A handy guide of things to consider when doing an eco audit of your business. From your energy provider and your tea breaks to your holiday allowance and carbon footprint, these are the big and little things to consider when working to be a more environmental and ethical company.
Company Headquarters & Work Spaces
Whether this is a workshop, factory, shared office space or a *fancy* shed, you should look at the place in which you and your team are working as a starting point. Our tops tips would be to look at and consider the following:
How you and your team travel to and from work
Our workshop is based in the beautiful town of Nailsworth, with no nearby train station. Many of our fab team live in Nailsworth which means a quick (but hilly!) walk to work and back again. Some travel from nearby Stroud by car or bus, and a few travel from further afield. Those that travel further afield work from home for over half of their week, to reduce their travel time but also the environmental impact of driving distances to the office and back.
How energy efficient your work space is
This includes the obvious things such as choosing an energy provider that has robust environmental credentials, and ensuring everything is properly powered down at the end of the day. But it also includes things like insulation, having energy efficiency electronics, movement sensored lights, energy saving bulbs, and a naturally warm space for working. Obviously some of these factors might be out of your control, but the ones you can control you should. For example, we use solar panels to offset as much of our energy as possible, and the energy we do use, our provider is environmentally sound. Our workshop is naturally quite chilly but we are all used to wearing many layers. Our computers are all super efficient, our lighting is all on a sensor and we are very thorough when it comes to turning everything off at night!
Products, Waste & Supply Chain
How eco-friendly are the supplies that you buy
Small changes can add up to make a big difference, and looking at your stationary, supplies and kitchen cupboard can definitely help. Our Plastic Free Office post outlines many of the ways in which employees can make changes for the better, such as stapleless staples, plastic-free pens and loose leaf tea. Buying environmentally friendly cleaning products and bathroom supplies such as toilet paper and sanitary products will also make a big difference, we’ve listed some of our favourite eco-cleaning tips here.
Do a waste audit
Anything from cardboard boxes, inner packaging and unused paper invoices can be added up to include unnecessary waste. Look at everything which comes into and leaves your work space, how can you make sure your bin bags and recycling bags are lighter and more things are either put to good use, or not there in the first place. Look at production lines if it’s relevant, staff break out areas, and office bins to get a full picture and then do what you can to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Look at your supply chain
Your environmental responsibility doesn’t stop at your office front door. We are just as responsible for the ways in which the materials we supply are made, and how far they’ve travelled. Look at cost, distance travelled, environmental credentials, treatment of staff, suppliers, makers and the environment, and that material (or product)’s suitability. We often have to compromise and find a balance between these things, and that’s up to you to decide what you want to compromise. For example, our fabric is made in India and shipped to our workshop, which is a long journey (though better by sea than air). But, the manufacturers we use recycle and reuse the water needed to make cotton, they are an independent female run business owned by Mother and Daughter, and they are fairtrade which means all the workers (including the cotton growers and cotton pickers) are paid well and treated fairly. For us, that’s compromise.
Staff and Treatment
How do you support your staff and your team?
If you’re looking to become B Corp accredited, or similar, the way in which you look after your staff will also be considered. We are proudly living wage employers, we offer two extra paid days a year for volunteering, and we are big on flexible working hours. This all helps to contribute to staff and company wellbeing, and enables us to build a team of like minded people who will help us achieve our environmental goals.
Of course, this is just the starting point for your business but a really good one! If you have any other tips and tricks, or would like to chat, get in touch.
Bigger things to consider to move to a more eco friendly business:
Energy, eco suppliers, offset and balance, solar panels
Supply chain; treatment and wage of workers, airmiles travel, materials and chemicals used
Packaging and waste and processes
Staff- wage, holiday, flexibility, travel, support, development
Balancing profit with planet; eco credentials to help guide and balance