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Going green – Your business can’t afford to be seen as a gas-guzzler

Environmental concerns are not always the top priority for small business owners. First and foremost, businesses exist to make money, and sometimes other things can take a back seat.
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Businesses are driven by cash, and it is perhaps idealistic to expect going green to be done out of the goodness of leaders’ hearts. But being environmentally friendly can have tangible benefits for your bottom line, too.

Environmental concerns are not always the top priority for small business owners. First and foremost, businesses exist to make money, and sometimes other things can take a back seat.

Sure, it would be nice to go green, but wouldn’t it be a distraction? Wouldn’t it cost money?

In fact, it doesn’t have to cost the earth to make your business more environmentally friendly, and it can actually save you money and build your reputation.

As consumers are becoming more and more enlightened about saving the environment, business owners may very soon find that going green is a necessity – and to be seen as a gas-guzzler can tarnish reputations.

The demand for ethical businesses

The last few years have seen a significant rise in consumer demand for ethical products and businesses, according to the Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2016.

The report found that the green car revolution is worth around £8.4bn, partly due to increased consumer awareness; local shopping for ethical reasons in 2015 grew by around 11.7 per cent; and the value of ethical spending in the UK in 2015 grew to around £38bn.

There is no denying the appetite for ethically sourced goods and services is on the up – and businesses of all sizes would be wise to consider this when choosing suppliers. Being an ethical business is not just about how any one company behaves – it’s about the behaviour of its entire supply chain.

In addition, the report found 53 per cent of the UK population is choosing to avoid buying products and/or services over concerns about ethical reputation. This suggests that going green might not just affect your company’s reputation positively, but that it could affect it negatively to ignore environmental concerns.

Keeping an eye on cost

There are cost-effective ways of supplying your business with green energy, you just have to know where to look. Some 100 per cent renewable eco-energy products out there offer long-term contracts with a locked-in price so that you can budget for the years ahead with certainty.

The Big Six energy companies (EDF, British Gas, npower, E.ON UK, Scottish Power and SSE) have cut Green Energy Tariffs, so in the future it is expected that businesses will increasingly be turning to alternative energy suppliers.

Aside from up-front costs, you can also look to save energy in simple ways, like keeping lights switched off when you’re not in the room, and switching to LED light bulbs (see more on how to go green in part two).

It can also be beneficial to a business to adopt a “lean” work ethic. Being lean is all about eliminating waste and improving efficiency, and striving for continuous improvement. It’s not always about being environmentally friendly, but it sits well alongside green initiatives and can often result in a business lowering its carbon footprint as well as costs.

Overall, you might be surprised how affordable going green is – and in the long run, it might end up being a boon to your business, and your reputation.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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