Contracting Life

How to become a more eco-friendly contractor

Friday 22nd April, is Earth Day. Held annually on the same date since 1970, Earth Day marks the birth of…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

Friday 22nd April, is Earth Day. Held annually on the same date since 1970, Earth Day marks the birth of the modern environmental movement in the USA and give voice to the environmental consciousness that was developing at the time. From 1990 it went global – mobilising 200 million people in 141 countries and putting environmental issues into worldwide headlines.

Today, Earth Day is the largest secular observance day in the world and marks a day of action to change behaviours and create global, national and local environmental policies to save the planet.

Of course, this is something we should all be doing all year round, and since you run your own business, you have the luxury of having some control over your company’s environmental impact and therefore can actively work to reduce it. Not only is this good from an ethical point of view – and will enable you to say that you are doing your bit for future generations – running your business with the environment in mind can make you a more desirable hire to organisations that are focusing on their impact.

But what can you do to be a more eco-friendly contractor?

Work remotely wherever possible

One positive to emerge from the last couple of years is that we have embraced remote working in a way previously believed impossible. Zoom, Teams, Google Workspace and other technologies* have made it a doddle to meet and collaborate while still in your PJs while also helping the environment.

Less people commuting equals less carbon-emitting vehicles on the road.

So, invest in a professional account for your chosen remote working software and make it a business policy that you will not travel to meetings or work from your client’s workplace unless it’s absolutely necessary for you to be there in person.

If you’re worried how clients may react to this, you could always put an environmental policy page on your website with details of how you reduce your impact on the planet.

Use public transport

When it is deemed necessary for you to attend a client’s office, use public transport wherever possible. If they’re a local client, there may be an easy bus or tram route you can use. If they’re more of a distance from you then the train may be ideal.

There are lots of pluses to public transport too. You can unwind with a book, pop a TV show or film on your laptop, or even get some extra work done. All things you can’t do while driving.

If you do need to drive to a client, look at how you might minimise your car usage. For instance, say you need to be with them on site for three days and they’re a good drive from your home, look at checking into a nearby hotel for a couple of nights so you’re not driving there and back every day.

Ditch the printer

Always ask yourself if you really need to print that. We print so many things for ‘safe-keeping’ and then end up shredding them months later when we don’t need them that we are basically chucking away acres upon acres of forest.

Cloud storage solutions mean you can keep your documents safe without needing to print them, and you can always invest in an external hard drive as backup too. Keeping documents digitally is better from a data protection standpoint as well.

And absolutely stop printing things that need to be signed just so you can scan the signed copy and email it. That’s one of the number one needless printing offenders.

Most word processing and PDF reader software has the option to add a digital signature to documents these days. And for your own proposals and contracts, you could always look into software such as PandaDoc*, which helps you to create documents, share them with clients and allows your clients to sign digitally without any fuss.

Use ethical suppliers

It’s no good having a strong environmental policy if you then use suppliers that don’t. Instead, be picky where you spend your pounds and look for suppliers and collaborators that share your ethics and values.

It doesn’t take more than a well-worded Google search to find environmentally friendly office supplies, carbon neutral manufacturers and ethically sourced marketing materials – so there’s nothing stopping you. And those recycled cotton business cards may just turn a few more heads than their glossy cardstock counterparts.

Switch it off

Not wasting energy is a huge part of being an eco-friendly contractor – and with energy bills on the rise, your bank balance will thank you as well. Create a specific area in your home where you work and then switch off any unused appliances, lights, heating or air conditioning in the areas in which you aren’t working.

You don’t need to heat the entire house, after all, just the room where you are. Shutting internal doors can help prevent heat escaping and stop the rest of the house turning into an igloo. Then, when you’ve finished work for the day, switch everything you’ve been using off, rather than leaving your computer on standby overnight.

Use Earth Day 2022 as the launchpad for being a more environmentally friendly contractor and find out more about the movement here.

*Kingsbridge has no affiliation to the products or services mentioned in this article.

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