Tips for small businesses to cut greenhouse gas emissions

As a freelance proofreader I operate from a home office and already I have reduced my carbon footprint as regards travel to work as I do not use a car or public transport. I merely have to walk to work, which takes a few seconds. Further savings in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved in changing how you operate your business and the use of resources for heat and light, stationery, and other supplies. Here are a few tips that save emissions as well as operating costs and time, many of which I have adopted or plan to implement shortly.

Energy

  • Switch to an energy supplier that favours providing energy from renewable resources. In my case I moved to one of the smaller residential energy supply companies in the UK who state that “all our tariffs come with at least 33% renewable electricity as standard”. What is more they offered a two-year fixed price deal rather than one-year deals that are often the norm currently, and this swung it for me. Some companies will offer 100% electricity from renewable sources, but often at a higher price.
  • Only switch on printers, photocopiers, and computer screens when in use and do not leave on standby for hours at a time. I work at my computer screen most of the day, but when I step away from my computer for a few minutes, or perhaps for lunch, I turn off the screens. You can also switch your computer to sleep mode if you do not need it to run operations continuously, such as receiving urgent emails and carrying out scheduled updates, and computer virus and malware scans.
  • Use low energy light bulbs, such as LED bulbs, for task lighting. These are more expensive to install but often last for many years longer.
  • Ensure double glazed windows and external doors are installed next time you upgrade.
  • Check that loft insulation to the latest recommended thickness is installed. You can sometimes get grants for this depending on your own circumstances.
  • Avoid using bottled drinking water by using only filtered tap water.

Stationery

  • Choose letterhead paper and envelopes that are Forest Stewardship Council Certified, and use copier paper and notepads made from recycled paper, when existing paper stocks expire.
  • Recycle all toner and ink cartridges through various charities that advertise online. They will sometimes also collect or accept old IT equipment.
  • Arrange for invoices in and out to be sent or received electronically wherever possible, as well as bank and credit card statements. This saves the cost of paper, postage, and petrol.
  • Pay bills online using internet banking, or by direct debit/standing order. This also reduces bank charges.
  • Recycle paper and cardboard waste, and shred paper where confidentiality is required, using local authority recycling services, which are often free for households. Also, if you are a keen gardener some of your paper waste can be used in your composting bin.

Travel

  • Avoid attending meetings where the subject matter could just as easily be dealt with by Skype, telephone, or email. You will save a lot of time as well.

Start thinking about how you can cut down on waste and in the process save money and time.

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