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How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Work

By Kurina Baksh
Last updated: June 12, 2024
Key Takeaways

Taking small steps to reduce your company’s carbon footprint can have a big impact.

Managing your company’s carbon footprint is an important step in reducing the impact of climate change and becoming a more socially responsible business.

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Not only is this the right thing to do, but it’s also beneficial for your organization. Reducing your carbon footprint will typically eliminate wasteful materials and practices, which can reduce costs and increase productivity. A greener business is also more attractive to clients, investors, and prospective employees. And it will help you get ahead of future environmental regulations that will be imposed on your industry.

In this article, we’ll go over three things you should do to have a more positive impact on the planet.

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What Is Your Carbon Footprint?

Your company’s carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, measured in tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), directly and indirectly produced by its business activities. This includes the emissions from company vehicles or trucks used to transport your products, heating and powering your facility, and your manufacturing processes.

Your carbon footprint is calculated as the sum of all CO2 emissions produced within a given time frame (usually a year).

Why Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Emissions?

The burning of fossil fuels (either directly via coal, oil, and gas or indirectly via electricity) releases large quantities of CO2 and other gases into the atmosphere.

Earth’s atmosphere behaves like a greenhouse, in that it traps heat. This keeps our planet warm and suitable for life. But when there is too much CO2 in the atmosphere, the warming becomes excessive. The sun’s rays can still pass through and warm the Earth’s surface, but that heat is then trapped by the atmosphere and cannot dissipate.

This warming has caused a rise in sea levels, record-breaking heat waves, and an increased frequency of extreme weather events – all of which have further catastrophic consequences.

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Since the vast majority of carbon emissions are produced by businesses rather than households, it’s up to companies to do their part to alleviate the problem. With the right steps, your workforce can be a powerful tool in reducing the impacts of climate change.

Three Steps to Reduce Your Workplace’s Carbon Footprint

1. Measure and Assess Your Carbon Emissions

The main sources of carbon emissions in the workplace are:

  • Electricity that is used for lighting, heating, cooling, and electronic equipment
  • Natural gas used for heating and in commercial kitchens
  • Vehicles, including company cars, service vans, and trucks
  • Waste production
  • Water consumption, as a lot of energy is used to treat, pump, and deliver water

2. Take Action to Reduce Your Use of Fossil Fuels

The most efficient and effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the workplace is to improve energy efficiency. This can be done by following these guidelines:

  • Ensure that the workplace is properly insulated and draft-proof
  • Install equipment with automatic power-reducing features, like timers and senor lights
  • Use energy efficient lightbulbs like LEDs and CFLs
  • Minimize the use of artificial lighting during the daytime
  • Heat or cool areas as needed, rather than leaving the heat or air conditioning running in rooms that are seldom used
  • Make sure no heat or ventilation sources are blocked
  • Train staff on using equipment in ways that reduce waste
  • Encourage workers to commute, carpool, or bike to work rather than driving
  • Provide workers with incentives for low-carbon transport, such as bus passes or flexible working hours

With regards to waste production:

  • Reduce the use of non-recyclable materials
  • Recycle as much materials as possible, such as paper, cans, plastic, and glass
  • Consider purchasing recycled products, such as printing paper

(Learn more in Plastic Recycling Symbols Explained)

3. Raise Awareness Among Your Workforce

Raising awareness is an effective way to bring about positive change in your workplace. After all, workers can’t make the right choices if they don’t know what the right choices are – or if it simply doesn’t occur to them.

Raise awareness by:

  • Sharing and spreading information through the company newsletter, signage, informal meetings, or your onboarding process
  • Briefing workers on climate change and the potential impacts that it may have on their health and well-being
  • Organizing training sessions on best practices for reducing waste and emissions
  • Inviting workers to take action, as getting them involved will make the more engaged in your carbon reducing initiatives

A Step in the Right Direction

Reducing carbon emissions is not optional. We have already seen the effects these emissions have had on our climate and the worse may be yet to come. It’s up to everyone to do their part to make things better.

So, take your first step. Aim to reduce your company’s emissions by 10 percent within one year – then aim even higher.

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Written by Kurina Baksh

Kurina Baksh

Kurina Baksh is a Health, Safety and Environment Professional from Trinidad and Tobago. As a recent graduate in the field, she is trained to analyze and advise on a wide range of issues related to her area of expertise. Currently, she is an independent consultant who develops public outreach and education programmes for an international clientele. She strongly believes that increasing public outreach and education can promote hazard awareness and ultimately save lives.

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