Climate Change – How sustainable is your business?

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Climate change is a scary reality. In just the last few weeks we’ve all heard reports of terrible flooding in Belgium and Germany, extreme heat in the US, and wildfires in Greece.

Regardless of where we live, we all need to do what we can to minimise our impact on the planet.

As business owners, we all have so many challenges to overcome, tackling something as huge as climate change can feel impossible. That’s where the FSB is hoping to help!

The United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties is an annual meeting of world leaders focused on addressing the climate emergency we all face. COP (Conference of the Parties) is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In November, the UK will host the 26th conference, and the FSB is providing a range of support and advice for small businesses in the run-up to the event.

There’s a range of information on their dedicated Climate Change pages on their website, and you can sign up for emails and additional details. A Small Business Sustainability Hub includes explanations of the terminology that we’re all hearing more and more, and the commercial reasons why you might want to get involved sooner rather than later, alongside other articles.

Larger businesses are being forced to meet targets around climate change, and it’s only a matter of time before those filter down to the rest of us. Given that small businesses make up 99.3% of the UK’s Business Population, that could be a really good thing from a climate change perspective!

It’s important though that as small business owners, we balance the need to protect the planet with the need to protect our businesses. That’s why it might be sensible to start to think about sustainability and modifying our processes and behaviours now, when many of us are still adjusting from the pandemic.

One of the first starting points is to look at your existing practices and processes, to get started with sustainability and perhaps to start to improve matters. The FSB suggests the following five simple ways to get started:

1 Look at your property.

Consider the energy efficient of your premises. There may be grants available to improve matters, whether for you as an owner or your landlord.

2 Look at your processes.

Can you adjust your daily activities to reduce energy consumption? The FSB suggests the following:

  • Turn off lights, computers and equipment when not in use
  • Turn down the heating
  • Keep your equipment maintained and efficient
  • Hold online meetings to cut down on travel

3 Look at your suppliers.

  • Shop around and see if you can switch your energy provider to one with stronger green credentials.
  • Source local and sustainable suppliers to cut down on the carbon footprint of your materials.
  • Make the switch to eco-friendly packaging materials and plastic-free options where possible and encourage your customers to recycle these.

4 Look at your deliveries.

  • Can you make your deliveries in a more sustainable way by grouping multiple orders together or offering bulk deliveries?
  • Could you purchase an electric vehicle (or even a bike) if your deliveries are mostly local?
  • Can you choose courier and delivery services who have stated a commitment to reducing climate change or who practice carbon offsetting?

5 Look at your lifestyle.

The FSB suggests the following as easy ways to show your personal commitment to making a difference:

  • Stop using single-use plastic for reusable cups
  • Switch to reusable shopping bags and encourage your customers to do the same when they visit you
  • Register with the cycle to work scheme and encourage employees to travel more sustainably
  • Appoint someone in your business to champion sustainability, keep the momentum going and develop new skills

 

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