And 5 Easy Ways Your Business Can Become More Environmentally Friendly...
Climate change in the North Pole probably feels way above your pay grade.
Perhaps, you’re a small local business: a boutique gym or mid-size company specialising in fitness equipment. You might even be the VP of a franchised gym group.
The climate crisis is a global emergency, but the polar ice caps are a long way from your office. Energym is based in Birmingham, so it’s a long way from our office, too.
And isn’t it ridiculous when someone asks if your business is killing the home of Christmas?
You’re not dropping bombs on icebergs, clubbing elves over the head, sniping at polar bears from helicopters or bulldozing the Claus’s family home.
Nothing so egregious, but we’re all contributing to a climate emergency.
Every person, every company has to start somewhere, and there are some really simple things that you can do as a business to reduce your impact on the environment.
We’ll discuss that below, but we’d like to tell give you some context about what climate change in the North Pole looks like (all elf jokes aside) why it’s so important that we stop it.
Where is the North Pole?
The North Pole sounds like a made-up place.
In Christmas lore, it’s the home of Santa Claus
(which doesn’t help).
But where actually is it?
The North Pole is the northern-most place on Earth. There’s the Geographic North Pole located in the Arctic Ocean under a sheet of floating ice. And then there’s the Magnetic North Pole which is where compasses point to (but which actually moves around a bit).
The North Pole gets 24-hours of sunlight in the summer and 24-hours of darkness in the winter.
According to The National Geographic, the nearest territory is Nunavut (a Canadian territory). Greenland (the closest place you’ve probably heard of) is 440 miles away.
What’s at the North Pole?
Aside from a workshop of elves?
There’s very limited human activity.
The North Pole isn’t a permanent landmass (it’s a floating sheet of ice, remember), so it would be almost impossible to establish permanent research stations or human habitation there.
There’s an interesting selection of animals calling it home: Polar bears, Arctic foxes, Walruses, ringed seals and a number of bird species.
What are the Effects of Climate Change in the North Pole?
Polar Ice Cap Reduction
Writing on the Smithsonian website, Maggy Hunter Benson explains that a global rise in temperature has decreased the amount of ice at the poles.
White ice is so important in that region because it reflects the sun’s energy back into space and without it
“Earth would absorb more solar radiation—and our climate would be even warmer”.Maggy Hunter Benson
The Magnetic North Pole is now drifting further East which many scientists now believe is a direct result of climate change.
The Poles naturally move a few meters each century but speaking to National Geographic, Surendra Adhikari, an Earth scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, says that since 2000 the Pole’s drift has made “a dramatic change”.
Scientists are hoping to better understand why this has happened, but it’s believed to be due to glacial loss in Greenland and Antarctica as well as water loss in other parts of the world.
Decline in Animal Populations
There’s also been a 50% decline in the number of reindeer and caribou grazing on the Arctic tundra in the last 2 decades.
Toxic Algae Blooms
Warmer temperatures are encouraging toxic algae blooms in the Arctic affecting food eaten by animals and humans.
Lightning strikes were recently recorded within 300 miles of the North Pole which is incredibly rare; it’s often too cold for polar lightening. The Independent also reported that there have above-average temperatures at the Pole this summer.
Why Should My Business Worry About Climate Change in the North Pole?
You wouldn’t ignore a fire burning through the top-floor of your building just because you didn’t start it or because you can’t smell or see it yet.
The climate crisis is a global one and soon it’s going to start affecting your personal and professional life.
Your people, products, consumers and customers can exist anywhere on Earth.
We used the North Pole as an example because it’s where Father Christmas lives.
But ask some children, and they’ll say he lives in Lapland.
Lapland is in Northern Finland and in December gets around 20 to 30 cm of snowfall.
Only in early December 2018, it didn’t.
Tourists arrived for a winter wonderland, and were greeted with a light sprinkling of powder and solid ground. Rising temperatures were blamed for delaying the expected snowfall.
That’s happening a few hours away in Finland.
But it’s hard to appreciate a climate emergency when your business isn’t being personally affected yet. Your role is key, however. Businesses can start at the ground-level and build up towards their sustainability goals, inspiring employees and customers to do the same.
5 Easy Ways Your Business Can Become More Environmentally Friendly
These aren’t enough to reverse climate change alone, but they’re a great start for any businesses unsure of how to proceed.
Turn off all computers and equipment before you leave the office.
A study in the US found that by leaving equipment on permanently, individuals and businesses were responsible for emitting around 20 million tonnes of C02 each year.
Getting employees to turn off their computers isn’t just about helping the environment. It could save your business money, too.
The Optimal Monitoring website writes that a single computer left on for 24-hours costs around £45 a year.
Provide chilled drinking water for your employees and encourage them to bring in re-usable bottles.
You could put a ban on plastic or supply biodegradable cups instead.
In the UK, we’re very fortunate to have fresh drinking water straight from the tap.
Encourage team members to ditch plastic in the workplace.
- Make sure you have ample recycling facilities on site and that everyone is clear how to distribute their rubbish into the different categories.
A box of paper, plastic and food waste might be enough for a small office.
You could add a clothing collection bin and encourage employees to donate to charity or to swap between themselves rather than sending unwanted items to landfill.
You could even incentivise this.
Energym believe in incentivising clean energy use to encourage people to make more environmentally friendly decisions. In 2020, for example, it’s launching GymCoin which rewards users with discounts from retailers.
Your incentives could be much smaller but whatever you do, don’t underestimate how much recognition and reward is appreciated by employees.
- Where possible, make use of video conferencing rather than traveling to meet clients. It saves money, time and reduces your carbon footprint. You could even encourage employees to work from home saving them from a long commute.
- Switch to LED light bulbs and reduce your energy bills. Changing from fluorescent lights also stops the toxic materials from ending up at a landfill. LED also lasts 6-times longer.
Your business is contributing to the climate crisis.
We’re all contributing to the climate emergency,
But it’s how we act now that will end up defining how we survive, not just as business owners but as a species.
And anyway, who wants to explain to their grandchildren that they didn’t do enough to stop killing the home of Christmas.