Big feet make for big footprints - how carbon intensive is your business?How carbon intensive is your business?

How big are your feet? Or rather, how big is your footprint when it comes to the environment? We all try and do our bit to improve how much waste we create; what we can recycle; whether we can walk/cycle versus jumping in the car; but, our lifestyles are still carbon intensive.

According to the WWF’s footprint calculator if everyone in the world lived like me, we would need 2.41 planets to provide the necessary amount of land and ocean area to sustain our consumption patterns and absorb the waste we all create on an annual basis. I like to think I do my bit for the environment but it’s a sobering thought.

In my last corporate social responsibility (CSR) post, I focused on some simple steps to help develop the community side of your CSR programme. But what, as a small to medium sized enterprise (SME), could your business be doing to minimise its impact on the environment?

Your three Rs

Refreshing your three Rs isn’t a bad place to start. Take a look at what you can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Here are some quick wins:

  • travel less to meetings – use Skype or other video conferencing technologies wherever possible (less time travelling also makes for more time making money in the office)
  • switch off everything when you go home and use energy saving light bulbs
  • double sided printing saves paper
  • turn the thermostat down in your office
  • return toner cartridges for recycling and, for draft copies of documents, print using draft quality (your toner will last a lot longer)
  • most electrical items, batteries, light bulbs etc should not go in your general waste collection – see your local council’s website for advice on how to dispose of these items safely.
  • Of course, not only can you reduce your business’s carbon footprint, following tips like these could also save your business money. If you have employees, the Carbon Trust reckons you could save up to £6K a year through employee engagement in cutting down on energy use.
  • Try the Carbon Trust’s savings calculator to work out how much your business could save.


Doing our bit
At Hiscox, we have signed up to the insurance industry’s ClimateWise initiative, a global insurance initiative that not only obliges us to reduce the environmental impact of our business, but also promote areas like climate awareness and lead research into the impact climate change will have on our world. As a business, Hiscox UK has been carbon neutral for the last three years.

Of course there is more we can all do but collectively, the smallest actions can make the biggest of differences.