Businesses en route to Net Zero
Our penultimate event of Great Big Green Week was the seminar, ‘Green Tactics for Henley Businesses’. The aim of this event was to bring together local business leaders seeking inspiration and advice on concrete action they can take to bring their carbon footprint down and increase the sustainability of their business. A diverse group of local businesses provided first hand insights into the highs and lows of working towards Net Zero and treading more lightly on the planet.
Why should businesses lead the way?
Businesses are hugely influential in what – and how – consumers purchase, which makes them a very powerful force in moving us all towards Net Zero quickly. Not only that, but consumers are increasingly wanting to purchase from businesses that are sustainable, and this trend will only go upwards, so that is a good incentive to move forward with this!
What does it mean to be sustainable?
At first glance it might seem that selling eco-friendly products or turning off the lights is what this is all about, but it runs much deeper than that. A truly sustainable business is one that is considering sustainability in EVERY strand of its operations. Certainly something that we can, and indeed must, all work on is cutting carbon – lets stand back and reconsider the journey that all elements contributing to a product or service make – where can we reduce energy use in that chain?
Sourcing goods and services more locally can help to bring our overall energy use down, as can switching to 100% renewable energy. What about transport? Encourage staff to use active travel to get to and from work, consider EV charging points, or lease EV’s or bikes for staff. How about offering food with a lower carbon footprint at work lunches, or encouraging employees to have a meat free day or two a week? These things can have a big impact and can often have a ripple effect by driving behaviour change beyond the work environment. We can stop using single use plastics in the office, or at events – often this is something that is actually quite easy to change with a little thought and discipline, and along with this, monitor and reduce how much we send to landfill. Reconsider investments to ensure they are ethical – is your money invested in something you agree with? Have you thought about purchasing furniture secondhand, encouraging the circular economy rather than buying new? How about a team building tree planting day out (but make sure you take advice on getting the right trees in the right place!)
Whatever new actions you decide to take on for your business, make sure you talk about it – to your customers and staff, to friends and family, but crucially – to other businesses. The reach you have to influence behaviour change is HUGE. Share what you have done, often and widely, and importantly, support each other, because when we come together there is SO much we can do.
You can read more about what happened at our ‘Green Tactics’ seminar in the Henley Herald’s article.
If you would like to contact our Business Group to discuss any of the issues raised here do get in touch.
We are very grateful to Henley Town Council, Oxfordshire County Council, the Tony Lane Foundation, Thamesfield Youth Association, Mercers Solicitors, Henley Royal Regatta, and Hobbs of Henley for their generous support of this year’s Great Big Green Week. We could not have achieved what we have in this week without you!