Today is World Environment Day and people, including corporates world-wide, are celebrating the United Nation’s principal vehicle to help encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment. In an effort to reduce its environmental footprint, Vodacom is investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing waste and wastefulness, reducing its water footprint and implementing eco-friendly solutions at the core of its operations.
As we celebrate World Environment Day, here are some environment facts to be aware of:
- 92 percent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air
- Air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs
- 2016 was the warmest year on record
- 800 million people (11% of the world’s population), are currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as floods, droughts, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise
- The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations in South Africa is “Think.Eat.Save”, which is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages footprint reductions
- According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),1.3 million tonnes of food is wasted every year
Climate change has become a serious problem that we can no longer ignore, which is why it's imperative every business do its part in reducing the impact on the environment. Here are three ways to do this, following the proactive steps Vodacom has already taken.
1. Invest in renewable energy
There are many benefits to using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind, rather than oil or gas.
- Over time, your electricity bills will decrease and you'll save money because you won't be competing for scarce resources.
- If the power is cut, your business will still be able to function optimally. While renewable energy is dependent on sources such as the weather, think about it: if one solar panel or one windmill stops working, you can still rely on the other panels or mills. Not so if Eskom cuts the electricity.
- Coal and gas are two of the biggest contributors to global warming, whereas renewable energy sources produce very little or no global warming emissions at all.
2. Reduce waste
Here is how you can minimise the amount of waste your company produces – remember to get your entire staff on board with these steps:
- Communicate with email and mobile phones rather than paper. If you must print something, use eco-friendly paper and print on both sides of the paper.
- Make sure recycling bins are readily available and that your staff know what can be recycled how and when. Components from old computers, batteries and phones can be recycled.
- Think carefully about the items you give or receive: does every person need a desk calendar? Do you need to take every free notebook provided at a conference?
- Enable power-saving mode for appliances and electronics that aren't used continuously.
3. Reduce your water footprint
South Africa is a water-scarce country and in recent years, we have certainly felt the implications of this. That is why it's important not just for you as a company to take steps to reduce the amount of water you use but to also educate your staff about ways they can contribute to saving water within the workplace. Here are some ways you and they can do this:
- Use hand sanitiser rather than soap and water.
- Instal water-friendly toilets, taps and urinals.
- Use grey water when possible – to water office plants, for example.
Proof that businesses can make a difference
Vodacom has already seen major wins when it comes to minimising our impact on the environment. Here are five of these successes:
- Reduction of greenhouse gasses by 135,510tCO2e
- Consumption of office paper down by 11%
- Business travel in rental cars down by 24%
- Business flights down by 34%
- Water consumption in offices down by 19%