Saving the planet one action at a time – what businesses can do to be more sustainable  

Earth
By Stephanie Kelly | 22nd April 2022 | 3 min read

When I see statistics such as, ‘since 1990, the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest – an area the size of Libya’, I can’t help but worry for the future of our planet. 

Something needs to change! 

While some companies have taken steps to reduce their environmental impact, almost a fifth of greenhouse gases in Britain still come directly from businesses. More needs to be done. 

However, uncertainty around sustainability persists for many, with businesses facing huge question marks around what changes to make and how to improve their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). 

As today is Earth Day, I’ve taken time to reflect on what I believe businesses can do to be more sustainable and what we’re doing ourselves at IRIS to make a difference. 

Certify your business 

For those looking to take bold action, getting an environmental certification, such as a B Corporation (B Corp), may be the move for you. 

But how can getting an environmental certification help with your ESG initiatives? By registering for certifications, you gain access to a fantastic network of other like-minded businesses who can offer advice based on their experience. 

There’s also a wide array of working groups to join, providing a great opportunity to get peer-to-peer advice. 

Reuse and upcycle when kitting out your office  

I expect many businesses have looked to ‘do-up’ their office a little now that Covid restrictions have lifted and more staff are returning to the workplace.  

There are small steps you can take to create a more stylish workplace with minimal environmental impact. 

Rather than purchasing furniture and equipment brand new, consider sourcing vintage or second-hand. The market for second-hand office goods is pretty buoyant right now. 

If you’re looking for further inspiration, eOffice published a great article highlighting the benefits of upcycling: https://bit.ly/3vvuwXj  

Set ESG goals for your business   

While it may sound like an obvious suggestion, I must stress the importance of outlining what you want to achieve before embarking on a journey to make your business greener. 

Examine your current business model, locate areas that can benefit from added focus and use this insight to concentrate your efforts. 

Additionally, setting goals enables you to provide stakeholders with tangible information about the work you’re conducting. 

The impact of showcasing your ESG commitments is highlighted by stats, such as over 73% of millennials say they’d prefer to buy from a sustainable business. 

Embrace hybrid working 

Covid has brought working from home into the mainstream, with many businesses initially adopting it as a means of survival. 

But now, by embracing a permanent shift towards hybrid working that sees employees splitting their time between their home and the office, you can drastically reduce your business’ carbon footprint. 

Less 'brick-and-mortar' office demands result in your electricity, gas and office supplies usage dropping significantly. 

Additionally, with employees ditching their commute when working from home, you’re simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint by cutting out their travel. 

What we’re doing at IRIS 

I’m proud to say that at IRIS, we place enormous emphasis on our responsibility to the world! A few initiatives we run that you could look to implement in your own business include: 

  • Dedicated Green Group: To keep ESG initiatives at the forefront of what we do, IRIS has created a Green Group consisting of employees looking to make a difference.The Green Group helps determine what IRIS can do to reduce our impact on the environment and the subsequent steps needed. 
  • Giving Back Days: For us, it’s important to be the change you want to see in the world, and with that in mind, we encourage all employees to take Giving Back Days, in which they can take fully paid days out of work to do charitable activities in their communities.  
  • Action Planning: We’ve established goals within IRIS, for example, becoming carbon neutral by 2030. To achieve our ESG goals, an action plan is in place with steps such as conducting a supplier sustainability review, utilising low energy office equipment and committing to a laptop reuse/recycle scheme. 

One action at a time 

I know for many, the thought of starting and implementing ESG initiatives can seem daunting – especially with so many options to choose from. 

However, simply making that first move and taking it one step at a time will play an enormous role in supporting our environment and making a global impact.