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Future-proofed trading: five ways to make your business more sustainable


Whether you run a neighborhood café or a multinational company, embracing sustainability can help make your business and the planet more resilient.

From the coronavirus pandemic to the climate crisis and the uncertainty generated by Brexit, businesses across the UK are faced with a myriad of challenges while trying to reach a more sustainable footing.

Not just for the good of the planet. Adopting environmentally friendly business practices is increasingly seen as a way to remain competitive in a changing world. A 2016 survey conducted in the US found that 64 percent of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental credentials when deciding where to work, a proportion that has likely grown as awareness of the crisis has increased. climatic.

In addition to attracting climate-savvy employees, companies that score high on sustainability are well positioned to attract an increasingly conscientious consumer. In short, tackling sustainability is one way to future-proof your business.

The Naturesave Trust, an environmental charity funded by the ethical insurance provider Naturesave, has been evaluating businesses for more than 25 years and offering them advice on sustainability. The trust conducts assessments known as Environmental Performance Reviews (ERP) for Naturesave’s business clients.

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“It provides a clear framework for companies to become more sustainable,” says Alice Doyle, an independent environmental consultant, who conducts EPR for Naturesave Trust. “We try to reduce a company’s greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, considering all possible factors.”

For some, the EPR has provided unique insight into the exact ecological impacts of each part of their business. “It was an impressively comprehensive report,” says Philip Koomen, owner of Oxfordshire-based Philip Koomen Furniture. “It connected the dots and allowed me to assess exactly what I was doing.”

For others, the review acted as a reliable seal of approval. Ian Falconer, founder of Fishy Filaments, a recycling company that takes used fishing tackle from fishing fleets and processes it into supplies for 3D printing, says it was a “perfect way” to demonstrate to customers that a third party you have verified your processes.

Drawing inspiration from Naturesave EPRs, here are five practical steps companies can take to become more sustainable:

How to make my business more sustainable

Millennials increasingly want to work for companies that have a purpose beyond profit. Image: Helena Lopes

1. make your money matter

One of the most impactful changes a business can make is being more demanding about where they invest their money. According to the campaign group Make my money matter, approximately £ 3 trillion is invested in UK pensions and much of it helps finance the fossil fuel and weapons industries. Many banks and insurance companies also use their clients’ money to invest in the fossil fuel sector.

To make sure your business money is driving positive change, consider switching to an ethical bank, such as Triodos United Kingdom, and pension fund, and take out an ethical insurance premium. Make My Money Matter says doing so will allow businesses to participate in “building a future we can be proud of, economies we can trust and an environment we can thrive in.”

Good with money is a useful resource for individuals and businesses looking to drive positive change with their money. Its ‘Good Egg’ accreditation system identifies financial services companies that benefit society and the environment. “We need to understand where our money is going and then consciously direct it to a better place,” said co-founder Rebecca O’Connor.

We need to understand where our money is going and then consciously direct it to a better place

2. Switch to a renewable energy provider

Another powerful but simple way for businesses to become more sustainable is to switch to a renewable energy provider. Large cleaning switch, a green energy comparison site that has worked with brands like Ikea and Ben & Jerry’s, says that, on average, customers save £ 270 by switching to renewable energy.

“We have discovered two things since the launch of Big Clean Switch,” says Jon Fletcher, CEO of the company. “The first is that green fees are super cheap. The second is that the energy system is complicated and boring. That’s why we pride ourselves on making it easy for people. “

How to make my business more sustainable

Switching to a green energy provider can save businesses money and save carbon. Image: Chris Barbalis

3. Collaborate for a company culture change

Changing the culture of your company so that employees also feel committed to sustainability goals is a more complicated step, but just as rewarding.

Naturesave, which works to encourage behavior change among staff, stakeholders and customers, offers a classic example. Since 2009, the company has offered a “no-fly” vacation incentive, which means that staff receive additional paid leave if they travel by land instead of flying. Half of the Naturesave staff have used the plan at least once. Climate benefits, a campaign run by an environmental charity Possibleencourages other companies to do the same.

4. Be part of the conversation

In recent years, a growing global community of companies has emerged eager to promote better business practices. Many have signed up for B Corp Certification, a voluntary scheme that legally requires companies to evaluate the impact of their decisions on workers, customers, suppliers and the environment, in a new model of balance between “purpose and benefit”.

Another way to be part of the movement is through Positive, a forum that Naturesave helped establish and that allows regenerative companies to share tools and knowledge. A third is getting involved in organizations that push for legislative changes, such as Power to the people, who wrote the local electricity bill, which makes it easy to expand community power projects, and Climate and ecological emergency bill, which has charted a path towards net zero emission while tackling the biodiversity crisis.

How to make my business more sustainable

A growing global community of companies is sharing knowledge to help others become sustainable. Image: LinkedIn

5. Set goals and celebrate successes

Business sustainability is something that needs to be maintained on a regular basis rather than achieved all at once. That is why it is important that companies that set sustainability goals are reviewed annually.

“It has to be a work in progress and you have to take active steps towards change,” says Naturesave’s Doyle. A tool that can be useful to measure this is the Bioregional One Planet Living Frame, which presents 10 simple principles to improve sustainability, as well as tips and ideas for the objectives and goals to be achieved.

Lead Image: Adam Winger



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