What can brands be doing to reduce their carbon emissions?

The 2021 edition of the United Nations Annual Climate Change Conference (COP26) is coming to a close at the end of today. An untold number of young people, businesses, leaders, MPs and tonnes of others came together to make a plan to tackle climate change.

This year the main focus of the conference was to get as many people as possible to agree to limit the temperature rise of the world to 1.5 degrees by 2030. If the temperature of the world rises above 2 degrees, the impact this will have on the natural world will be catastrophic. If we do nothing and stay as we are, we are currently on track to raise the temperature by 3 degrees which means drastic flooding, more bush fires, extreme weather and further destruction of species and habitats. We need to act now and we need to be accountable for our actions too, enabling us to make a change and protect the world for future generations.

How can we make changes as a small company or brand?

Race to Zero is a global campaign aimed at businesses, cities, regions, financial and educational institutions to pledge to halve their emissions by 2030 with an aim to “help drive towards a decarbonised, healthy and resilient world”.

This campaign aims to make all those involved accountable for their actions, by becoming a ‘partner’ or an ‘actor’ based on your business/city/region/institution. To join you must fulfil the criteria of:

Once you sign up through a registered partner you’ll be given a toolkit to help you manage and understand your emissions, as well as how to share these with your audience. You’ll be offered continual support throughout your pledge to make sure you hit your targets up to and beyond 2030. Through joining this initiative you will be helping the world to survive by taking action and stopping climate change. See a list of current members and sign up to take action through a partner via the Race to Zero website.

Cycle to Work Scheme

We’ve spoken about this before within our Sustainability Commitment. ORCA have signed up to Cyclescheme to ensure our team has access to everything they need to ditch the car and get cycling to work. Backed by the government, this initiative allows you to buy a bike through your monthly salary. What better way to reduce your carbon emissions than encouraging your staff to change up their weekly commute!

Insulate your building

9% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from non-domestic buildings. Depending on your circumstances if you’re able to insulate your building then you should look at doing so. Not only will this benefit the planet but it will save you money in the long term. You may be eligible for business energy schemes, loans or grants to help with this. Have a look at ofgem for some more information. If you aren’t in a position to do this personally, then put pressure on your landlord to implement changes needed to improve the building’s performance.

Minimise your waste

Being conscious about the waste you create is a given. Whether it’s minimising your use of single use plastic, recycling as much as possible or ensuring the products you sell (if any) are packaged in the most environmentally friendly way. We can all play our part in this in an easily manageable way.

Switch to LED bulbs

Not only do LED light bulbs last much longer than a regular bulb but they also use less energy. These are easily accessible from most hardware shops and you’ll be taking another step to making your workplace greener.

Adjust your heating times and temperatures

Making sure your heating is set at reasonable times during the day. Changing the temperature on your heating system by just one degree can significantly lower your energy consumption and emissions.

These are just a handful of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, with many more ideas available on the UK SME Climate Hub as well as from various other websites dedicated to reducing business carbon footprint.

Talk to your supply chain - and if needed make changes

Ask the businesses in your supply chain how they are reducing their emissions. This could prompt them to take action and may give you new ideas. If they are unwilling to make substantial changes, then think about changing suppliers. And factor in the environmental impact next time you are looking for a new supplier.

Choose who you do business with wisely

Make a commitment to only do business with companies who are making substantial efforts to tackle their carbon emissions and environmental impact. If we choose to cut out those who aren’t playing ball, they will be forced to change!

Shift your brand narrative

Consciously include your sustainability commitment and environmental pledges within your brand communications - both for your internal and external audience. The more we discuss these matters, the more we can influence change within our network. Change comes through transparency; be honest about your flaws and the areas that need improving within your business as this may prompt valuable advice and productive partnerships.


We're aware this is just the tip of the iceberg and there are hundreds more changes you can be implementing in order to reduce your company’s carbon emissions, but for some it may be the first small steps of encouragement you need to start taking action and making a difference. Take a look whichever partners fit your brand/company, look for their resources to help you make the first changes and then make your commitment to the Race for Zero.

Written by

Vicki Lee