May 2021

5 ways to make your business more environmentally friendly


It’s the United Nations’ World Environment Day on 5 June, a day dedicated to encouraging worldwide awareness and action for protecting the natural world.

Being environmentally friendly is a challenge, but one most of us embrace in our daily lives. However, if you own and run your own business, it could be a blind spot in managing your carbon footprint.

Fortunately, there are plenty of easy changes you can make in your business to reduce your impact on the planet.

Some of these changes could save you a bit of extra money. And, with governmental pledges for net zero carbon emissions often brought up at international summits, it could become costly if the UK puts a price on carbon, a commonly proposed deterrent.

Here are five ways to make your business more environmentally friendly.

1. Switch to a green energy tariff for your offices and workplaces

An easy, low-cost change you can make is to see whether your energy provider offers a green tariff.

Choosing a green tariff means you know the energy your office and workplaces uses is produced using sustainable energy, such as from solar and wind.

There are various exclusively green providers, such as Ecotricity, GEUK and Good Energy, who only offer sustainably sourced energy. If you’d prefer a name you’ve already heard of, many high-profile providers now offer a green tariff, including E.ON and EDF Energy.

Typically, these tariffs are no more expensive than their carbon-heavy equivalent, and they can make a big dent in your carbon output.

If you have the money in your budget and want to take this to the next level, you could consider installing solar panels onto your buildings. Solar panels allow you to generate your own power, meaning you potentially don’t have to pay a provider at all, and you can even sell excess power back into the National Grid.

Bear in mind that solar panels are expensive, and it can take upwards of 20 years to recoup their total cost in money you can save in energy. But, if you have the time and the budget, they could be a good, long-term solution for your business and for the environment.

2. Choose a company pension with a green fund choice

You can reduce your passive carbon footprint and help your employees to reduce theirs by choosing a pension provider that offers a green pension fund choice.

Nest, the UK’s largest pension provider with over nine million members, now offers a dedicated green fund, exclusively investing in funds and companies with good environmental credentials. Their traditional funds now also actively divest away from carbon-heavy investments, meaning even their standard funds are becoming more environmentally friendly.

Data from 2020 now shows that ethical investments can outcompete their traditional counterparts, too. So, switching to a green pension fund could even be a practical, fiscal decision.

Make sure you speak to a financial planner before making changes to pensions, as this could directly impact your employees’ retirement funds.

3. Reconsider recycling and waste

It may be a small step, but it’s straightforward to increase your recycling and reduce the amount of landfill waste in your offices and workspaces.

Simple changes include buying recycled paper, distributing reusable water bottles, and replacing all single-use plastics with either reusable, recyclable or biodegradable alternatives. This can save you money too, as your alternatives could be cheaper or last longer than a single use option.

Make sure you have dedicated recycling bins, and check that all staff know which bin to use for each type of waste.

4. Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient ones

While it’s easy to replace some things in your business that can reduce your carbon footprint, there are some things that you just can’t go without.

Luckily, newer equipment tends to be more energy efficient than old technology. Consider replacing any older machines that are starting to look tired, or that have a particularly low energy efficiency rating.

This doesn’t mean replacing all your electronics for the sake of it; buying new equipment can actually be bad for your carbon footprint, as it takes energy to produce and ship it to you.

Use your old tech until it stops performing optimally or it finally breaks down, then replace it with the more efficient alternatives. Make sure you buy high-quality equipment, so that it lasts longer before you have to replace it.

5. Work with sustainable suppliers

Doing your bit to reduce your carbon output in your business is great. However, it’s slightly redundant if you aren’t working with other sustainable companies in your supply chain.

Your ability to exclusively use sustainable suppliers will depend on what kind of business you run, but you’ll no doubt be buying something from someone.

Choose suppliers who share the same eco-friendly goals as you so that every part of your business is as sustainable as possible.

Please note:

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Levels, bases of and reliefs from taxation may be subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor.

Workplace pensions are regulated by The Pension Regulator.