Best Green Businesses (And How to Follow Their Lead)

‘Going green’ is big news, and even the biggest businesses and brands know that being seen to be green is great PR for their business.

Greener companies convey a more caring image, and will give themselves an extra edge over the competition in these tough times in business. Implementing environmentally friendly initiatives can attract new customers and retain existing customers, who appreciate a company’s green credentials.

Take a leaf out of the book of some of the biggest names in business, and see how you can give you business a ‘green over’. Simple measures such as reducing your energy consumption can make a big difference, so why not take a look at what your energy provider can offer to help you achieve this?

British Gas offers a range of tools in order to help you reduce your energy consumption, as well as cheap business gas prices and a guaranteed 10 per cent reduction on electricity bills when you switch.

Depending on what line of business you are in, there should be many ways of improving its green credentials. Take a look at what some of the greenest companies in the UK have done, for inspiration:

Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group was named Green Business of the Year in the Green Business Awards 2011 for its ethical operating plan. This plan shows that the Co-operative Group gives ethical and environmental issues the same priority as financial operations, meaning a real commitment to green issues.

The Co-operative runs a wide range of ethical and environmental programmes including a range of policies dedicated to environmental protection. These include a commitment to reducing carbon emissions (already reduced by 35 per cent), energy usage and water consumption (reduced 20 per cent since 2008), as well as carbon offsetting and supporting the development and use of green energy and community energy. Natural conservation projects, a commitment to reducing pesticide use and involvement in a ‘clean energy revolution’ are also part of the Co-operative’s ‘green’ plan.

In addition to its plethora of environmentally beneficial projects and policies, the Co-operative also runs many ethical programmes such as a commitment to fairtrade, a green programme for young people and investment in over 10,000 community initiatives during 2011.

With all of the above, and more, it’s clear to see that the Co-operative has a strong commitment to protecting and preserving the environment and is deserving of the title Green Business of the Year.

While you may feel unable to make a difference on such a grand scale, you can take inspiration from the Co-operative group by reducing your energy consumption and waste levels, and buying greener consumables and equipment. You can also get involved in green community projects, donating either time, services or money, and gain goodwill and a greener reputation.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer was another winner at the Green Business of the Year awards, taking home the Built Environment award for its innovative new eco-store in Sheffield. As one of the most sustainable retail outlets in the UK, this store incorporates many green features, and has been designed to consume 30 per cent less energy than a comparable store.

The design and development of this store is just one of Marks and Spencer’s ‘Plan A’ eco and ethical programme, which has the aim of making Marks and Spencer the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015.

Other ‘green’ M&S initiatives include ‘teardrop’ shaped lorries designed to consume less fuel and the new ‘Shwopping’ programme which has the aim of recycling as many clothes as sold.

While it’s unlikely that a small or medium business owner has the capacity to redesign its company vehicles or build a new eco-store from scratch, there are many ways to increase energy efficiency.

Sign up for cheap business gas and electricity prices at British Gas and you can benefit from Smart Metering and a Business Energy Insight Service to enable you to see where and how your energy consumption can be reduced.

If you have company cars, you could also consider swapping them for smaller eco cars or electric cars. There are also additional tax benefits to choosing more eco-friendly cars for business use. You can find more information on this at the HMRC website.

As well as showing that your business is environmentally conscientious, which is great for business reputation and PR as well as the environment, ‘going green’ can also save your company money.

Follow the lead of some of the biggest names in business and build a smarter, more efficient, more environmentally aware business, for a bright future all round.