When you think about the festive season, what comes to mind? Plastic decorations, Secret Santa, eating too much (and maybe a hangover).
While often a lot of fun, the niggling doubt that this way of celebrating Christmas isn’t beneficial for the environment lingers far longer than a sore head after a slap-up breakfast.
Without question, it’s been a hugely difficult year. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown our routines into the air at the same time as bringing our priorities into sharp relief. Concerns around health, the wellbeing of our loved ones, a sense of community and the future of our planet are more important than ever.
That’s why I think there’s never been a better time to reduce your company carbon footprint than right now. Trend agency WGSN says, “2021 is the time to test and invest, reset and build back better.” I agree.
So, the Pawprint team and I have come up with some ideas to inspire you both at an operational level and at an employee level, to help you encourage your teams to become more eco-conscious too.
Traditionally, the festive season is a good excuse to let your hair down, tuck into some mince pies and enjoy a few glasses of your favourite tipple – whether that be a spiced fruit juice or a warm mulled wine.
Now that most of us in the UK are working remotely and facing restrictions on how to socialise, do you have a plan for how to engage your employees and celebrate this Christmas?
While many are working from home, it’s a great time to get creative.
If you’re planning a Zoom party, why not send your team something eco-friendly to enjoy during the evening? BrewDog, the world’s first carbon-negative beer brand (and Pawprint’s first business customer), delivers a pint via pedal power. We also love this list of the best eco-friendly drinks for more sustainable sipping. For non-drinkers, British brand Mother Root’s ginger switchel is designed to create the same sense of occasion as the stronger kind.
If you’re planning ‘activities’ to kick off the event, include a discussion around your sustainability goals for 2021 to get the whole team engaged with what you want to achieve as a business. Maybe you’re planning a quiz as part of the festivities, and could test your team on if they know how green you are? Make it fun!
Pawprint for Business inspires employees to fight climate change and helps businesses measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprints. Learn more
Gifting and no-tat Secret Santa
If you’re planning to invest in personalised presents, or gift vouchers for your workforce this Christmas then it’s a good time to consider your options.
For example, did you know that Amazon’s carbon footprint for the 2019 Fiscal Year was 51.17 million metric tonnes (MMT) CO2e? That’s the equivalent of 13 coal burning power plants running for a year. It’s also an increase from 2018 when they reported a carbon footprint of 44.4 MMT.
This year, support an ethical business and reduce your company’s carbon footprint. If you can avoid it, not buying ‘stuff’ would be the best route to go down. You could:
- Give experiences
- Donate to a project that protects nature. For example, the National Trust offers a range of tree/woodland planting gifts that remove carbon from the air and open up new habitats for wildlife.
- Invest in a business that’s fighting climate change on your employees’ behalf. For example, one of Pawprint’s investors enabled its employees to gift a £10 investment during our recent crowdfunding round.
If you want to give something tangible, sustainable online store Know The Origin has gift vouchers for their range of conscious brands, and ethical marketplace Social Supermarket has beautiful hampers. As a business, they promise environmental sustainability is at the heart of everything they do.
As for Secret Santa, colleagues gifting small items to each other can be a great way to build team camaraderie, but let’s face it – more often than not “joke” presents end up in the bin. Encourage employees to buy eco-friendly presents if they are doing a Secret Santa.
And why not send a parcel of eco-friendly tape, wrapping paper and twine to your employees for them to use?
Looking for eco-friendly Secret Santa gifts for under £20? Read the blog
Normally we would suggest that businesses book a vegetarian-friendly restaurant that favours using British produce for their Christmas party, but as restrictions are going to make that difficult, how about encouraging a more plant-based lifestyle instead?
I’m not suggesting a fully meat-free Christmas dinner (although that would be the lowest carbon option), but if you and your employees tried replacing a few meaty/cheesy Christmas treats with plant-based ones, you could really make a dent in your personal carbon footprints.
Other ideas include buying only locally-grown, seasonal produce to reduce food miles, swapping one cheese on the board to a vegan option—our Content Manager, Beth, swears by The Arty Vegan’s scheese—and having a ‘leftovers’ action plan that means you don’t waste any of the leftovers. Check out our ‘Tips to reduce food waste’ article for more ideas on that subject.
Have a Christmas clear out
The end of the year is a great time for an office clear out. Here’s a few ideas, including tasks you could achieve virtually if need be:
- Donate unused equipment to those in need and reuse and recycle where possible.
- Consider your company’s IT footprint. Reassess your business’s processes and consider where you could reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
- Give the planet an early Christmas present by switching to a green energy supplier. Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, according to data from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In the UK, burning fossil fuels to make electricity is the biggest source of CO2e emissions, which shows how vital it is that we phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible.
- Inform yourself of greener options for your physical office. The UK Green Building Council has a mission to radically improve the sustainability of the built environment, by transforming the way it is planned, designed, constructed, maintained and operated.
Progress not perfection: be kind to yourself
As you plan budgets and draft business plans for the difficult year ahead, consider the impact your business has on the environment. But remember: progress is better than perfection. If there’s one thing we stand by here at Pawprint, it’s that we’ve all got to start somewhere. There’s never any reason to judge those that are just starting out.
Instead, businesses should realise that they have the opportunity “to guide change and offer practical solutions” that can help consumers, customers or clients build a new way of life. Baking sustainable goals into your business plan, therefore, is more critical than ever.
If you’re unsure where to start, you could look to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which cover areas like climate action, sustainable consumption and production and life below water (a crucial one as our oceans absorb about 30% of the CO2e produced by humans).
You could also turn to us at Pawprint. We're building a tool to help ambitious businesses like BrewDog measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprint, as well as engage their employees on their shared sustainability goals.
We do this using data that’s validated by leading carbon expert, Mike Berners-Lee. He is a professor, researcher and the author of There is no Planet B, How Bad are Bananas, The Carbon Footprint of Everything and The Burning Question, so he really knows his stuff.
And the benefits of using Pawprint for Business are immense:
- Quick and easy understanding of your company’s environmental impact and the impact that your employees’ efforts have on your business’s carbon footprint.
- Engaging with your talent. Your workforce cares about the environment and wants to work for a company that shares their values.
- Business savings! Pawprint does this by encouraging behavioural change which reduces financial as well as environmental impact.
To find out more about Pawprint for business, click here.
Finally, a personal note from me. Thank you so much for being part of the Pawprint journey this year. We’re looking forward to an impactful and productive 2021 as we grow and help even more businesses with their own journeys towards a more sustainable future.
I’d love to know if you try any of these tips to reduce your company's carbon footprint. If you do, please leave a comment below. Stay safe and I’ll see you on the other side!