Ethical business or social enterprise means different things to different people, but to me, a significant part of it is ensuring that our environmental impact is minimised.
So in this post I’m sharing some easy ways to ‘green’ your business, whether you work from home or a fancy pants office or co-working space.
1. Tea and Coffee
Let’s deal with the really important stuff first..! And the thing that keeps most businesses (large or small) and most business owners up and running.
When it comes to tea and coffee, look out for organic, fair-trade and if possible, plastic-free.
Coffee pods are an absolute no-no – if you need a real coffee fix, go for a good ‘old fashioned’ cafetière and your favourite blend. You can compost the coffee grounds, or use them as slug repellent in the garden (apparently it works!).
When it comes to tea, loose tea wins out over tea-bags, because it’s a little known fact that most tea-bags actually contain plastic and never fully rot down.
2. Coffee cups
A no-brainer. Keep a coffee cup in your bag when you’re on the go, or if you’re in a bigger office you could even use an actual china mug – I know, revolutionary hey?!
Have a look at Keep-Cup – they are an Australian company who are doing great things to make re-usable cups mainstream, and they have a UK distribution hub which decreases their carbon footprint for the Brits.
3. Switch your search engine
Have you heard of Ecosia? It’s an alternative search engine to Google (who as we all know have a questionable attitude to paying their taxes…) and they use their ad revenue to plant trees!
4. Drinks bottles
Ditch the plastic bottles. It really is that simple.
Invest in a re-usable bottle, and take that with you, or keep it by your side at your desk.
Check out Jerry Bottle for ethical re-usable waters where the profits are re-invested back into water projects around the world. Or Give me Tap where every bottle you buy gives a person in Africa access to clean water for 5 years.
5. Green hosting
There are more options that you might think of for ‘green hosting’ of your website. This might means that your web host is using renewable energy sources, or carbon offsets, and generally runs their business to minimise their environmental impact.
For those in the UK, check out Green Hosting, Eco Web hosting or Eco Green Hosting.
6. Go paper free or use recycled paper for printing
I have to admit that I think I would find it hard to go entirely paper-free. I still sometimes find it easier to proof large documents on actual paper, and I have to print out workbooks for some of my workshops.
Having said that I know that a lot of companies are making the move, and it is so much more possible now with different programmes that allow you to share your calendars and documents with colleagues and clients.
If paper-free isn’t possible right now, then at the very least make the switch to recycled printer paper, print double sided if your printer will let you, and use your scrap paper for well, scrap!
7. Re-fillable ink cartridges
We’ve tried these before, but our printer kept having a paddy about them. It was a few years ago though, so it might be time to try again.
Some local ink shops will provide the service for you, or if you’re in the market for a new printer, Epson have one with tanks that you can re-fill rather than cartridges (saving all that plastic!).
8. Switch energy suppliers
A really simple switch is change to a renewable energy tariff. Most companies now offer a ‘green’ tariff, but it can vary as to how ‘green’ these actually are. Take a look at Ecotricity and Good Energy, both of whom have 100% renewable tariffs and excellent customer service. And from my now experience, they are no more expensive than the ‘Big 6’.
9. Shop local
This is another easy one. If you need books, or office supplies, check out your local independent shops, rather than giving your money to one of the big retailers. When you shop locally, more of your money stays in the local economy, and you are supporting another actual person and their business, rather than simply lining the pockets of shareholders.
10. Ethical banking
This is another relatively easy switch to make.
Check out my podcast with Lisa Stanley from Good with Money for lots of chat about the benefits of ethical banking. There aren’t a huge number of choices for ethical business accounts here in the UK, but do take a look at Triodos.
This list is by no means comprehensive, so what have I missed out?
What are the easy changes you have made to ‘green up’ your business? Do share them below, or hop over to Facebook to join in the conversation in my Making Good community 🙂