Knowing ‘how’ to start when making your business greener and more sustainable

by | 14 Feb 2022

“But how do you start when trying to be greener and more sustainable?”

The question of knowing ‘how’ to start when trying to reduce and improve our environmental impact on our planet is often one of the first hurdles we all face, and it is a question that I hear repeated time and again from so many.

When trying to answer this question by ourselves, we often unconsciously pick one of two go to main approaches, the ‘quick win, fast approach’ or the ‘slow, try to learn everything approach’, with both of them often not working too well.

If we take a look at the ‘quick win, fast approach’, the first step we tend to take is the good old do it yourself and ‘Google it’, where we try to research how we should do every single thing we think might be relevant about being greener, using a single search engine, in one single session, then try to apply it.

This approach often results in us being faced with a lot of information, in many cases irrelevant or conflicting, that in order to try and make sense of we ‘pick and mix’ the ones we may have heard about and try to crowbar it in to applying to our lives, often spending unnecessary money trying to make changes which don’t really work or aren’t sustainable. Then we tell ourselves we’ve failed and give up.

If we now take a look at the ‘slow, try to learn everything but do nothing approach’, the first step here tends to be spending a lot of time drowning ourselves in so much information that we will never be able to digest it all, in the name of ‘research’. This can range from reading every ‘green’ book, to committing to watching every single ‘green’ film or documentary ever made, to joining every green or environmental group we can, to reading every single ‘green’ article ever written.

We tell ourselves we shouldn’t make any green changes until we’ve read and understood everything there is to know about being greener to then know ‘how’ to do it properly, and we end up making no changes at all as we never get through the huge volume of our own ‘research’. Then we tell ourselves we’ve failed and give up.

Both of these approaches end with us feeling that we’ve failed, and that becoming greener is too big, too much and too hard, even for the most enthusiastic among us.

I’ve spoken to a number of businesses who all wanted to reduce their overall environmental impact but became stuck on the ‘how’. Some had more of an idea of the changes they wanted to make, others hadn’t thought that far ahead, but inevitably they tried one of the above two approaches and didn’t really make any changes at all.

The ‘how’ became too big as they hadn’t undertaken an assessment of their current state, looked at producing an action plan for the improvements, agreed the accountability, or implemented success measurement within the business.

Knowing how to start is therefore key, and the first step a business can take to move through the overwhelm of ‘how’ and ‘where’ to start is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and then carefully map and plan realistic and achievable ‘green’ targets and goals.

A ‘green audit’ is the first step a business should take to provide a clear view of where it sits currently in terms of its environmental impact, and highlights the areas which may require work. Target planning based on these audit findings will help a business define where they need to get to, and the corresponding mapping and accountability setting leads to the action planning and the confirmation of this ‘how’.

‘How’ a business moves from the action planning stage to the implementation stage to becoming ‘greener’ depends on a variety of factors within each business, but taking the time to conduct a ‘green audit’ at the outset provides a business with a solid starting point and helps to prevent the ‘how’ overwhelm often experienced.

By working with each business to understand their strategy and model, conducting a green audit, and applying the correct processes, systems and techniques, Achieving Greenness helps them to implement sustainable and achievable action plans, reducing and improving their environmental impact in both the short and long term.

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