8 Tips for more Sustainability in Companies
Sustainability has been a huge topic for a while now. Consumers shop more consciously, look for sustainable alternatives and prefer companies that are environmentally conscious now. That’s why every self-employed person and company, regardless of size, should make a contribution to environmental and climate protection. Doing so not only meets the demands of consumers and helps the environment, but also protects the company’s budget in the long term and promotes a positive image. We have summed up some suggestions for more sustainability here...
Tip 1: Business Account with a Sustainable Bank
“Green” banks conduct their financial transactions ecologically, fairly and ethically. Unlike many large private commercial banks, they do not invest in nuclear and coal-powered electricity or in arms deals. Ethical banks support the energy transition and do not make investments in genetic engineering, animal testing or projects that destroy the environment. Anyone who maintains their business account with a green bank is contributing to environmental protection and sustainability. One such bank is for example Triodos Bank.
Tip 2: Plant Trees with Every Search Query
Small effort, big effect: Change your search engine and start searching the web with Ecosia instead of Google. Because the search engine uses the income from the search queries to plant trees. According to its own information, Ecosia has already planted over 123 million trees. Another plus: Ecosia does not sell any data to advertisers, does not use third-party tracking and anonymises all search data within a week.
Tip 3: Rely on Green Electricity and Save Energy
Contrary to popular belief, green electricity is on average no more expensive than normal electricity. On the contrary, according to an evaluation by the German Federal Network Agency, electricity customers save an average of two cents per kilowatt hour when they switch from their basic supply contract to a green electricity contract. When switching, however, make sure that you are dealing with a trustworthy green electricity provider. Because unfortunately there are also many companies out there who who disguise themselves as “eco” companies, but are not really.
In addition to an ecological electricity provider, energy-saving office organisation is also important. This includes energy-saving devices (notebooks, copiers, printers, etc.), economical use and an energy-efficient IT infrastructure. For example, laptops use up to 70 percent less electricity than tower computer systems. If you also select the setting so that appliances switch to stand-by mode after a few minutes of non-use, you will save even more - not only energy but also costs.
Tip 4: Sustainable Shopping in Companies
You should also keep sustainability in mind when choosing suppliers and when making purchases and placing orders for your company: Order your office supplies from sustainable providers and find out about the origin and transport routes of your ordered goods. Also: Give printing jobs to companies that print on recycled paper, and rely on robust and durable materials instead of buying items cheaply but needing to replace them constantly. Order fair trade coffee for the kitchen, use environmentally friendly cleaning agents, install water filters, save paper ... There are no limits to sustainable creativity.
Tip 5: Working from Home and No Business Trips Protect the Environment
Home office, remote work and no business trips: During the Covid pandemic, companies have had to rethink existing processes and change the way they work. And that helps the environment: Less commuter traffic, less travel and therefore less CO2. The German initiative "nachhaltig.digital" (sustainable.digital) has calculated on the basis of its own one-day event that a virtual video conference with 166 participants causes about 69 kilograms of CO2, whereas the same conference held physically would produce 52 tonnes. A report from the German Institute for Applied Ergonomics e. V. (ifaa) already showed in 2019 that over 850.000 tonnes of CO2 could be saved if another 10 percent of the workforce in Germany would work from home one day a week (source: gemeinschaft-digital.de).
These changes can also apply to the time after the Covid pandemic: Before going on a business trip, think about whether it’s really necessary or whether it could be replaced by a digital meeting. When travel is a must, use public transport and avoid air travel.
Tip 6: Establish a Green Corporate Culture
If you implement some of these things in your company and in your everyday office life, you have already achieved a lot. However, it’s important that you anchor sustainability in your corporate culture and act accordingly. This also means that you have to get your employees on board. Make everyone in the company aware that a sustainable corporate culture is important to you and communicate all measures transparently. Call on your employees to contribute their own ideas and reward environmentally friendly and sustainable action. For example:
- Provide company bikes or subsidise them
- Subsidise job tickets for local public transport
- Reward employees who come to work by bike (for example with a company bike).
- Promote private commitment to the environment, for example with an additional vaccation day
- Rely on fuel-saving company vehicles or e-mobility
- Carry out sustainable team events (for example, participation in World Cleanup Day) or set up a sustainability day where you can do something for the environment together or implement a suggestion from an employee
Tip 7: Compensate for CO2 Emissions
If you want to do even more, you can voluntarily offset the CO2 emissions of your company. This means that you offset your emissions by purchasing certificates that offset the same amount of emissions through climate protection projects. According to a survey by Bitkom, every fourth small company (20 to 99 employees) already does this, and with large companies with more than 500 employees it’s about 40 percent. Use ecological shipping materials, reduce box sizes, combine several orders in one delivery.
Tip 8: Act Sustainably – and Talk About it
Of course, you should actively practice sustainability and environmental and climate protection in your company and not just tackle these issues because your competitors are doing it or because you want to improve your image. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also talk about your commitment.
Put the topic of sustainability on your website and show in a separate area what you have already implemented and what goals you are setting. Feel free to openly admit what is not yet working perfectly and what you still want to implement – that creates transparency and credibility. If you carry out specific actions, perhaps also together with your team, share them on your social media channels and encourage the team to participate. If certain information is important for your customers, for example the environmentally friendly shipping of your goods, you can also include this in your FAQs.
But keep this in mind for all publicity measures: Stay honest, don’t gloss over anything and don’t overdo it; otherwise it can quickly be interpreted negatively.
Sustainability and employer branding
Incidentally, acting sustainably not only promotes a positive image and can bring you more clients, but also helps you find new employees. After all, sustainability in the workplace is becoming more and more important, especially for young talent. According to the “Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018”, environmental protection is one of the five most important goals that companies should campaign for in order to inspire young workers.
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