How to make your practice more sustainable

Sustainability is an increasingly important aspect of every business and industry, and accounting and bookkeeping is no exception. Whether it’s day-to-day adjustments or incorporating big-picture opportunities such as net-zero advisory services, there are multiple ways to make your practice more sustainable. Here are four top tips to help you get started.

1. Start small, start internal

When thinking of new habits for your practice, it might be best to start small and consider easy ways to minimise waste and reduce your carbon footprint. Whether you work from home, or in an office, it’s possible to shift to a paperless way of working by digitising records for both your business and your clients. We happen to know some great accounting software called FreeAgent that could help you out! You can also review your wider tech stack to help you digitise your practice and clients. 

Switching to eco-products is another opportunity. Consider updating your cleaning products for bathrooms and kitchen spaces, and using refillable soap dispensers instead of single-use plastic ones. You could even check to see how efficient your light bulbs are - energy-saving LEDs could help reduce your energy bills!

2. Shine a light on invisible contributions

Whether you work by yourself or in a team, it can be beneficial to look beyond your physical workspace. Pensions are a key investment for a business and you want to make sure that your money is going somewhere that you can be proud of. Ask your pension provider about where your money is invested to check if it’s supporting any harmful industries or even consider switching to a planet-friendly portfolio.

You could also conduct an audit of your supply stream to ensure you’re doing business with suppliers aligned with your sustainability goals. Have a look at their business practices in terms of production and sustainable materials - some suppliers may even have circular products (products designed for reuse, refurbishment and, at end of life, recycling) that you could take advantage of.

3. Count carbon

If you’re ready to dig deeper into sustainability, you can start counting your carbon emissions. So how does it work? To calculate your carbon footprint, emissions are grouped into scopes: 

  • Scope 1 - emissions directly produced by your business, for example with fleet vehicles or energy production. 
  • Scope 2 - indirect emissions from purchased energy, like with your heating bill.
  • Scope 3 - indirect emissions across your value chain. This can include the carbon cost of commuting, any purchased goods or services, investments and longer life capital assets.

Once you know your emission rates, you can start to work on reducing them by setting reduction targets. It’s important to set targets that are ambitious but achievable in order to hopefully get the best results. Your target doesn’t need to be purely focused on emissions though - you could have a target to reduce excessive water and energy use in the office, for example. If you need more information, membership bodies such as ACCA have some handy sustainability guides to help you along the way. 

4. Be a conscious champion

With accountants and bookkeepers providing more of an advisory role, sustainability can be a beneficial topic for discussion with clients - no matter the size of their business.

Last year the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) issued its two inaugural standards for disclosing carbon emissions. To give more context, the second standard (IFRS S2) requires large organisations to measure their carbon emissions when it comes to their purchasing activity. While smaller businesses don’t have to measure and report on their carbon emissions, your clients might want to showcase their commitment to sustainability, highlight areas to cut costs and stay ahead of regulatory changes.

There can be financial benefits to offering new kinds of services to your clients, helping them mirror the levels of sustainability that you want to champion. Your clients can pay for additional services such as carbon accounting or net-zero advisory services. With the extra profit, you can make further conscientious decisions for your practice and your clients.

Ready to go green? Find out more on incorporating sustainability at our CPD-accredited webinar on 24th April, featuring Dr Peter Ellington of Triple Bottom Line Accounting and Gavin Spencer BA FCCA from Beach Accountants.

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