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    5 ways to instil sustainable practices in your employees

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    Sustainability and protecting the environment are in the spotlight again. Activists like Greta Thunberg are pushing for real change, highlighting the impact of poor sustainability practices and advocating for a greener world.

    We saw the environmental benefits of lockdown, which dramatically reduced CO2 emissions in the UK. As a result of fewer people travelling, carbon emissions are expected to drop by a record 5-10% by the end of 2020. But since the initial lockdown has eased, activists and officials are looking for ways to keep these levels low.

    One of the biggest contributors to environmental damages is business. That means business owners have a responsibility to reduce their carbon emissions. They should also encourage their employees to become more sustainable. We are currently at a “historical turning point”, so it is time to update your company’s eco-policies. If you don’t, you risk falling out of step with the modern, green-focused consumer.

    In the UK, mid-sized organisations are taking their environmental responsibility seriously. Over half (57.5%) claim that sustainability is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ influential in their decision-making. Businesses who care about their environmental impact also see extra benefits. A sustainability report found 71% of businesses who made positive changes also reduced their outgoing costs.

    Your business needs to update its sustainability practices to help keep climate change under control. And often, that starts with your employees. Here’s how to inspire your people to become more eco-friendly.

    Highlight sustainable transport options

    Lowering one’s carbon footprint at work starts with how they get there in the first place. In most cases, many employees will be using their own vehicle to travel to the office. Although this might be convenient, it’s a wasteful method of commuting. In the UK, a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions come from road transport. That’s why it’s important that you do your part to encourage employees to utilise different methods.

    The most eco-friendly way for employees to travel to a physical workplace is cycling. That’s why it’s important to have a cycle to work scheme set up in your organisation. As well as eliminating carbon emissions from employees’ commutes, cycling to work will also save them money and improve their health.

    Another way to eliminate individuals’ commuting emissions is by encouraging remote working. Over the past few months, many companies have found that their employees are as productive at home as they are in the office. This move towards remote working is a great way to tackle the commuting carbon emissions. Other options to consider include using public transport instead of driving.

    Switch to a green energy source

    All businesses need a source of energy. Switching to a sustainable fuel like propane is sure to benefit your business if you are off the mains gas grid. With potential cost-savings and reduced emissions, making this switch will result in a reliable and dependable energy supply. A spokesperson from Tamnavulin Distillery explained the company’s reasoning behind making the switch from oil to gas with Flogas: “As a business it was essential for us to go beyond the required environmental standards and not only have we achieved significant emissions improvements, but we have reduced our fuel bill as well.”

    Businesses who switch to an environmentally friendly fuel source are in a great position to raise awareness among employees about the benefits. This can lead them to reassess their energy choices, which could save them money and reduce the emissions created in their home as well as in the workplace.

    Offset your carbon emissions

    It’s impossible to eliminate your carbon emissions entirely. But you can take your eco-friendly activities a step further by taking part in carbon-offsetting. Opting into a carbon-offsetting initiative can mitigate your business’ energy emissions. You’ll also be supporting essential sustainability projects around the world.

    Again, this is a fantastic opportunity to lead by example. By educating your employees about carbon-offsetting, you can encourage them to do it in their personal lives. This will be especially impactful for people who travel a long distance to offices or client sites and have to travel by car, plane or train.

    Make your supply chain sustainable

    If sustainability is important to your business, it makes sense to work with other businesses with the same values. As a result, you’ll create a greener culture and champion an eco-friendly way of working. Connect with sustainable vendors the next time you host a social or a networking event. Additionally, build relationships with sustainable firms by offering company discounts or other incentives.

    You can also flip this around and promote your business’ sustainability efforts. Organisations looking to make their own supply chain sustainable will be more likely to consider you as part of their network.

    Go paperless

    With digital storage and presentation solutions, there’s little need for paper documents in modern office environments. Why not go one step further and make ‘paperless’ your policy? This could also extend to kitchenware, new starter packs, and any other disposable products that could be switched out for a reusable or digital alternative.

    Getting employees out of the habit of printing documents is a key step in achieving a paperless office. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office set out targets for reduced business paper consumption in its FCO2 report, which have successfully been met thanks to businesses going paperless.

    Embed sustainability into your company culture

    Your company culture is critical to influencing the actions of your employees. That’s why you need to address your business’ environmental impact in your values. In doing this, you’ll empower your employees and change the way they think about sustainability. Ensure that you communicate your eco-efforts clearly and proudly to your workforce. Make sustainability a topic in discussions and meetings whenever possible. Creating a green company culture will inspire your employees to become more sustainable.

    Business owners must take responsibility for their organisations’ and employees’ carbon footprints. One of the most effective ways to reduce this is by empowering employees to take sustainability into their own hands. By taking these steps, you’ll help create a greener, cleaner planet.

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    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien