Do you consider carbon footprint reduction important for businesses?
Consider this: Small businesses make up 90% of businesses worldwide and affect the livelihoods of over 2 billion people. Their combined carbon footprint is estimated to contribute 60-70% of industrial pollution.
Customers and employees also demand sustainability from businesses: 71% of consumers would pay more for sustainable brands; 57% of consumers would change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental footprint; (source: IBM), and 65% of employees say they’re more likely to work for sustainable businesses source: Reuters). So, why have the majority of small businesses not implemented decarbonisation strategies yet?
Our team’s recent survey of 600 small businesses in the UK, Australia and New Zealand gave some insight into this, with many businesses claiming that they were wary of greenwashing and that they didn’t feel they had the knowledge or tools to implement meaningful change, or to have a significant impact. At Cogo, we believe that real change is possible through collective, small efforts. You can read my previous thoughts on the power of collective effort here.
Perhaps the key then is to start small, look inward and trust in the power of compounding positive actions. It does help to have some tangible examples, however, so here are a few simple first steps you can take to start lowering your business’s carbon footprint:
You can only manage what you measure. The first and most important step if you want to reduce your business’s carbon footprint is to know where you’re at.
Start by measuring your carbon footprint based on your everyday business activities (start with the biggest ones first, i.e. if you’re a taxi company, start with the vehicles you’re using). This way, you’ll know what you’re working with and which areas you need to prioritise.
Cogo is building a tool to help simplify this measurement for businesses. If you’d like personalised, specific insights and actions, make sure you sign up here to be the first to know once we launch. Hint: it’s soon!
Once you know where you’re at, you can set a target in your financial year strategy to make sure you’re accountable. This will also ensure that your goals are realistic; you’ll probably not be able to be completely carbon neutral within a year, but small steps create habits and build a foundation to do more.
Once you have the basics sorted, start looking at how you can offset your remaining carbon footprint and collaborate with others to make this easier.
This is where the goal of being carbon neutral can become more attainable/realistic. If you find that there are no more options for reducing your carbon footprint, you can consider offsetting emissions. At Cogo, we always recommend this as the last step, as reduction needs to be a priority when it comes to long-term change.
A key element of a carbon footprint reduction plan, as with any strategy, is continuous improvement. Your strategy should be dynamic and continue to reflect changes in your business environment, and you should be communicating these changes to your employees and customers, who will become advocates for your business sustainability efforts.
Continuous improvement and consistent carbon reductions and reporting will mean that you’ll be able to pursue a certification such as Toitū or BCorp. Then, it will be your role to lead and influence more change by encouraging customers, employees and competitors and looking for opportunities to collaborate to have an even bigger impact.
Now is an ideal time for businesses to cultivate a ‘collective mindset’; one that believes that when it comes to change, none of us is as powerful as all of us and the collective impact of making small changes can be massive. Play your part in limiting global warming! All you have to do is start…