Summary: Top 5 Quick Wins for Big Impact
Last week was the final post in the series of Top 5 Quick Wins for Big Impact, so I thought a summary of the series would be useful for those of us who are a bit short of time to read all five articles...please enjoy these highlights and delve into the original articles for further details.
#1 - Change Your Energy Supplier
If you're not already on a green tariff then you can make a huge impact by switching...both in terms of reducing emissions and supporting a more sustainable world. The more people and businesses to switch, the more demand for renewable power pushes development in sustainable sources.
There are more than ten providers in the UK who supply 100% renewable electricity, though the green gas market is a little more complicated. The supplier you choose will be based on your preferences for a number of factors, such as price, contract terms, availablity in your area, and the ethical priorities of your business and customers. Please also remember that every little bit helps, so if you your first choice of green provider is not practical for you (for whatever reason) then going with the next best option will still make a difference and is still much better than staying with a standard provider.
For further details and a run-down of sustainable suppliers, see the full article here.
#2 - Plant trees. Lots of them!
It's impossible to run a business in the modern world without making emissions, and/or being responsible for their generation further up the supply chain. Whether it's power, transport, electronics, internet server use, stationery, product supplies, packaging, inventory, or the tea and coffee in the office kitchen, everything has an environmental price. And while it may take a little bit of initial effort to work out how much CO2 your business is responsible for, there is luckily something very tangible that can offset those emissions: trees.
And you won't just be helping with emissions. As a basic rule of thumb, the more trees we have the healthier the planet is; trees are also a defence against other forms of air pollution, rising salinity, erosion, flooding, habitat loss, climate fluctuations, extreme weather and much more.
Once you've decided to plant some trees, you can go one of two ways - 1. Plant as many trees as you can afford; or 2. Do a rough CO2 emissions calculation and ballpark a number. If you'd like to make even more impact as a business, you can look into a Carbon Strategy or Carbon Neutral certification.
For more details and a list of tree-planting organisations, read the full article here.
#3 - Size Matters: Buy Consumables In Bulk
You can reduce the amount of total packaging you buy if you purchase the same product in bigger containers; this can save resources, transport, and reduce the amount of post-use material leaving your premises. And if you need any extra incentive, it will usually save you money too - both in the purchase price and in the waste disposal costs!
The idea here is to have a refillable smaller containers for daily use, like a glass hand-soap dispenser that is filled from the larger bulk container.
Globally, we consume resources at a rate that would require approximately 1.7 Earths to meet sustainably - that means that by August 1st 2018 we had already consumed all of the resources our planet could sustainably provide for the whole year (this is called Earth Overshoot Day). Everything we use after this date is borrowed from future generations.
Prevention is the most effective thing we can do, so every single item that we don't
use/buy/create/recycle is one less item we have to borrow from the future of humanity.
Want to know more? Read the full article here.
#4 - Sign Up to TerraCycle and Recycle Everything
TerraCycle is a multinational company that specialises in recycling items that usually end up in landfill. They offer a range of boxes that you can buy online, and when the box arrives you fill it with that category of waste and send back to them when full. They also partner with companies to facilitate packaging recuperation in a range of free programs, where you can take that brand's empty packaging to a central drop-off point or download a free shipping label to send it back to them.
Be warned: they're not cheap. But the price represents the true cost of dealing responsibly with the items we usually throw away so readily; perhaps more accurate pricing will encourage reduction of resource use more than anything else will.
Of course, preventing waste is always the first and best option. But our society is not currently geared up to make a completely zero waste existence always possible, so for those times when waste really is unavoidable, TerraCycle will make sure it becomes part of the circular economy, instead of going to landfill to be buried until another day.
#5 - Stop Buying Bottled Water
The UK has some of the best drinking water in the world, and here in Scotland we are especially fortunate that our tap water tastes better than most premuim bottled waters. Numerous comparisons have shown that bottled water is not safer, nor better quality, nor better tasting, nor more regulated than UK tap water (or any good water supply in a developed nation). Yet the UK buys 8 billion bottles of water per year, at 500 - 1,000 times the price of tap water.
The manufacture of each bottle releases approximately 160g of carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere - the equivalent of driving about 2km in a car and up to 2,000 times the footprint of tap water. Furthermore, each bottle uses twice as much water again in the manufacturing process, so each litre of bottled water actually represents three litres in total.
If you don't like the taste of your tap water, there are a number of sustainable alternatives to buying bottled: filter jugs and tap attachments will change the taste and remove common minerals like chlorine and fluoride. If temperature is a problem then you can keep glass bottles in the fridge.
For drinking on the move, refillable drink bottles made of glass or steel are the best option. There is also an app called Refill that will guide you and your staff to over 14,000 refill stations - both public fountains and businesses who are willing to refill - and they're constantly adding more.
To find out more details, and tips on how to minimise the impact if you get stuck and have to buy a bottle, you can read the full article here.
That's the summary of our Top 5 Quick Wins for Big Impact series. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment for us below.