How to Turn Your Business Green by Claire Steele (director at Future Fixers CIC and owner of Lil Creative Studio)

There are lots of things you can do to make your business more sustainable and efficient, so let’s explore how you can make your company greener.

My Green Design Business

I’d wanted to become a green design business for a while but felt that the ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems was too restrictive and costly for a business the size of mine. So when I learned about Green Small Business, I was delighted. Their ethos and flexibility really appealed to me, as did their commitment to helping small businesses minimise environmental impact and reach net zero.

So I forged ahead and, with lots of help and support from Tim Maiden at Green Small Business, I achieved my certification.

 

This is what I learned on my journey to becoming a Green Design Business.

Accountability

To promote yourself as an ethical business you need processes and policies in place that help staff, customers and suppliers understand your values and actively work with you to help you achieve your goals.

Look at the processes that are essential to your business. What can you do to monitor their impact? Think of ways you can demonstrate accountability to your customer base.

Business Travel

Business travel can leave us all a little stumped. The trick is to travel when it’s essential and meet virtually when it’s not. Video conferencing is a great way to combat racking up travel miles (especially in a county as big as Cumbria). If there are cases where only travelling will do, check out public transport options or arrange for your meeting to coincide with something else you have to do in the area.

Energy Efficient Websites

As a green design business you’ll need an energy efficient website. So what does this involve? For starters, source an ethical website host that best fits your values. A host that’s also geographically close will minimise the distance travelled from your site to your consumer.

You can also make your user experience more efficient with good information architecture. Keep unnecessary page loads and video content to a minimum, optimise imagery and use more energy efficient colours like black, red and green. Utilise system fonts instead of linking to online web fonts and delete old information, backend plugins and outdated code.

Making your website 100% green is a Herculean task so start by taking small steps.

Print Design

I have a check list to help me optimise the sustainability of printed literature. I look at using a local printer, and checking they source their energy from a Renewable Energy supplier. Is the paper to be used sustainable? Will it be printed using vegetable based inks? In your own office, you can review your printed materials and assess whether or not aspects could be transferred to a digital format.

Green Office

There are lots of simple ways you can make your office set-up greener. I am currently trying out a selection of different paper types, from unbleached 100% recycled to a pure white FSC. I only print what is essential and I print it in draft format, to use less ink. What about the waste that can’t be recycled or reused? Replace plastic folders with cardboard bags and use refillable fountain pens instead of plastic biros.

Making small changes is a good place to start. Rather than trying to tackle everything at once, make a list of reasonable changes you can make now. Why not start with swapping to recycled paper and move on from there?

Energy Use

Let’s look at reducing energy use. Can you source your energy from a green or socially responsible supplier? Visit Ethical Consumer (UK) to compare the different companies out there. I’ve been powering Lil Creative Studio with 100% renewable energy from Good Energy since we first opened. Do you shut everything down overnight? Do your consumables have energy saving settings, and are they activated? How is the office heated, and can that be optimised?

It couldn’t be easier to reduce energy use; just start by switching off devices before you leave the office for the day. If it helps, leave paper notes in your line of sight to remind you.

Financial

Have you ever thought about where your money goes? Will it have a positive or negative impact on the environment and society? Spend some time researching ethical banks and green investment funds before dipping your toe into the water.

Your Environmental Management System

Head over to Green Small Business and see how they can help you create an Environmental Management System. Tim provides everything from information on how to produce your own EMS to the full implementation service. Their expert knowledge and guidance will put you on the path to becoming a green design business.

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