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How to be environmentally sustainable

It pays to run an environmentally sustainable business. Environmentally conscious businesses are often more efficient and have lower operational costs than those who aren’t. They also tend to achieve a better bottom-line — all while protecting New Zealand’s natural environment for future generations.

Find practical ways to become eco-friendly and energy efficient — and how it can work to your advantage.

Benefits of being environmentally sustainable

The advantages of being an eco-friendly business include:

  • Better returns — companies on the Dow Jones’s Sustainability Group Index consistently outperform those on its traditional index.
  • Avoiding risks — environmental faux pas damage your reputation and create distrust among your customers, investors and the larger public.
  • Marketing advantages — environmentally sustainable practices, products and services are often a unique selling point .
  • Attracting more customers — studies show a number of people prefer to deal with businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible .
  • Reducing costs — an energy efficient office spends about 20% less on their energy bills.
Cutting down your energy consumption is one of the easiest ways to save money and reduce your environmental impact.

Cutting down your energy consumption is one of the easiest ways to save money and reduce your environmental impact.

Ways to become more sustainable

There are many easy ways your business can become more sustainable, eg turning off lights, making recycling easy and printing less.

Here are some ways to improve your footprint that you might not have considered:

  • Provide Fair Trade or organic tea and coffee products.
  • Adjust your thermostats — dialing your air conditioning up 2°C in summer or heating down 2°C in winter can save hundreds of kilograms of CO2 emissions.
  • Consider alternative fuel systems for fleet vehicles such as bio-diesel, CNG, LPG, or electric or hybrid vehicles.
  • Write environmental criteria into tendering documents, contracts, policies and procurement guidelines. Include sustainability of products over their lifetime and end-of-life disposal clauses.
  • Think about your supply chain and opportunities to use eco-friendly materials and methods. The Sustainable Business Commission outlines six steps to develop a sustainable supply chain.
  • Buy energy-efficient office equipment.
  • Explore where your business can convert to renewable energy sources, eg using geothermal heat pumps.

Environmental labels and certifications

If your business actively engages environmentally friendly practices, consider applying to get certified or for an ecolabel seal.

Certified companies and businesses with products marked with an ecolabel:

  • find greater access to new markets
  • emphasise product differentiation
  • specify a minimum standard to their suppliers and partners
  • promote their values to the public.

Environmental certifications

Enviro-Mark Solutions, a subsidiary of the crown research institute Landcare Research, provides three types of environmental programmes and certifications.

  1. Carbon programmes and certification — for businesses committed to reducing their greenhouse gas footprint.
  2. Environmental management programme and certification — for businesses with a planned approach to reducing their environmental impact.
  3. Energy programme and certification — for businesses systematically working to become more energy efficient.

Enviro-Mark Solutions (external link)

Ecolabels

If you produce a sustainable product or service, consider applying for an ecolabel — a sign or seal used to indicate that a product has met certain environmental or social standards.

Environmental Choice (external link) is New Zealand’s official ecolabel.

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