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‘Saving the planet’ or ‘protecting the environment’ can seem quite esoteric terms that have nothing to do with running a small business. After all what effect are you going to have on something as large as a planet?

Well, it turns out quite a lot. And this shouldn’t really be a surprise. Our governments are elected because so many individuals choose to vote: it’s a small individual action that affects us nationally.

Destroying our environment

The environment is struggling because we take too much out of the ground and don’t put enough back and also because a lot of the processes we use doing this poisons the atmosphere and changes weather patterns. As individuals and even very small businesses, we can choose to do something about this.

To find out more about this, a good place to start is the Go Green Action Plan which is really easy to complete and gives you a lot of great ideas. I make no excsue here for using the their five headings to offer a few basics.

Planning and resilience is about identifying issues and deciding what you can do about them; making changes that ensure you comply with legislation, shifts in attitude and similar market forces that might otherwise catch you out. Under travel and transport you could look at how you could improve the commute, by car-sharing, joining the government cycle to work scheme, offering flexible hours to enable cheaper bus fares.

Energy and efficiency is fairly straightforward: by turnig off lights and equipment when not in use, by looking at alternative energy sources like solar or low energy bulbs (at Centre Gate we looked at LED lighting which would have halved the number of fittings we needed and then halved the cost of those we had), by printing off a slittle data as possible, etc it is possible to make significant savings.

Sustainable sourcing means going right through your supply chain and checking their environmental activity and making similar improvements. Could your cleaners be using environmentally neutral pproducts for example? Happy and healthy is about the effect on employees: a lot of this work will have a positive benefit on all members of the team.

Many business owners think this is going to be expensive and laborious, but just take even the quickest look at the Go Green Action Plan and you will see this is far from true. It takes 20-30 minutes and will give you a range of ideas. Some actions may benefit from government grants or subsidies and a lot of the actions will actually save you money.

Additionally there are sound business benefits. Employees are actively seeking organisations who are serious about these issues and your attraction and retention rates may well improve, along with your productivity. Existing and potential clients also may well want to align themselves with businesses around environmental concerns.

Check out the Go Green website.

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