Ten New Year’s resolutions for biodiversity
Global biodiversity has seen a stark decline over the past 50 years. According to the WWF Living Planet Report, there has been a 68% reduction in animal populations between 1970 and 2016. This is important for business, as biodiversity supplies the ecosystem services that are fundamental to the viability of every company. As 2022 is upon us, what New Year’s resolutions can businesses set for biodiversity?
1. Set your sustainability ambition and vision for 2022 and beyond
COP26 reminded us all to move away from our unsustainable behaviours towards environmentally positive action. Setting a sustainability ambition will give you a goal and a clear structure for your business’s future. It could include writing your first sustainability strategy, updating your current plans or outlining how you will reach net zero. If you are stuck for ideas, try using our to assess how your business is performing against each of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
But don’t just stop at 2022 – or even net zero. Think further into the future and commit to becoming nature positive.
2. Recycle more
Separating your waste out for recycling will benefit biodiversity in more ways than you realise.
Firstly, recycling stops your waste going to landfill. When waste breaks down, it can release toxic substances that harm wildlife when they seep into local watercourses.
Secondly, recycling reduces the amount of litter we see scattered on our streets. Plastic litter degrades into smaller particles that damage wildlife when they are ingested.
Finally, recycling lowers the demand for new materials. Extracting natural resources for new materials can have many negative impacts on biodiversity, such as from pollution or by removing habitat.
3. Carry out a biodiversity audit of your supply chain
A biodiversity audit of your supply chain is the first step towards understanding the biodiversity impacts of your business. It can identify important areas for conservation and help explore your business’s relationship with biodiversity. By understanding the true effects of your company on nature, you can take future action to reduce or mitigate your impacts. Ultimately, it will help to safeguard your business from biodiversity-related risks and help you to become nature positive.
4. Switch to energy- and water-efficient devices
To reduce the energy consumption of your business, switch to energy-saving devices. For example, LED lights last up to 20 times longer than conventional lights. This means that fewer light bulbs will need to be manufactured, which lowers the demand for new materials. Other types of lightbulb can also contain toxic elements; for example, fluorescent lights contain mercury. If the bulbs are taken to landfill, the mercury can leach out into the surrounding ecosystems.
LED lightbulbs are 80% more energy efficient than other lightbulbs because they convert more energy into light as opposed to heat (Image Source: Thalia Ruiz on Unsplash)
Toilets use a large amount of water. In the UK, each loo flush uses nine litres of water on average. By introducing low-flush loos, the amount of water wasted in each flush can be reduced. In addition, there may be ways for you to use recycled water for non-potable applications – like toilet flushing.
5. Calculate and report your ecological footprint
Your business’s ecological footprint is a measure of the natural capital required to sustain your company. It calculates the impact of your business against the biocapacity of the globe. It is a globally standardised measure that is easy to understand. This makes it simple to compare your performance with other companies and communicate your impact on biodiversity to your stakeholders.
6. Celebrate an environmental day
Why not offer your employees an extra day of holiday to participate in an activity that promotes biodiversity? This could be planting trees in a local park, litter picking, a beach clean-up, making bird feeders or creating your own company garden! This will help your employees to engage with nature and promote more environmentally sustainable behaviour.
7. Create a wild corner
Whether you have a company green space, a car park or a window box, there are always opportunities to encourage biodiversity. Every patch of nature will help wildlife! If you do have an outside area, cordon off a section to plant native trees or add a pile of logs. For the UK’s native mammals, consider bird or bat boxes and hedgehog houses. All of these will bring nature to your place of work.
Even if you have no control over your outside area, you can still install window bird feeders or create balcony gardens to help support wildlife. Otherwise, sponsor a local wildlife trust or encourage your employees to make wildlife interventions in their own gardens.
According to the RSPB, one in four birds in the UK are on UK Red List. Window bird feeders are one way to encourage bird life (Image Source: Dan Barrett on Unsplash)
8. Source your energy from renewable providers
Switch to a renewable provider for the energy that you consume. This will reduce your energy footprint and release less greenhouse gas. Switching to renewable energy also reduces the amount of fossil fuels being extracted, minimising the harm to biodiversity by lowering the risk of oil spills and habitat degradation.
You could even consider installing renewable energy technology on your site(s) – perhaps solar panels on your roof! In addition to the climate benefits, on-site renewable energy production will reduce the risk of local energy price volatility.
9. Use sustainable paper in your office
Paper is a significant contributor to office waste in the UK. Currently, according to WWF, paper accounts for 15% of global wood consumption. This puts huge pressure on global forests to supply our office paper cravings.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification is a system to help businesses (and individuals) to buy paper in a responsible way. Buying FSC-certified paper will help to minimise deforestation and unsustainable forestry.
Recycled paper is also better for the environment as it consumes 28–70% less energy than virgin paper. Recycling also extends the lifespan of paper and prevents unnecessary waste entering landfill.
But don’t just think about your printer paper – toilet paper can also be made from recycled material!
10. Listen to your customers and employees
A 2019 article in the Guardian revealed that the environment is the third most pressing issue for UK citizens. Many age groups, especially millennials, are growing more concerned about the environment and this is only likely to increase. Acting now could benefit biodiversity and give you a competitive edge.
(Image Source: Moritz Knöringer on Unsplash)
*Banner photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash