With a recession on the horizon, you probably shouldn’t worry about your carbon footprint. Right?
Yeah, “the house is on fire,” and all that. But with a roof to keep over your head, a family to feed, and a business to run, you’ve got other priorities in mind. That’s exactly why you need to worry about your footprint.
Any business that takes the time to measure their carbon footprint and reduce it is in for some serious benefits in the short- and long-term.
Even with these benefits in mind, we shouldn’t forget the other reasons to act.
The Climate Crisis is Happening Here and Now
Human-caused climate change is underway. Thousand-plus page reports aside, I’m sure if nothing else, you’ve noticed the weird weather, the shifting seasons, and the high pollen counts. You’ve probably been affected in other ways too.
One study published in Nature shows that 85% of people have already been affected by climate change. Whether wildfires, flooding, or extreme storms, climate change affects everyone around the globe. Not only is it bad for people, it’s bad for profits – disrupting the systems your business relies on.
When floods wash out highways, tornadoes demolish fulfillment centers, and storms capsize cargo ships, it affects your business.
Climate action is essential to give your business the best chance to survive and thrive.
You’re probably thinking, “what could I possibly do?”
A lot actually.
Businesses have an important role to play
Every action in our economy creates emissions that contribute to climate change. That means everyone needs to play their part to reduce emissions and limit their environmental impact.
To mitigate the worst consequences of the climate crisis, the entire economy needs to reach net zero by 2050, and we need to cut emissions in half before 2030. That’s only a few years away.
Businesses like yours have a big role to play in helping us get there in time.
The first step to net zero is understanding where we’re at, so we can set targets and manage emissions effectively, which means your business and others need to understand where your emissions come from and how you can reduce them.
This will help you provide consumers with the low-carbon alternatives we need, set an example for other businesses, and set the stage for all the benefits you’ll receive as you travel the path to net zero.
Calculating Your Carbon Footprint is Your First Step
Before those benefits roll in, you need to determine the size of your business’s carbon footprint. We’ll cover how exactly you calculate your carbon footprint in our next article.
For now, here's a brief overview.
Before we get into it, I want to assure you that while reducing your company’s carbon footprint can seem overwhelming, once you get started, you’ll find easy wins that help you gain momentum to tackle even bigger challenges.
Your first step?
Gather data on everything from the energy you consume, the waste you generate, who your main business partners are, where they’re located, and similar information.
Seems like a lot. Doesn’t it?
Lucky for you, you already have most of this information scattered around, recorded in your utility invoices, in your accounting books, and other documents you already have on file. You just need to get it all in one place.
Once it’s all collected, you’ll feed the data into a model to calculate your carbon footprint.
With your carbon footprint calculated, you’ll see where all your emissions are coming from and have the chance to scope out an emission reduction plan in line with the Science-Based Targets Initiative and the 2016 IPCC Paris Agreement.
You’ll see the areas for the quick, easy wins you can take immediately to reduce your footprint as you find ways to address the other emissions that aren’t easily eliminated.
Once you’ve got that strategy in place and begin to lower emissions and increase sustainability, you’ll be ready to receive all the benefits of reducing your business’s footprint.
7 Benefits of Reducing Your Business Carbon Footprint
1. Stand out from the competition
Right from the start, if you have an actionable strategy to eliminate emissions, you’ll separate yourself the competition. You’ll make a clear statement to the market and attract customers by demonstrating how you reduce the impact of your products and operations on the planet.
76% of consumers across all generations want the brands they buy from to be sustainable. So, by reducing emissions, you’ll align yourself with market trends and separate yourself from the competition.
Most businesses have been slow to adapt and adopt sustainable practices, so you can still get a first mover advantage if you calculate, reduce, and eliminate your emissions today.
2. Attract and engage customers
Tired of telling the same old story? Your customers probably are too.
Good news for you: The practices you adopt to reduce emissions will give you new stories to share throughout your marketing, and they’ll play particularly well on social media if you package them right.
This will attract new prospects and reengage old customers in your brand story. And it will help you build a community of customers invested in the mission of your business and the impact you produce. What could be better?
Consumers are hungry for sustainable alternatives. If you can meet that need, you’ll build a formidable business.
3. Improved profit margins
Benefits to both sides of the profit equation will help you build that formidable business. Most businesses realize a simple truth as they go green: when you lower carbon, you lower costs.
As you slash emissions, you’ll reduce overhead expenses because you’ll improve the efficiency of your operations. But sustainability has profit benefits that swing the other way as well.
Most consumers are willing to pay up to a 10% premium for products proven to be sustainable, and the percentage of consumers willing to pay that premium is growing every day.
So, as you invest in reducing the impact of your business and pursue a certification or two to prove the positive impact of your product, you’ll have the chance to boost revenues by raising profits and attracting new customers.
4. Improved brand awareness and perception
Most of the time, you’re guaranteed to scare off customers if you raise your prices. But sustainability efforts improve the public’s perception of your product. This makes them more willing to trust you and buy from your business regardless the cost – within reason, of course.
Beyond improved perception, your work will give your employees and customers the chance to participate in your story – a story they’ll naturally want to share and spread.
People love to be associated with work that makes a positive impact, and they love to talk about the brands and products making their lives better.
This organic story-sharing and word-of-mouth marketing stories will help you reach people you never would have had access to otherwise.
5. Employee Satisfaction, Commitment, and Productivity
Millennials and Gen Z dominate today’s workforce, and the younger they are, the more they expect their employer to prioritize sustainability and take action to reduce their footprint.
If you want engaged, committed, productive employees, you need to reduce your footprint and demonstrate you share the values of your younger employees.
A great way to do this and involve your employees in the process of reducing your footprint is by encouraging employees to create a “Green Team” with a portion of the budget set aside to support employee-led programming that improves company-wide sustainability and employee satisfaction.
6. Attract new investment
Employees and consumers aren’t the only ones searching for products with a positive impact, investors are too.
If you plan on seeking investment to support your business’s growth, understanding your carbon footprint and your plans to reduce it will be essential to securing investment from forward thinking firms.
7. Get ahead of upcoming policy changes
Major policy changes are on the horizon, and you need to make sure your business is ready.
Europe has already mandated emissions reporting for many different businesses, and it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. follows suit. The SEC in US has proposed a rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose carbon emissions.
Your small business might seem to be exempt, but a closer look shows that might not be the case. If large corporations have to disclose their emissions and their reduction plans, then you’ll need to do the same if you want to work with them.
When you partner with a big business, your emissions become a part of theirs, so if you want to play in the big leagues, you’ll have to have your carbon footprint and carbon reduction plans in order.
Don’t know where to start?
I’m sure your business could use all these great benefits, whatever stage you’re in. After all, who wouldn’t want more customers, more profits, more awareness, more investments, and more engaged employees?
Of course, you might not have any idea where to start. Just thinking about it might give you a headache if you’ve never considered the carbon your business emits before.
If that sounds like you, you might think about getting professional help. And I don’t mean a therapist – though that could help, for different reasons.
You have a couple options depending on your business’s size and budget. You can hire a full-time sustainability manager to get everything in order and be with you every step of every stage of your emissions reduction plan. They’ll need special software and, depending on the size and complexity of your operations, maybe even some support staff to make it all happen.
Hiring a sustainability manager is a great option for larger organizations with plenty of room in the budget. But if you’re a small business operating on tight margins, this might not be feasible.
If that’s you, you might consider hiring a carbon footprint consultant. A carbon footprint consultant will work with you to develop a customer strategy that fits your budget. They can calculate your footprint and develop a plan to help you reduce it.
A consultant may not support your day-to-day reduction efforts, but they’ll be able to give you a clear roadmap and most everything you need to start your sustainability journey, so you can gain the benefits of lowering carbon emissions.
If you want to talk to a carbon footprint consultant about how you can calculate and reduce your footprint, schedule an appointment with W2R Solutions below.
If you just need more information about how to measure and reduce your carbon footprint, subscribe to our newsletter and get our upcoming articles on those exact topics delivered right to your inbox.