As a small business, it’s easy to convince yourself that your environmental impact is equally small. However, with eco-friendly practices becoming the business norm, mostly driven by customer demand, your clients may not see it that way- nor will the planet.
There’s a lot you can do to ‘green’ up even the smallest business. Let’s take a look.
Sustainable Practices Matter to Consumers
Sustainability and eco-friendly practices have come to matter to consumers. Interestingly, this applies across a broad range of practices, ages, and other demographics. Consumers now feel empowered to actively push back against wasteful, planet-harming business practices, and they vote with their dollars.
Either you can keep up, or you can get left behind as companies more willing to be flexible, actively-engaged participants take over customers and build better brand loyalty. Additionally, businesses that can show consistent effort and progress towards better eco-friendly goals attract consumers whose interests align with theirs. How, then, can you reduce your environmental impact as a smaller business?
Use Remote Work Where Possible
As the pandemic has shown, remote work is possible across a broad range of jobs and industries. Not only does this help foster a better work-life balance for staff, but it also cuts down on the pollution generated by daily commutes. Reducing both your business’ carbon footprint and keeping staff more productive, it’s a win-win for you and the earth.
If you run a business where on-site staff are essential, you can still help cut down on environmental impact by offering staff public transit benefits, encouraging them to use greener commute options.
It’s common to focus on suppliers and product components when onboarding greener product options, but there’s a lot more than just your supply chain involved in your business. From what toilet paper you use, to the brand of printer paper you print receipts on, using sustainable products makes sense. Green cleaners and recycled paper can do a lot to help the environment.
Is your break room littered with disposable cutlery and cups? Switch to steel and ceramic to reduce waste. Skip the pod-based coffee machines, and offer filter coffee that produces less unnecessary waste. Encourage staff to print on both sides of the paper, and reuse boxes within the office setting. Provide recycling options in the breakroom, and work with a recycler to collect and process the waste. You get the idea.
Workplaces can be a surprisingly productive environment for composting, too. While all organic matter will degrade in time, when it hits standard landfills this can be a slow and non-productive process. Working with a local compost service to have your organic waste processed directly into fruitful compost is another good way to green up your office environment. That goes double if you happen to work in a food industry!
Likewise, what happens to the byproducts of your trading activities? Do your products generate waste in the production process? Can you recycle it? Almost every modern business is running on a plethora of electronic gadgets. What happens when they reach the end of their asset cycle?
Consider engaging with a trusted electronic recycler to handle your e-waste. Not only do you make the world a better place, but you might even get a small sum to rollover to replacement costs, too.
Businesses are pretty notorious for always looking to first-buy options when kitting out your physical space. Yes, image is important to maintain, but beautiful vintage pieces can look far better in an office setting than mass-manufactured, low-quality flat pack furniture. Likewise, if you’re buying new, buy for quality instead of price where possible.
A desk that will last a decade is a far better choice than one fractionally cheaper you’ll be replacing every few years.
Look At Packaging
As more retailers work online, packaging has become a reality for almost every industry. And it’s not just about the presentation packaging of your product, either. Your items are being shipped in boxes, with padding to prevent damage in transit. How sustainable are any of these items? If you’re still using plastic and polystyrene in your shipping, not ever.
Recycled paper, cardboard, and other packaging options, including compostable packaging, are easy to come by, and can be used to create luxurious sensory experiences for the customer, too.
What’s better than eco-friendly practices in business? Ones that shrink your bottom line, too! When you look at energy-efficient alternatives in the office and your production cycle, you help keep your bills low and the environmental impact even lower.
LED lightbulbs, sensors to help regulate switching lights on and off, leveraging natural light, using laptops over desktops, and simply choosing low-energy appliances can help you save the planet and save money.
Greening the Internet
Our online practices use energy, too. Web hosts chow huge amounts of energy to keep servers up and running. Data centers, cloud hosts, and offsite backup likewise. Many tech firms are investing millions into going carbon-neutral with their energy usage, and opting to support those who do makes sense.
Of course, the tech industry isn’t the only place where companies are making sustainability efforts. When you partner with vendors and suppliers with the same goals as you, you help reduce the carbon footprint of your supply chain, too. Not only are you supporting businesses with the same goals as your own, but you’re making the world a better place too.
Each and every business, as well as the individuals within it, contribute to pollution, climate change, and the waste crisis. You’re never too small (or too big) to start looking at ways to do business better, bringing sustainability practices and innovations into every stage of how you operate.
We all have a part to play, no matter our size. As more and more businesses make sustainability both a habit and a selling point, it’s critical to keep up with the competition and position yourself to not only help reverse climate change and harmful business practices, but stay ahead of your competition, too.