While carbon reduction is not a synonym of a sustainable business, it’s a mindset that can contribute mitigate climate change. Here we take a closer look of some of the opportunities for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.
Note from Editor: There’s a huge trend of companies practising carbon offsetting, which most often needs to be analyzed. We see (and reject publishing about) many companies that are claiming to be a sustainable business just because they offset their carbon: we call that greenwashing. Here at OurGoodBrands, we believe that making such statements only contributes to further confusion for consumers to know whether a brand is sustainable or not. This article pretends to raise awareness on this matter while offering some potential solutions and opportunities that eventually all businesses should consider if we want to stay on this planet Earth. That being said, we do not wish to promote or support companies that uniquely clean their carbon footprint instead of looking at their entire business model. We support social + eco enterprises, believing they are the solution to create a better world as they are born out of solving social and environmental problems from their core. We are, ourselves, on a mission to change the way we consume, and businesses that only consider cleaning up their mess does not alleviate, by any means, the mess they’ve created in the first place. Therefore, we highly suggest you to read the article keeping this in mind.
Carbon reduction opportunities can be easy to miss. Businesses who pledge to help towards decarbonization efforts will likely do their part, but you can expect to find some chances to contribute more along the way. While not all businesses can have a perfectly green brand strategy, there are many ways to do it better.
Many companies need to help with the fight against climate change. However, better carbon reduction starts at finding out opportunities in your business that you can miss. We dig deeper into some of the eco-friendly ways you can adopt that go beyond the cookie-cutter efforts you may already know.
The usual carbon reduction process often involves buying renewable sources of energy, using electric vehicles, and moving away from fossil fuels. While these are effective ways to cut carbon emissions, they’re also expensive and almost unachievable for small businesses.
If we want to give the environment a chance, we need to seize different potential ways to help delay climate change. Here’s what many businesses can do to benefit from the carbon reduction opportunities.
1. Use More Water Waste Reduction Processes
Strategies that reduce water waste are rarely something that people care about. We take the water that runs through our faucet for granted, but it’s the most vital resource we have on this planet. There are several water-saving opportunities that businesses can easily miss.
For starters, while many offices and urban environments use water-saving flushes and urinals, low-flow faucets and nozzles are easy to miss. Low-flow faucets allow employees to use up to 50% less water. Depending on your type of business, this can be significant enough to reduce wastewater in your locale.
Water reclamation is also another opportunity to save water. Harvesting water sources like rain can help companies have a low-cost, low-consumption option for general purposes. For example, rainwater can be used for toilets, cleaning, and even watering indoor greenery.
Finally, sustainable landscaping can be a powerful way to utilize wastewater from your facilities. Reducing the use of water-hungry lawn grass seems innocuous, but removing it from your landscaping can save you 2.2 liters of water per square foot.
2. Japanese-Style Recycling and Upcycling
Businesses that make an effort to reduce plastics do so through the usual means: recycling. Even then, it’s easy to say that you’re doing your part but recycling goes beyond creating separate bins for every type of trash. Instead, it’s an entire process that entails a little bit more effort from you and your organization.
For starters, a great way to encourage better recycling practices within your business is to follow Japanese style sorting techniques. Rather than categorize things as non-recyclables, recyclables, and organic trash, Japan sorts everything into:
- Combustibles (organic trash, waste paper, leather rubber goods)
- Incombustibles (dirty bottles, glass, bricks, mirrors)
- Empty bottles
- PET bottles
- Empty cans
- Large furniture/equipment
This process of recycling and separating everything into designated garbage bags takes a little extra effort. Regardless, it helps simplify the entire trash collection process. Going the extra mile, like washing bottles, removing trash cans from under the desks, etc., can further improve your recycling efforts.
Where you can, buy recycled products for your company. You encourage and reward the process by purchasing from companies that use recycled products. Putting your money where your mouth is means staying within the recycling ecosystem not only during your waste disposal but during the upcycling process too.
3. Use Renewable Energy with Guarantees of Origin
Most businesses that want to reduce their carbon footprint will utilize renewable energy and hire renewable energy suppliers. However, the truth is that depending on where you are, it’s almost impossible to ensure that your power consumption only comes from renewable sources.
Countries like Australia, Sweden, Germany, and some districts in the US provide renewable energy guarantees of origin (REGO). Australia, for example, has carbon-neutral energy providers in places where electricity is privatized. But, unfortunately, not all countries have this option, save for doing it yourself.
For businesses that have access to carbon-neutral energy providers, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re paying for the right energy source. Therefore, carbon credits, guarantees of origin, and other assurances that you are connected to renewable energy sources are necessary.
Look for renewable energy companies that have ISO 9001:2015 or newer certifications. This will ensure that the company consistently complies with its field’s set product and service standards.
4. Do Carbon Offsetting
One of the simplest ways to push towards carbon reduction for your business is by pushing your company towards carbon-neutral policies. Then again, not all companies can do this, especially those within the manufacturing and electronics industry. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t lend towards the initiative.
Companies that can’t go entirely carbon neutral can improve sustainability through carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting provides charity donations and funding to solutions that reduce carbon emissions in your area. This can even become a more effective way than doing it as a single company.
Carbon offsetting projects entail large-scale movements that help combat global climate change. While this can feel like you’re simply throwing money at the problem, you can perform carbon offsetting with your other decarbonization efforts.
To offset your carbon, it’s vital to calculate your carbon emissions and choose an offset portfolio within your company goals and values. When you perform carbon offsetting, there are a few areas you need to remember.
For starters, carbon footprint offsets need to align with PAS 2060 guidance on carbon neutrality. These include:
- Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)
- Gold Standard VERs, or
- Kyoto compliant offset credits
As with any portfolio, ensure the project offsets are verified against international standards.
5. Sustainable and Carbon Reduction Partnerships
It’s hard to do eco-friendly projects alone, and it’s harder to find companies that have the same vision. It’s easy to forget that you’re not alone in the fight against climate change. For small to medium-sized businesses that cannot fully minimize their carbon footprint, it’s best to work with other partners that go through similar decarbonization efforts.
Look for partners who actively use sustainable methods and practices. Do your best to find partners that can do more significant projects with you that will help your local community improve its carbon situation. For example, look for companies who buy locally via near-sourcing, recycle their waste, use renewable energy, or reduce transport emissions.
Sustainable business relationships can create a bigger impact than any single company could. Over time, a group of companies that share your own ideals can even result in bigger, better sustainability projects. The power of many can outweigh the efforts of the few, and it will clearly show with more sustainability partners.
Every company likely has a carbon reduction opportunity they miss. Whether it’s an optimized waste disposal system, water-saving options, or carbon offsetting, it’s time to look inside. See what else you can improve with your policies. You’ll be surprised by how much more you can do.