Five ways your business can take climate action
Greening the office, engaging your employees, switching to renewable energy, closing the loop and going climate positive.
In 2019, there is an increasing sense of urgency to take climate action. Thousands of children around the world are taking part in school strikes, recent protests in London shut down roads and Attenborough’s hard hitting documentary brought the realities of climate breakdown into focus for millions of viewers. On 1st May 2019, the UK declared a climate emergency.
Business has a huge impact on the planet. With this comes an opportunity to change, improve and take action. B Corps believe in balancing profit with people and planet and are leading the way with their environmental performance.
Whether you’re looking to make small, collective changes or considering setting long term environmental goals, here are five ways your business can take climate action, written by B Corps in the UK.
Green the office
By Robin Tyler, Purchasing Manager at Cotswold Fayre
Last year, the management team at Cotswold Fayre, decided to green the office to reduce our impact on the planet.
A simple first step was to remove individual waste paper bins from under our desks. Using a single food waste bin and recycling bin has reduced rubbish to landfill by two thirds! All the office paper we use is now 100% recycled and paper waste is recycled.
After implementing these changes, we quickly identified other changes we could make. These included; installing a hand dryer (saving 20,000 paper towels) and switching electricity suppliers to Ecotricity, a 100% green electricity supplier. We also changed loo paper and kitchen towels to B Corp, Who Gives A Crap (this is 100% recycled and 50% of the profits are used to build toilets for people who need them). At home, ten of us have switched to Bulb (another B Corp) which uses 100% renewable electricity and gas that is 100% carbon neutral. All consumables used in the office are now environmentally friendly brands.
All these changes required minimal effort and could be made by any business, of any type or size. Start with this small list and from here, you might decide to make bigger changes — low energy lighting, green web hosting, electric cars, the list is endless!
Engage your employees
By Matt Hocking, Director at Leap
At Leap, we do everything we can to minimise our carbon footprint. Our team get involved in many ways but we’ve found the Do Nation pledge challenge to be the most effective way to engage our employees. Do Nation (a fellow B Corp) is a platform where organisations and individuals can write pledges to make small changes to their everyday habits.
Making pledges has taught our team how simple actions make a difference. It’s been amazing hearing conversations between team members about making purposeful changes. From switching to renewable energy, to cutting out sugary drinks, to using non-dairy milk in the office and being more conscious about the food we eat, these tiny changes have a lasting impact, personally and environmentally.
We took part in the challenge earlier this year, alongside fellow B Corps innocent, Wholegrain, Invivo Clinical and Cafedirect. However, the changes we made have stuck and our eight person team have reduced CO2 emissions by 20,000 kg annually. Plus it’s been really fun!
I’d recommend any business, of any size, to take part in a Do Nation challenge and discover the potential difference you can make, collectively.
Switch to renewable energy
By Andy Stephens, Head of Sustainable Food at COOK
Kermit the Frog famously observed “It’s not easy being green”, but that was before renewable electricity became so readily available.
At COOK, we decided to switch to 100% renewable energy in 2017 and were surprised how easy it was to implement. Our energy brokers, Beond Group, put out a tender to renewable energy suppliers to provide quotes, then we picked the one that was suitable. Simple as that. In one step we’d roughly cut our annual carbon footprint in half — that’s by 2,368 tonnes, about the same as 650 households switching to renewable electricity — at a cost comparable with non-renewables, too.
When choosing suppliers one thing you should check is that they are able to provide Renewable Energy Guarantees Origin (REGO) certificates, certifying the energy as being green. We are currently purchasing our electricity from Orsted who generate green energy through offshore wind farms and bio energy plants. Switching itself will not require any changes to infrastructure or equipment, you will still receive your energy from the grid, but you will be using your buying power to vote for a more sustainable energy system.
We recognise that buying green electricity is a good first step not the silver bullet. At the moment we’re working with a community energy Co-Op to explore whether a project involving solar panels on the roof of our new kitchen is feasible and looking for more ways to use energy more effectively.
Close the loop
By Jo Chidley, Founder of Beauty Kitchen
99% of beauty packaging is thrown out after just one use. Beauty Kitchen are here to change that. We recently launched our new ‘Return · Refill · Repeat’ program where you send your Beauty Kitchen packaging back to us, and we’ll wash and reuse it for the next batch of your favourite Beauty Kitchen products. Think of it like a modern day version of a milkman except for beauty.
How are we making this happen? We’ve switched our packaging to glass or aluminium, making it easy to wash and reuse. In fact, we’ve redesigned every single element of our packaging with reusability in mind. This includes no glue on our lids which means these can be washed & reused too, further minimising waste and closing the loop on packaging. We also work with rock paper labels (no trees or water needed to produce them). This minimises packaging and pre-cycled packaging, by making use of other brand’s unwanted bottles, jars and even fabric, that would otherwise go to landfill.
Designing or thinking with the end in mind works across all industries and If you use packaging, a few simple questions can close the loop. Is it recyclable? Has it been recycled and if not could it be? Setting achievable goals and going on the journey is the most important step any business can take.
Go climate positive
By Lauren Ellis, PR and Events Manager at Intrepid Group
At Intrepid Group, we have just announced our goal to become climate positive by 2020. We have been carbon neutral since 2010, offsetting carbon emissions from all trips by purchasing carbon credits associated with a range of renewable energy projects. Now, we’re aiming to become climate positive which means creating an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
As a purpose-beyond-profit business, we recognised that operating sustainability is no longer enough and that we needed to find ways to re-generate the planet. Climate action has to be a priority for anyone who loves travel. We believe that we have a responsibility to make a positive difference and help to preserve the planet for the next generation of travellers.
We’re working with our not-for-profit — The Intrepid Foundation — to raise funds for an innovative new seaweed solution that will do just that. We’ve joined forces with the Climate Foundation and the University of Tasmania to start crowdfunding for a new marine permaculture initiative that will regenerate marine ecosystems in Tasmania and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
The first task for other companies wanting to take a leadership stance on sustainability is to understand where they are having an impact, whether it be good or bad. Then you need to ensure that the sustainable purpose-driven ideology is built into your decision making. We’ve seen the financial benefits from working in this way, achieving three consecutive years of record growth including a 17% increase in revenue in 2018.
Thank you to Robin, Matt, Andy, Jo and Lauren for sharing B Corp stories to inspire businesses in their journey to tackle the climate breakdown.
A first step for any business interested in measuring their environmental performance is by using the free B Impact Assessment tool. Any company wishing to certify as a B Corp has its performance assessed by B Lab across all dimensions of its business. These companies are on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure business leverages its power to be a positive force in the world.