Earth Day is an annual event that began on April 22, 1970, to bring attention to environmental protection. It has gained so much traction over the last 50 years, that there are over one billion people who observe this day each year. Yet we still find ourselves in a continued battle against climate change and global warming.
With a recent United Nations report indicating that we’re approaching a point of no return in climate change if we don’t make changes imminently, this might leave you wondering what you can do as a business to reduce your carbon footprint.
Here are some easy ways businesses can be more environmentally-conscious, plus some educational resources for further reading.
Cut down on paper usage
Office workers in the U.S. use an average of 4 million tons of paper per year (about 12.1 trillion sheets). This is an enormous amount that when compounded year over year, has huge implications for the environment: Pulp and paper is the third-largest air, water and land polluter among all industries, and paper production is the third most energy-intensive of all manufacturing industries.
As the pandemic pushed many businesses to operate digitally, they have naturally begun to use less paper. That said, in traditionally paper-heavy industries like legal and financial services, bringing paper-based transactions online (for example, digitizing documents and using eSignature and online notarization) can help reduce the impact those types of businesses have on the environment.
Create a green task force
If changing the current trajectory of climate change isn’t enough of an incentive, today’s employees are taking sustainability into account when choosing the company they want to work for. And they’re not alone. Consumers are also taking environmental responsibility into account. A recent survey shows that 2 out of 3 consumers rated sustainability as an important purchase criterion.
But we’re past the days where companies can create a false illusion of sustainability via marketing and PR (also known as greenwashing). Employees and consumers want to actually see concrete and robust environmental policies and efforts that are enforced from the top down. To ensure that environmentally-focused decisions are being made and goals are set, businesses should create a task force of employees who can own the various opportunities to make a company more sustainable.
Encourage remote working
Depending on your business, you might be currently facing the questions: Should we return to the office full-time? Should we embrace a hybrid model? Should we continue working remotely?
Businesses that encourage employees to work remotely, may ultimately have a positive impact on the environment. A recent study shows that by working from home, personal emissions can be reduced by 80% in some cases. Additionally, reducing (or eliminating) corporate travel, especially via airplane, can help reduce a business’s carbon footprint.
It is worth noting that energy usage will change with a remote workforce. There may be an increase in energy consumption in individual homes as people need to heat and cool their house and use electricity to power their computers. This can be mitigated on an individual level, by improving the energy efficiency of a home. Here are some ways to get started.
Earth Day and climate change resources for further reading