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What is sustainability in business? 10 tips for making your business sustainable in 2024

Published date: January 2024

Work colleagues using their Fairphone 5
Sustainable business practices are certainly on the rise, though as we enter 2024, it's still very common for businesses to be just starting their shift in culture and daily practices. Sustainability in business is the practice of assessing your business's environmental and carbon (CO2e) footprint as a result of your business activities and then finding solutions to reduce these impacts and emissions.

Business sustainability is usually measured and reviewed in annual cycles against specific ESG (Environmental, Social and Governmental) measurements.

Why is sustainability important in business?

Sustainability can shape the short and long-term future of any business as it can directly impact:
  • Brand reputation
  • Customer appeal
  • Market share of products
  • Employee support and retention
  • Investment appeal
A business that understands the importance of sustainability in its products, practices and culture is creating a model for long-term success and stability. Sustainable business models shouldn't be seen as a hindrance or a disruptive but an opportunity to innovate and grow whilst addressing climate change and environmental issues our activities contribute to.

Top 10 tips for becoming a sustainable business in 2024

To support your business in making light work of sustainable swaps that make a difference to your CSR, Your Co-op Business Solutions is here to provide you with 10 top tips to become more sustainable.

1. Embrace remote working and virtual connection

In recent years, remote working has certainly risen to prominence with countless businesses across the UK making it a permanent feature for their colleagues. Remote/hybrid working arrangements take vehicles off the road and cut carbon emissions every week whilst providing a greater work-life balance for colleagues, an excellent offer for retaining your best talent.

Additionally, there will also be a smaller energy demand in your office/workspaces, reducing business costs and emissions. Switch your business to a better way of working that saves time, resources and emissions without sacrifice.

2. Promote EV schemes 

Switching to an Electric Vehicles Salary Sacrifice would not only save your colleagues money but reduce each colleague's carbon footprint by 1.5 tonnes per year. Colleagues signing up for an EV of their choice can take advantage of national insurance and income tax savings of up to 40%. The scheme can also save your business money on national insurance and reduce CO2 emissions to help hit sustainability targets. Not to mention it's an excellent benefit that helps to retain talent.

Alternatively, you could also start-up a Cycle-to-work scheme which also cuts carbon emissions, commuter costs and promotes healthier lifestyles to employees. A business can save up to £138 on every employee that signs up for the scheme and employees can save up to £420 on the cost of a brand-new bike and accessories.

3. Use environmentally friendly stationery and office supplies

By switching to biodegradable office products such as stationary, containers, packaging, paper and eco-friendly furniture, you can help hit your sustainability targets. In 2024, there is a wide range of options available in the market to suit every budget.

4. Water conservation scheme

Businesses that install water-saving devices in kitchens and toilets can save on utility costs and conserve water. Water management is a practice that's often overlooked when assessing sustainable business practices, though when coupled with water-conscious habits amongst colleagues, can make a real difference to your sustainability.

5. Flexible working hours 

Adopting flexible working hours involves commuting at low congestion times which can contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions and increase energy/fuel consumption. Colleagues who can start work from home and stagger their working hours have shorter and less stressful commutes, having avoided peak hours of congestion on the roads and public transportation. Flexible working hours also provide a better work-life balance for colleagues and help your business to retain talent.

6. Smart energy meters 

A smart meter allows your business to take control of its energy by having a live reading of consumption volumes, efficiency and daily costs. With this knowledge, you can make better decisions about optimising your utilities to achieve better value for money and fewer carbon emissions if you aren't renewably powered.

7. Waste reduction & management schemes

Focusing on reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency are key principles of a circular economy that can boost your CSR. Encouraging a responsible consumption pattern within your business and repurposing and reusing of equipment, furniture, and even technology can save your business money and carbon emissions.

Try the easy-to-deploy Fairphone 4 or 5, the world's most sustainable smartphones are completely modular (repairable), so they're easy and affordable to repair and both have an industry-leading warranty of 5 years. Find out more about the powerfully performing Fairphone for business

8. Green roof installations

Vegetation on the roof and outer walls of your business space can provide insulation (lowering your heating needs and costs), reduce the urban heat island effect, and improve air quality. The vegetation can absorb rainwater to reduce surface runoff from heavy downpours, easing the pressure on your drainage system and it's an aesthetically pleasing addition to your business.

9. Sustainability team competition

Involve your colleagues in sustainability by setting challenges and competitions to drive innovations in making your business more sustainable. You can track the progress of any teams taking part and reward colleagues who are going the extra mile to contribute to hitting sustainability targets.

10. Assess your supplier's goods

The goods you use from suppliers can have a significant environmental footprint and bring down your business's sustainability credentials. So when assessing what you bring into your business, consider:
  • Is it possible to change to a supplier with stronger sustainability credentials?
  • Could you use a more local supplier to reduce carbon emissions in transporting goods or supplies?
  • Challenge your existing suppliers on their sustainability, can they change their practices? Can you agree on a roadmap to a more sustainable supply chain within an agreed time frame?

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