Think just because you’re a small business that you don’t have a role to play in combating climate change? Think again. Small businesses can make a big impact and the fight to combat climate change is no different. Here are some ways that you can take action before it’s too late.
This January, in the space of a week on the east coast alone, we experienced fires, floods, hail, and a dust storm. The science is scary, and the extreme weather events around us are even scarier. However, one of the best ways to fight the fear and paralysis of the climate emergency is to, as Greta Thunberg implores us, take action now. We can all be doing more, and we all need to do more.
Governments and big business have a big role to play in combating the climate crisis but, as small businesses – we do too. Climate change impacts our economy, and few people feel the fluctuations of the economy more than small businesses. Climate change, and the devastation it is causing, is forcing businesses (including ours) to rethink their impact and sustainability. It is also prompting consumers to do their research and support products and services that have a net positive impact on the environment – and deliberately avoiding big polluters and companies chasing profits at the expense of Mother Nature. In fact, greater sustainability could even be a competitive advantage for your company.
Nevertheless, social scientists have found that when one person makes a sustainability-oriented decision, others follow suit. Small things every day, by everyone, add up to big change. Here are ten easy, inexpensive ways that your small business can level up its sustainability game in 2020 and create the kind of healthy, green, and thriving world we all need.
1. Clean up your money
Did you know that, since 2008, Australia’s big four banks (ANZ, NAB, Commbank & Westpac) have loaned $70 billion to fossil fuel projects? In fact, off the back of this finding, Market Forces developed a full list of every banks’ record on investing in fossil fuels. Do you know your bank’s record? From your bank to your superfund and even your investment portfolio, cleaning up your money is one of the most effective ways to take meaningful action on climate change. At Ecovantage, we are proud members of Australian Ethical Super, but we encourage you to do your research to make sure that your superfund aligns with your values. To get started – here is a good place to start on aligning your money with your values, as well as this article about top-performing ethical funds.
2. Get your mugs out
Many of us rely on our caffeine hit to get through the day with a whopping 16.3 coffees being consumed daily across the country. While investing in a reusable cup is a great option, what if decided not to buy more ‘stuff’ and instead used the mugs in our cupboards to trek down to the local café in the morning or picked up a few extra mugs at our local op shop? (Same goes for bowls and plates for your lunchtime meal.) This might feel like a small thing to do in the face of such catastrophic climate crisis but when you consider that an estimated 5 billion disposable cups end up in landfill every year – getting your mug out seems a small price to pay for the planet.
3. Let there be (LED) light
Did you know that LED light bulbs consume at least 75% less energy than traditional incandescents? Changing to LEDs is an effective way for your small business to save on your energy bills at the same time as saving the planet. With a longer life span, reduced maintenance costs and fewer carbon emissions, the return on investment for upgrading to LEDs kicks in as soon as you make the switch. The best bit? Many small businesses are eligible to upgrade their lighting to LEDs for just $33 under the Government’s Energy Saver schemes. Find out if you’re eligible for the small business rebate here or check out the new Business Energy Advice Program (BEAP) for advice to help your small businesses reduce your energy usage and let there be light!
Extra tip: Change your energy policy to include a Green Power component! It will cost a bit more but it is worth it. You can even set a goal of reducing energy use by 10% to offset the additional cost. Want more information? Get in touch with our Customer Service team!
4. Audit your vendors and suppliers
If your small business wants to fight climate change, find other companies and organisations that do, too, and do it together. That’s right – it’s time for an audit of your supply chains, vendors and providers. Do your values align? Can you choose a local vendor for supplies that not only supports your local economy and other small businesses, but cuts back on fossil fuels in terms of manufacturing and logistics? Many small businesses are looking at becoming B Corps in 2020 and, as part of the certification process, you will undergo a social and environmental impact assessment. Find out more about the B Impact Assessment here and even brush up on which businesses are B Corps and all them to your list of vendors and suppliers. Remember: doing good is good for business.
5. Plant trees as you surf the net
‘Google it’ has become the catch cry of a generation – but what if you could find the answers you need and plant trees at the same time? That’s what Ecosia is all about: they use the profit they make from your internet searches to plant trees where they are needed most. All you need to do is download the free browser extension, and your small business can be helping plant trees with every click. Easy!
6. Take the road less travelled
In the fight against climate change, our primary goal is to limit the use of fossil fuels such as oil, carbon and natural gas and replacing them with renewable and cleaner sources of energy. That means we all need to look at the way we get around town (and around the world). Walking, riding a bike, taking public transport or even sailing around the world in a wind-powered boat is not an accessible option for everyone – and we get that. So, if a car is your only option to get to work or to conduct your business – perhaps try carpooling or using ridesharing apps instead, even one day a week. And, if your small business doesn’t already have a flexible or working from home policy – perhaps it’s time to make one. Future you, thanks you, for helping save the environment.
7. Meat-free Mondays
A study from the Environmental Working Group shows that red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as vegetables and grains. In fact, if cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the US. We’re not suggesting everyone becomes vegan overnight, but why not try out Meat-free Mondays at work? There’s plenty of recipes to choose from on their website, and it might even bring your office closer together, sharing a meal with the intention of lessening your impact on the environment. Bon appetit!
8. Start an office compost
Now you’ve cleaned up your money, it’s time to turn your attention to the office by starting a compost. We know they can be a bit smelly and attract critters, however, starting a compost in your office as well as your home is a great way to reduce the 5 billion tonnes of waste (or 1 in 5 shopping bags) created by Australians every year. There’s never been a better time to start composting at work or home with a range of new products on the market. Choose the one that’s right for you in this helpful list by Home Muse, or incentivise employees with a compost at home to take home the scraps – win win!
9. Hustle for the climate
Too often small businesses, and even consumers, see sustainability as an extra cost or obligation. However, we see it as an opportunity and the price we pay for living on this planet. There are a growing number of programs and organisations available and ready to help your business transition to carbon neutrality or making significant strides towards more sustainable operations. For example, you could sign up for Start Some Good’s ‘Good Hustle for Our Climate’ online program or download one of the litany of resources created by Project Drawdown, a global research organisation that identifies, reviews, and shares the most viable solutions to climate change. Let’s take responsibility for informing ourselves about the best way to turn the tide on climate change and make it our mission to play our part.
10. Sharing is caring
Every choice you make has the potential to inspire others to make a change as well. We are all in this together, and if we pool our collective wisdom, we might just be in with a chance to turn this planet around. Do you have a green initiative you’re really proud of? Or perhaps a vendor that you want the world to know about? Promote them! As we’ve said before, we have to make doing good, good for business – so, what are you waiting for? Shout it from the rooftops!
There you have it… ten tips for your small business to combat climate change in 2020. Although a few Keep Cups and a bicycle won’t halt climate change in its tracks – most experts agree that every little bit helps. If we manage to channel the 46% of GDP generated by small businesses in the right ways, we can make a big impact on the emergency at hand.
Make 2020 the year that your small business levels up its sustainability game and do your bit for a healthier, greener world.
This blog was originally created for BASic Bookkeepers and has been re-posted here with permission.