In recent years the desire for sustainable products has skyrocketed. Nielsen studies show that 66 percent of consumers would spend more on a product from a sustainable brand, and 81 percent of global consumers feel that organisations should operate more sustainably.
Individuals, brands, businesses, and even whole countries have begun to put the planet's needs before their own. Tech giants such as Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030 and, ahead of the world's most significant climate change summit, we heard the Queen and Greta Thunberg's disdain for ‘talking shops.’
The conference was billed as a moment that would go down in the history books and save the habitat for future generations. But not all countries met the level of ambition expected. The Glasgow Climate pact has put more pressure on nations to commit to actions more in line with the Paris Agreement by 2030.
Most of Western Europe and North America will pull the plug on financial support for overseas fossil fuel projects by this time next year. Many nations also agreed to accelerate their plans to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Six of the world’s leading car manufacturers (Volvo, Ford Motors, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, BYD and Land Rover) said they would stop making fossil fuel-based vehicles by 2040.
The failure of wealthy countries to mobilise funds was a consistent theme throughout the conference. However, a new agreement will see established nations compensate vulnerable countries affected by rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions.
According to experts, if implemented, the agreements made at the congress will prevent rising atmospheric altitude, but it may not decrease to the desired level. As we have seen with the Paris Agreement, there is no guarantee that each country will carry out their commitment; it is down to us as individuals to pledge our allegiance to the planet.
Here is a quick reminder of how you can reduce your carbon emissions.
Travel responsiblyCars are one of the most significant sources of carbon emissions. Since Covid-19, millions have ditched the daily commute, favouring 1-3 days in the office, and more people have opted for virtual meetings instead of frequent business travel. Businesses can support individuals by facilitating car shares, rewarding cyclists, and introducing electric car schemes, which often come with tax incentives. At the Crimson Office we have recently installed electric car charging points.
Support environmental causesConsider the businesses you are buying from and switch to those that help the environment by offsetting their emissions. Make more ethical investments by boycotting pensions that invest in fossil fuels. Royal London and Jupiter Ecology are worth exploring. Whilst gas and electricity prices are at the highest in decades, why not ditch the deal mentality and make smarter choices.
Adapt your lifestyle
Red meat is carbon-intensive; farm animals emit methane, which releases greenhouse gases that are one of the causes of global warming. So, by eating meat less, just two or three times a week, you can make a huge difference. Also consider other foods you're buying and where they're grown, for example why not buy apples grown in the UK rather than flown all the way from New Zealand.
For those of us who are lucky enough to go abroad, it's not a good feeling to know that the amount we travel is polluting our planet. Longer trips or travelling abroad less frequently is advisable.
Consume less, buy better, recycle and repair.
Textiles are one of the biggest polluters on earth. Think about switching to sustainable goods that are less likely to need replacing. Avoid sending items to landfills by fixing them or giving them a new use. Avoid plastics by sourcing refillable products.
Wrap up warm
While working from home during the colder months, consider wearing more layers or using a blanket. You may find that you can reduce your thermostat by one or two degrees which helps the environment as well as your bank balance.
Give your home or office the green treatment
Invest in high-quality loft insulation, heating systems such as the HIVE that help you zone rooms, smart appliances, and energy-efficient lighting. Whilst many of us have heard of solar panels, you can also use home energy battery storage to help capture energy.
Grants are available for alternatives to gas, such as air and ground source heat pumps. In addition, water consumption can be reduced by fitting low-flow aerators on sink taps, dishwashers and washing machines.
Workplaces can also save money and the environment by downsizing their premises, operating set days in the office and ensuring they have LED lights and movement sensors.
How else can organisations make a difference?
Many businesses are already focused on reducing their carbon footprint by implementing measures like:
- Establishing a ‘green team’ to help research solutions, educate others and drive change within the organisation.
- Rewarding those that travel responsibly and initiating fun challenges such as ‘Meat Free Mondays’.
- Donating old tech and going paperless to stop creating unnecessary waste.
- Opting for eco-friendly office supplies, cleaning products, and introducing desk plants that increase the flow of oxygen.
- Planning a team activity such as walk and litter picking or planting trees.
- Becoming a ‘B Corp’; these organisations have to adhere to standards and expertly balance profit and purpose.
What is a sustainability strategy?
A sustainability policy or strategy is an organisation’s commitment to practices and standards that meet its legal and broader social-environmental obligations. It outlines how a business intends to promote responsible operations, mitigate its impact on the environment, and positively contribute to the planet.
Why you need a sustainability strategy for your business
It reduces costs and increase operating profits
According to McKinsey, a sustainability strategy can reduce costs substantially and can increase profits by as much as 60%.
It creates a competitive advantage
Being purpose-driven can help you attract talent and customers. A survey by Nielsen reveals that Millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers to want to change their habits to reduce environmental impact, Generation Z even more so. In addition, nearly 40 percent of Millennials have accepted a job offer because of the company's sustainability, and they are willing to take a pay cut to work at an environmentally responsible organisation.
You can attract investors
Take a look at Dow Jones Sustainability Index to understand how environmental sustainability can strengthen an organisation’s brand.
Having a strategy will make your more resilient to change
A sustainability policy could help protect your business from future regulations. It also complements requirements for large businesses such as Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR).
Make a difference in 2022
If you want to learn more about how to build and implement a sustainability strategy check out this blog from the Energy Saving Trust: Creating a sustainability strategy for your business - Energy Saving Trust.
Eighteen percent of the UK’s carbon emissions are from businesses, and under the Climate Change Act, it is a legal requirement in the UK to reach net-zero by 2050. Studies estimate that digital technologies already contribute to 5.9 percent of global greenhouse emissions (almost three times as much as international aviation).
However, according to the Harvey Nash Digital Leadership survey, more than half of organisations recognise that technology is crucial to improving their carbon footprint. Still, greener and cleaner are placed second to last on the board’s priorities for the technology teams.
It won’t be long before every business is held accountable, and those playing catch up may struggle to survive. But, as individuals, we must also take responsibility for our actions; the New Year could be the perfect time to become a productive eco-warrior and spearhead all things green within our organisation.