In October 2018, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced that humans have 12 years to head off the dire effects of climate change. Scientists and researchers have pointed to how incremental changes in the rising temperature will have devastating effects across the world. This means we will see an increase in droughts and heat waves, unpredictable weather patterns, and sea levels rising - and in many parts of the globe, we are already seeing ongoing effects of global warming.
While climate change may seem like a distant issue to some, many small businesses have addressed how climate change will threaten small businesses and entrepreneurs from thriving. Small businesses that suffer from an environmental disaster are less likely to recover, and the impacts of climate change will affect various sectors of the economy from agriculture to commerce.
Despite this bleak news, small businesses have already begun to change the culture of how businesses can take on accountability for climate change. Also, just because a business is small doesn’t mean small businesses make small impact. Small businesses generate 44% of the U.S. economic activity, and small businesses often have relationships with other local businesses and community organizations that big companies don’t have.
Here are some concrete steps small businesses have implemented in the workplace to alleviate the burdens we’ve put on our planet - consider one or two of these for your business!
1. Save Energy (and your $$$!)
Did you know LED lights use 75% less energy than incandescent and fluorescent lights? LED lights convert energy into light more efficiently, and LED lights last six times longer than other lights! Simply switching out your light bulbs will not only produce less unnecessary heat - you will also save some money on your power bill!
2. Reduce Travel
Many small businesses do not require their employees to be present at an office; so encourage your employees to work from home, or work at a coffee shop close to their home. Encourage your employees to have conference calls over the phone or computer to avoid long drives or unneeded flights. If possible, provide incentives for your employees to carpool.
3. Provide Filtered Water
Notice how many employees have drinks on their desks, and hydration is important! Rather than having employees purchase plastic water bottles which are very harmful for the environment as they take a long time to decompose in a landfill. Provide filtered water and reusable drinkware for your small business.
4. Set up Recycling Bins
Recycling practices are another daily habit to instill in your workplace and also at your home. Many small businesses use paper, and recycling paper along with recycling plastic, metal, glass, and cardboard are all recyclable materials that don’t need to end up in a landfill. Put up signs near recycling stations to teach your employees what can or cannot be recycled.
While this may seem like a daunting task, composting your food waste is a great solution to eliminating food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Composting is incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons - compost enriches soil, and compost also conserves water in the soil so you won’t have to water your soil as much. Set up a compost at your work and instill this as a habit for your employees - you can do this by having a meeting and discussing what can and cannot be composted, and explain why this is important for the business to participate in.
6. Establish an Environmentally Conscious Work Culture
Educating employees on the impacts every person makes on the environment is very important and these are simple steps we can take to reduce our ecological footprints. Our role as a small business can establish a culture of environmentally aware and friendly practices that can eventually trickle into other places like our homes and our community groups. Small businesses have a special connection to local, and larger economies, and these small changes in shifting how we think about, and act on, climate change.
Small businesses that enact changes addressing climate change show their clients and consumers that their business is forward-thinking and cares about the well-being of their employees and their clients.