. We leverage their unused vehicle space to transfer parcels across our Hive network from parcel pick-up to final destination drop-off. In the process, we are reducing carbon emissions by up to a whopping 70%+ per parcel.
With huge advances in telecommunications and the introduction of cloud-based technology, working remotely is efficient and productive. There are tremendous benefits reported by providing telecommuting options to staff. Organizations that encourage and support work from home capabilities often report higher levels of employee retention, reduced turnover, higher employee satisfaction and increased productivity and autonomy.
It doesn’t stop there however. Carbon emissions are dramatically reduced with remote workers using less gasoline and producing less vehicle-based emissions and air pollution from commuting to and from work. Studies have also shown that office energy is nearly twice that of home energy use because employees tend to treat energy usage differently across the two. Plus, without a pit stop at the coffee shop during the commute in or purchasing lunch during the day, less plastic is from lids, beverage bottles, utensils, food packaging and plastic bags are ending up in the landfill.
Business travel, especially flights, can often make up over half of many business’ carbon emissions. A round-trip flight between New York and California generates approximately 20% of the greenhouse gases your car emits over an entire year. Overall, the aviation industry accounts for 11% of all transportation-related emissions in the US. Cutting travel down, especially if meetings can be held over a video conferencing platform, can make a huge difference. Not only will this cut emissions, but it can save your business a lot of money by cutting down flight costs. If you have to travel by air, select non-stop flight options. Taxiing, take-off and landing are the largest sources of airplane emissions. You can also buy offsets with some airline carriers or donate your loyalty points toward replanting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
If your business requires the use of company vehicles, opt to use hybrid cars instead of gasoline powered vehicles. Hybrid cars run cleaner and use less mileage, and let’s be honest, they boost your brand’s “coolness quotient.” Your branded company vehicles not only spread awareness for your business, they also demonstrate your focus on sustainability. Seriously though, they’re just as comfortable to drive as the gas guzzler you potentially have right now and there are a variety of models that can accommodate your work requirements and lifestyle – from small sedans to SUVs. Plus, while they cost an average of $4,650 more than a fuel run vehicle, you’ll save that in gas over the lifetime of the vehicle’s ownership while emitting less pollution. Hybrids make much more environmental sense.
For appliances used intermittently, such as photocopiers and monitors, enable the ‘power save’ mode to reduce energy consumption when not in use. If these options are unavailable, turn them off or unplug them at night and over the weekend. While the energy savings are just 10%, every little bit adds up, particularly with millions of businesses around the world taking these steps every single day.
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