How to Cultivate a Green Culture in Your Small Business

September 15th, 2016

Small business recycling and green cultureGoing green in an organisation is more than just switching the lights off each night when you go home. It’s a change in culture, and the directive has to come from the top. The management of a company needs to clearly show they mean business if the rest of the staff are to follow suit.

But with our busy lives, it has to be easy to adopt any change that’s thrust upon us, and that’s where policies and the right communication comes into play. Many of your customers may now be asking to see a formal environmental policy from you or inquiring how your business interacts with the local neighbourhood.

Actually moving to a green culture is fairly straightforward if planned correctly. Most of the steps are fairly obvious, but it’s formalising the ideas and plan that ultimately make a real difference to your business and environment. The rest of this article looks at the initial planning stage through to real examples of how simple changes can make a difference to both the world outside and your bottom line.

Understand What You Want to Achieve Long-Term
Before you begin, as with any business planning exercise, you need to decide on your end goal. Your objectives can range from simple changes like recycling to a policy change that requires all products sources must be from renewable resources. And of course, there’s plenty of scope in between those extremes.

Once you have a goal and a timeframe in mind, you can work on the policies and processes you want adopted.

Simple Policies That Are Easy to Implement
The policies you create and introduce are there to attain your overall objective. They should be concise in nature, and have clear and attainable objectives bound by time. When devising your policies, it’s best to involve as many team members as possible, as it’s your staff that are going to implement any changes. They’ll be able to tell you if the policies are realistic and how the changes will be perceived by the rest of their team.
The most successful companies introducing change also implement some form of reward system. If you’re moving from a zero-green environment, then financial rewards linked to achieving the policies helps focus the minds of employees.

The management team must lead by example and follow any policies they’ve introduced themselves. Change won’t work if the staff see the management are ignoring their own advice.

Whatever policies are developed, they should be promoted internally, and the results communicated on a regular basis. All objectives should be measured and reported so everyone can see the progress you’re making.

Changes Any Organisation Can Make
No one likes change being forced upon them, but there are some easy ways to begin the green journey. Here are a few examples.

1) Changing light bulbs to energy-efficient versions. This change is nearly always the first on any list, but it does have the desired effect. LED or fluorescent light bulbs cut electricity consumption by up to 80%. An office using 50 of these will save £400 a year just on this change.

2) Finding the high tech equipment that sucks power is an easy win to reduce your energy consumption levels. For example, laptop computers use 82% less power than a desktop computer with a monitor. A wholesale change here saves an office using 30 desktops £1,736 per each year.

3) Recycling. Although it’s not going to save any cash per se, having recycling bins in the office kitchen or in a store corner helps the environment. Depending on council policies, businesses can recycle just about anything these days as in the home. Recycling covers plastic water bottles, Coke cans, envelopes, packaging and anything else that can be used again. A recycling bin can be any sized container that can hold these items. It doesn’t need to be a special purchase.

4) Purchasing policies can have a dramatic effect on the environment. Many office supplies companies offer a green alternative. When buying products to use, ask about different options. Recycled paper for photocopying is one thing, but ensuring it’s unbleached saves the brightening agent from ending up in our rivers.

5) Encouraging staff to walk or cycle to work. Although it’s not practical for some isolated businesses, many could offer a financial incentive to those not using their cars to travel to work.

Wrapping It Up
Communication and action are the key roles in developing a green culture in a business. There are plenty of cost-efficient changes that have positive environmental impacts and also save money in the long-term.

If you don’t have anything in place, then you might want to begin with the quick wins. But rather than approach this piecemeal, draft a policy, get staff buy-in and start your green journey today!

By Jason Smith.

Jason Smith is a blogger and energy expert who has helped businesses increase their energy efficiency for over 10 years. Jason’s valuable expertise has helped thousands of companies cut their energy costs each year. He manages the website Business Electricity Prices, which advises small- and medium-sized businesses on reducing their utility bills, and continues to share his knowledge with the corporate world.