Are you looking to 'green' your business? There are many different components to running a Green business successfully.
For us, at the Fifty Shades Greener office, it all starts by learning how to control and reduce your use of energy, water and production of waste.
How can you make your business green?
Many people think that buying compostable take away cups, containers, and other biodegradable materials means they're 'being green', but this is just a tiny part of it. In fact, I am predicting that in the next 12 months we are going to see a backlash against these compostable items. Currently, their life cycle is not working, and they are still creating a vast amount of waste. If a compostable material is not disposed of correctly, and it ends up in landfill, it will not biodegrade as quick as we think.
Focus on reducing business wastage
The reality is, the only way to sort out the huge waste problem we have in the world is waste minimisation - and that starts with single-use items, regardless of the material they are made of. Anything that is a single-use item should be replaced with a suitable re-usable item. 'Single-use' is a thing of modern times - if you ask your grandparents, they would never dream of buying something that you can only use once. You pay for it, you use it, and then you pay again to get it taken away. \
For businesses, it makes no sense to continue using single-use items. To learn more about this and start reducing your business Waste, you can invest in my Greener for Beginners Online Waste course, here.
Reduce your carbon footprint
Aside from single-use items, going green means making a focused effort to reduce your carbon footprint. And you can reduce your carbon footprint by simply reducing your consumption of energy & water and production of waste.
For businesses in hospitality looking to reduce their carbon footprint, the very first step is to create your 'starting point' of water, energy and waste - benchmarking your usage and consciously starting to measure your utility consumption. When you measure and monitor something, you can manage it, and when you can manage something, you can reduce its use.
How do we do that? With our utility bills.
Using utility bills to help monitor your carbon footprint
I have been working with hotel managers for over 3 years. I was a hotel manager myself for 17 years previous to that, and it never fails. Every customer I meet receives an electricity or waste bill, sends it to accounts, and it gets paid. No questions asked. Have you ever consider the bill could be wrong and you could be overpaying?
When I started my own green journey at Hotel Doolin, in County Clare, I started studying the information given in our utility bills.
Two things I found out very quickly:
1. Three of our Waste bills in the previous year had double entry errors. Basically, we had been charged twice for the pick up of the same bins over the year. This amounted to €700 of wrong charges. I contacted the waste management company, and we immediately got out money back.
2. We were being penalised in our electricity bill, by over €500 every single month. Here in Ireland, and it could also be the case in other countries, every business has a MIC (Maximum Import Capacity) set up from the start of their connection to the ESB network. This MIC is calculated when you first connect your power to the network, based on your needs.
What happened to us is that several years after our first connection to the network, we had renovated and doubled the size of our kitchen. This meant having nearly double the amount of equipment, which meant, in turn, we were surpassing our MIC of electricity every month, and we were being penalised by over €500 a month. Of course, on the actual bill, they do not call it a penalty, so it isn't straightforward to identify what the extra charge actually is.
I learned a valuable lesson back then - CHECK YOUR BILLS! Go through them with care, and make sure you understand everything that you are being charged for. Once you understand all charges on your bill, you need to start monitoring your consumption, so you can identify if it is going up or down at any stage.
Your consumption will vary depending on how busy your hotel is during a period. If you have 1000 more guests this month compared to last month, you are likely to use more energy, more water and produce more waste. So comparing your total bills, from one month to another, is not enough. You need to calculate your consumption per person.
The green indicators you need are:
- Kwh/Per Person
- Waste Kg/Per Person
- Water M3/Per Person
Once you have calculated those indicators and set them as your starting point, you can compare your real consumption, and compare one month against the next month.
This is how I started learning about my utilities. And once I had set our starting point and learned to monitor it every month, I started identifying areas where we could save energy or water, and reduce our waste. Within 2 years, we had managed to reduce our energy consumption by 30%, our waste by 40% and our water by 25%. Imagine what that did for our business bottom line!
The savings you can make from turning green are a huge advantage to businesses of all sizes. Learn more about the financial benefits of becoming an eco-friendly company as part of our online training courses here.
Top tips for making your business green:
So my advice to you this week is:
- Get a folder, and find all your waste, water, electricity, gas & oil bills from last year, put them in the folder in date order.
- Go through them, one by one, and make sure you understand every single charge on the bills. If there is something that you do not understand, call the supplier company and ask for an explanation.
- Identify the number of customers and staff that were at your premises every month last year. The more people at your business, the more utilities you will have used.
- Design simple excel charts, where you can enter your monthly Customer & Staff number, your monthly kWh of electricity, your monthly Kg of Landfill, food waste, etc
- Find out what your waste, water and energy starting points are.
And that is the start of your Green journey! It might seem tedious, but to me, it is the first step towards managing your building. In your business, you manage your people, you manage your stock, you manage your accounts, but 99% of Hotel Managers forget they also need to manage their buildings.
If you need help creating the excel charts to create your starting point, pop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you back with my Fifty Shades Greener charts completely free to use.