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Creating greener futures: Sustainability tips for small businesses

Walk into any large enterprise or multinational business in 2022 and you’ll probably find a whole department devoted to sustainability, working on ways to reduce the impact they have on the environment. It’s a massive and incredibly worthwhile cause, but with limited resources and time, how can small businesses also do their part? To help you take the first steps towards a more sustainable future, we’ve put together some tips and advice:

1.   Calculate your business’ carbon footprint

One of the first steps to making any business greener is to understand what your current carbon footprint looks like. This information will help you see if there are any quick wins your business can capitalise on by analysing your energy use over the last 12 months (resources like electricity and fuel) and giving you a clear picture of how large your carbon footprint actually is. There are some great free tools out there, like this calculator from the Carbon Trust, which not only maps out a business’ carbon footprint, but then also offers a number of additional resources to help build a sustainability plan based on the data provided. Creating a more sustainable small business is much like any other long-term project – understanding the full scope of the work is vital to success.

2.    Choose more sustainable suppliers

Sometimes, being more sustainable as a small business can begin by making a considered choice about who you choose as a supplier. Where possible, ask your suppliers about their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies before beginning a business relationship, or research how they’re working towards a greener future. As a technology and connectivity provider for thousands of small businesses, we’re always keen to showcase our commitment to sustainability, including ambitions to achieve a net zero operation by 2025 – a goal that goes further and faster than any other UK mobile network. It’s not just about our own targets however. Our mobile solutions empower small businesses to embrace hybrid working, which not only allows them to become more flexible in how they work, but also cut back on some of their own carbon generating activities; the daily commute, running a full-time office and travelling to meetings to name but a few. Ultimately, if you’re looking to make your small business more sustainable, choosing the right suppliers can make that goal so much easier to achieve.

3.    Invest in tech that’s better for the environment

Working towards more sustainable business practices is rarely straightforward, particularly when it comes to the tech we all rely on. From the precious metals used in microchips to the plastic compounds used in cases and components, phones, laptops and tablets all come at some cost to the environment. Challenges like this are why companies like Apple are working towards making all their products net zero by 2030. Their environmental reforms span the entire value chain, from switching their factories over to clean energy, doubling the amount of recycled metals they use in their products, right through to reducing single use plastic in their packaging by 75%. Even the devices themselves are in on the act, working intelligently to manage power usage and maximise battery life. For small businesses looking to make the most environmentally friendly investment when it comes to choosing their technology, Apple products are undoubtedly worthy of serious consideration.

4.    Streamline ‘carbon heavy’ working practices

We touched on this point earlier in the article, but some of the biggest changes a small business can make to improve their environmental impact are linked closely with the recent shift towards hybrid or flexible working. An O2 Business study, ‘The Flexible Future of Work’ found that if full time workers commuted one day less a week, it would translate to 1526 fewer miles travelled a year[1]. In carbon emission terms, that would mean an annual average decrease of 7.1 megatonnes[2] – a pretty sizable figure. These savings aren’t just limited to commuting either: Fewer people working full time from the office means energy and electricity usage is reduced, further helping businesses to cut back on their carbon footprint. Even when you are heading into the office, using public transport, or taking advantage of the government backed cycle to work scheme are great ways to keep car usage (and the emissions that go along with them) to a minimum.

We hope you enjoyed our article exploring some of the ways in which small businesses can improve their sustainability. If you’re looking for mobile tech that can transform your business whilst helping build a greener future, visit our online business shop to learn more.

*Please note that O2 does not necessarily recommend or endorse any of the apps, tools, products or sources mentioned in this article and is in no way affiliated with Microsoft.

[1] The Flexible Future of Work, O2 Business, May 2020.

[2] ‘The potential sustainability benefits of flexible working’ ITPro, June 2021.


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