Is it time to go green?

Should your business be taking steps to ‘go green’ as a priority right now? Absolutely! And for many more reasons than you may expect. In this article we investigate the myriad benefits of becoming more sustainable and examine some straightforward ways to do so.

By current estimates, between 18% and 22% of the UK’s CO2 emissions are the responsibility of businesses, and that number rises considerably if agriculture is included.

Some fantastic organisations are innovating on a grand scale to help the environment, a few examples being the amazing FastRig sales, by Smart Green Shipping, which can make huge savings on fuel consumption for the shipping industry, the great work being done by Carbon Capture Scotland to capture, reuse, and remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and J.G Findlay who are exploring impressively ground-breaking ways to improve the environment through agriculture.

Even on a far smaller scale though, there are so many benefits to initiating changes towards becoming a more environmentally friendly organisation, and now is the time to take steps. it’s far easier than you might think to become a greener business.


Increasingly, customers now choose to give their loyalty to organisations that are actively green. A research survey conducted by consultancy group Simon-Kurcher & Partners, which questioned over 10,000 people, found that product sustainability is now classed as an important consideration for 62% of UK consumers. 33% of UK customers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services. They are happy to pay 25% more money for sustainable products and greener alternatives, compared to their previous purchases. A whopping 86% of UK consumers said they had become greener in the purchasing they’d done over the last five years.

There’s so much choice out there, and so many products and services to choose from, why should people choose to give their business to you? Differentiating yourself from your competition is crucial right now. Instigating green initiatives, and being loud and proud about doing so, can really help your business stand out from the crowd. Where a small initial investment may be required to kick-start your move towards sustainability, in the long run you’ll be able to make cost savings and see many long-term benefits, such as:

  • The obvious one; it’s helpful for the environment
  • It can be profitable for your business
  • It can reduce your operating costs and decrease overhead expenses
  • It can improve your company’s reputation
  • It inspires greater loyalty from your customers
  • It makes recruitment and retention easier as people are keen to work for green employers
  • It can help you get tax deductions or tax credits
  • It can elevate your brand


There are loads of different ways to improve your businesses’ carbon footprint. Here are a few straightforward suggestions.

It’s good to start by assembling a ‘green team’. Ask for volunteers so that a few of your employees can form a committee, with the aims of; reviewing your current situation, devising a plan of action, and implementing good changes. Just by including your staff, you can get a head-start on improving your company’s reputation, as word will spread that you’re taking this seriously.

You can even save money on the tax you pay as there are incentives for becoming more environmentally supportive. You can read information on how this affects UK businesses here.

What changes you ultimately make will depend on your priorities, your size, your sector etc. Here are a few good ideas to get you started:

Save energy
  • You can save a significant amount of energy just by making a few small changes. You can upgrade your tech, for example in your offices, to help you save energy. Some changes are simple and affordable, and will save you money in the long run, such as:
    A smart lighting system, which is triggered by motion sensors and will switch off lights once a room has been unoccupied for a few minutes, saving on unnecessary electricity. Or at the very least, can you swap your lightbulbs for energy-saving versions?
  • A smart energy meter, common in homes but just as useful for your business premises. Smart meters show energy use in detail and provide reports on when your usage is at its highest, giving you the chance to monitor where your money is going
  • A smart water meter will allow you to see water usage, to find out if there is any wastage you can avoid
Reduce your paper use, or even go fully paperless

Going entirely digital isn’t just better for the planet, it’s also better for your bank balance. Avoiding printing as much as possible saves on the costs of paper, ink, and electricity.

  • Are you still using a paper-based filing system? You could consider online alternatives such as a cloud storage system, which would give you the comfort of easy access from anywhere in the world.
  • Encourage staff to avoid printing out meeting papers by bringing their laptops or tablets along to the meetings and viewing the papers on those.
  • When ordering paper for those rare occasions when you absolutely must print, look at buying recycled paper. Recycled paper is usually produced with 28-70% less energy than traditional paper manufacturing methods, and purchasing it supports the UK economy because recycled paper is commonly made in the UK.
Reuse where you can, or donate

All too often we throw things away without a thought, contributing to landfill and causing problems for the planet. Can those plastic cups be washed and used again? Can you use the back of that paper to make notes on before recycling it? If you’re forming a sustainability committee or ‘green team’, ask them to review what money can be saved by reusing supplies.
Do you have spare merchandise or supplies you’re intending to throw away? First, consider if they can instead be donated to a local charity or community scheme, or perhaps to a school or youth club. That goes for electrical items, or furniture too. You may find a local program keen to take things off your hands and make good use of them.

If you don’t already have a company recycling scheme, now is the time to initiate one

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) the UK generates 26m tonnes of waste each year, 12m tonnes are recycled, and 14m tonnes are sent to landfill sites. If your workplace is still throwing everything away in one place, it’s time to invest in a few more bins so things can be separated out. Have a chat with your local council to find out how they prefer things to be separated. Often Local Authorities are very happy to provide advice to local businesses, and some even offer incentives for recycling some items such as printer and toner cartridges. Most of your employees will already be used to recycling at home, so getting them on board with doing so in the workplace should be trouble-free.

Introduce remote working, or at least hybrid working

Remote working has become popular since Covid 19 first hit our shores. Improvements in technology have made it straightforward for many jobs to be completed from home. Where appropriate, can you encourage your employees to work from home all or part of the time? The savings they can personally make from reducing commuting costs will likely be appreciated. You may save yourself money in the long run if employees feel financially supported, as they’re more likely to stay in their roles. The average car produces 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide annually, so by avoiding the daily commute, the environment really benefits. Less people in the office also means less energy will be used; kettles, computers etc, which will reduce your operational costs. Many companies have even downsized to smaller, cheaper (and in some cases newer/greener) locations, because less desk space is needed if some of the workforce is at home.

Consider moving to electric, or hybrid, vehicles

Many organisations have already made the switch to electric vehicles and are reaping the benefits. Recent fuel price increases may encourage many more firms to consider following suit. Is it time for your business to consider ‘going green’ in this way? If your organisation provides company cars for employees, there are savings to be made in how much car tax you pay, by switching to electric vehicles, meaning you can help the planet whilst also helping yourself.

Encourage your employees to cycle to work or car-share

If having your staff working at home doesn’t work for you, how about setting up a carpool programme? Encouraging employees to share fuel and parking costs by travelling together with someone they live locally to, can have the same effect, saving money, which can increase morale. Potentially this could also have an added benefit of improving employee relationships and creating friendships. Carpooling can be a good way to introduce staff that ordinarily may not interact at work. This can create an increased sense of community in the workplace.

Why not extend this even further, pairing up with other businesses in your area? If two or more businesses get together, implementing a carpooling scheme that could make better use of existing resources and may mean employees will find it easier to locate parking.
There are tax incentives for encouraging your employees to cycle to work. Many employers are providing cycle/cycling safety equipment to their staff in conjunction with salary sacrifice arrangements, by subscribing to the Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme. Through this scheme, the employee usually pays a monthly rental, which is deducted from their salary before national insurance and income tax. This means that their taxable income is smaller, so they pay less tax and, in doing so, make significant savings on the cycle itself. You can read about the scheme here.

Improve your packaging

If your organisation manufactures and/or sells products, you could consider switching to more environmental packaging. Plastic packaging is extremely damaging to the planet, when thrown away it ends up in landfill as non-biodegradable waste. There are lots of great recyclable or biodegradable packaging materials available now, and making the switch gives you a great place to advertise your green credentials – right there on the packaging!

Choose greener suppliers

Get your new staff ‘green team’ to conduct a review of all your current suppliers. Are they sustainable? Are they actively going green themselves? If not, it might be time to switch to suppliers that impact the environment in better ways.
In terms of saving energy, there are now a number of UK energy suppliers who deliver electricity from renewable sources. It’s always worth contacting your current energy provider to see if they have a renewable energy tariff. If not, it’s time to shop around for a greener deal. Many renewable electricity providers are willing to match the prices you might be paying currently.

Reduce single-use items

Sadly, almost all plastics end up in landfill sites, and don’t biodegrade. One of the most significant ways businesses can go green is by cutting back on single-use products, especially plastic products. Review the items in your business that are only used once, and then thrown away, and see if they can be swapped to reusable alternatives. Give up plastic water bottles for example and introduce a water filtration system with reusable cups instead. In the long run you could save money by investing in changes like this and encouraging your staff to avoid single use plastics.

Get involved in green events

It’s a great idea to encourage your employees and stakeholders to get involved. Talk about it on your social media channels and staff intranet. There are loads of great events to look into. A few good examples are:

End vampire power

Your business may be bleeding money away through ‘vampire power’, a term given to those electronic items of equipment left on, such as chargers, computers and monitors on stand-by mode. These things are often left on overnight which results in them literally bleeding money from your bank account all the time. Encourage staff to unplug chargers and properly turn devices off when they’re away from their desks for long stretches of time.

Generate your own energy

Depending on your size, premises, and location, you may be able to install solar panels or mini wind turbines, to generate your own power; a short-term investment that’s certain to pay off in the long run.

Shout about it!

How does your organisation appear in the eyes of your customers, employees, and contacts? Helping them to see your business as actively green, gives you an opportunity to promote your company as an environmentally-sound and truly caring organisation.

Going green is one of those times when it’s completely acceptable to brag. Have you made important changes that are good for the environment? Great! Now tell everyone what you’ve done!

Your organisation’s reputation can only be improved by your customers, contacts and employees hearing about the environmentally positive changes you’ve made. Plus, you may just inspire other organisations to follow suit. There are no downsides to going green, so you should head straight to your website and social media channels and boast about your important achievements. When the planet wins, we all win!