One thing to celebrate is the pandemic’s watershed moment for sustainability: according to the Harvard Business Review, businesses globally invested at an unprecedented rate (think trillions!) into sustainable practices in 2021 to work towards a net-zero economy. This was further solidified at COP26 in November with the formation of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, representing $130 trillion US dollars, or 40 percent of the world’s assets pledging to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Consumers and investors alike have new and greener expectations for business operations going into 2022, bringing new opportunities for positive change and progress towards our global goals.
With that in mind, here are 5 green goals every business owner should make to start the new year off on the right foot that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound!
- Get organized, and organize others. Not sure how “green” that sounds? Sustainability encompasses more than the environment – it also includes your management style. In addition to keeping your desk tidy and filing or removing everything that is not of immediate importance, it is key to declutter your digital world. Next, you might have heard this term before (or even have one already!), but it’s time to form a green team. Whether this is just yourself, or a committee representing each department at your office, this team should meet or set time aside monthly with the clear purpose of helping your business to become more sustainable. Need a bit more info? Check out “How to Establish a Green Team”.
- Calculate that carbon footprint. We recognize that sustainability can seem like an overwhelming concept, especially with different resources and information everywhere. To keep it simple and impactful, measuring your carbon footprint is a great place to start. From here, you can begin to track and measure your progress, which is key to see how far you’ve come and what goals you’ve met at the end of the year. This can take some time as you collect all the necessary information, but by the end you will have your cake AND get to eat it. Got the data? Check. Carbon footprint? Check. Ability to measure and compare for the future? Check! Learn more about how and why to measure the carbon footprint of your hotel or tourism business here.
- Reduce your long-run costs. Unfortunately, we are no longer in the era of cheap and seemingly limitless energy and resources. To reduce your long-run costs, it’s time to make some changes to reflect rapidly lowering technology costs and increasing restrictions on emissions, such as the federal government’s carbon tax, which will reach $170 per tonne of C02e by 2030. Tourism business owners often find it hard to act in the start, because it involves spending a little bit more money now to save money in that very far, intangible, unrelated future. But trust us: by making the changes sooner rather than later, your operational expenses will be reduced and so will your risk. Some low-hanging fruit includes switching fixtures to LED lighting and installing tap aerators (you can find these for less than $10, and they can save up to 8 litres of water a minute), programmable thermostats, occupancy sensors, and power bars for managing your electrical load.
- Improve your waste diversion. Recycle, recycle recycle…. and compost? This is one of those things that everyone could be doing better to reduce and divert waste at work and reap those feel-good rewards. The first step of this, of course, is to look at what you throw away. We recommend engaging your staff in a fun and interactive waste audit, to get everyone involved in identifying what’s in the trash and what can be diverted. Next, make an infographic or sign explaining what to recycle or not, and if you have a compost bin, what to put in there. That removes all excuses of uncertainty, and will also make it more accessible for everyone, no matter their sustainability knowledge. Click here to better understand the benefits of reducing waste at work and for a free guide on how to conduct your own waste audit.
- Review your core company values and share your story. Was sustainability important to you last year? Was this reflected in your values, onboarding processes, and code of conduct or mission statement? If not, it is time to make those changes and then engage your team in a fun and collaborative way so that everyone is clear on what the company is focused on achieving in the new year. Awareness of the goals you are trying to accomplish is key, and moreover, in this digital age, news travels fast. A transparent and humble business is a trustworthy business, so help yourself grow by sharing what you’ve already accomplished in the first four steps.
With these new improvements under your belt and shared to the world, you will be unstoppable this year!
This article originally appeared on the GreenStep Sustainable Tourism blog.
Through their Sustainable Tourism division, GreenStep works with tourism businesses and destinations to help them measure, improve and certify their sustainability performance.