Good for the environment, good for your brand

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Businesses of all shapes and sizes can embrace eco-friendly ways of working

The eco-friendliness of a business has taken an increasingly important role for young people in recent years, with many job seekers actively avoiding companies who don't take sustainability into consideration. So it's no surprise that companies are becoming more environmentally conscious in every angle of their business. Whether it's Lego severing its fifty-year-old ties with Shell, or the ten major oil companies collectively promising to combat global warming, there seems to be no business too big to make steps to limit their environmental impact.

The art of recycling

One of the major developments in the recent drive for businesses to go green is finding ways to encourage recycling as much as possible. From MAC Cosmetics offering free makeup to people who return their empty containers to Japanese restaurant chain Feng Sushi offering biodegradable takeaway packaging and sustainably-made chopsticks, the possibilities are endless.

Even products you would think would struggle to be reused have found novel ways to be more environmentally conscious. Exhibition stands, used everywhere from festival food stalls to promotional events, are taking cues from Ikea and going modular, in an effort to promote long-term reusability. Some printing companies have begun exclusively using recycled or sustainable paper sources, as well as vegetable oil based ink, which comes from renewable resources and has a lower emissions rate compared with normal ink.

How small businesses can make a big difference

A recent Virgin blog pointed out that independent companies may have to make some major purchases to realise their green ambitions. It reported that the Space Station storage company in Chiswick spent over £500,000 on solar panels, wind turbines and LED lighting for their eight stores.

However, businesses which don't have that kind of cash to throw around are still doing their part effectively; the recent trend in recycling or upcycling old products has become an industry of its own recently, and the removal industry is moving quick to capitalise on it. The London-based Clearance Solutions have taken landfill sites out of the equation. Through their large-scale office clearances, they ensure that old IT equipment and office furniture is donated or sold. This reduces customer costs as well as their carbon footprint.

Eco-friendly hospitality

Even the hospitality industry, which produces nearly 3.5 million tonnes of waste every year, is getting in on the act. From bespoke eco-friendly holiday cabins to rural restaurants making a point of using rainwater harvesting and a biomass boiler, sustainability is becoming an important selling point to customers.

The Sustainable Restaurant Awards, chaired by Raymond Blanc, were introduced in 2011 and recognises eateries which prioritise locally-sourced ingredients. Last year's joint winners, the Daylesford chain and The Captain's Galley in Caithness - which only serves in-season seafood - were commended for demonstrating the "democratisation of sustainable dining."

Whatever business you're in, there will always be a way to make it eco-friendly. The key trick is to identify it now - be ahead of the curve, and do something green. After all, it's not just your company's future you'll be improving.

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