Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses. Consumers are starting to care more and more about the sustainable practices of the businesses and brands they support. For small businesses this can be a much larger feat compared to a large organization, but even small changes show shoppers you know, you care and you’re trying. If you’re not trying yet, there are simple steps you can take to get started on the path towards being more environmentally responsible.
- Assess your production: Look for easy ways you can reduce waste throughout the lifecycle of your products and services. This could include small changes like switching to reusable cutlery in your office lunch room instead of single use plastic, or larger changes like using recyclable or compostable packaging for products.
- Conduct an energy audit: An energy audit is a great way to assess your business’s energy usage and identify areas for improvement. You can conduct an audit yourself or hire a professional to help. Keeping lights turned off in conference rooms, bathrooms and infrequently used areas is a quick win!
- Implement recycling and composting programs: Encouraging employees to recycle and compost can help reduce the amount of waste your business generates. This not only benefits the environment but can also lower your garbage disposal costs.
- Use eco-friendly products: From paper and cleaning supplies to office equipment and packaging materials, choosing eco-friendly options can help reduce your business’s impact on the environment. This one can be tough as many eco-friendly products come with a higher price point which isn’t feasible for many small business budgets. If this is the case for your business, a step in the right direction can be as simple as finding ways to reduce usage of the products that do work for you.
- Promote sustainable transportation: Encouraging employees to carpool, bike, or take public transportation to work can help reduce emissions and traffic congestion. If you work in an area where these aren’t great options, consider other opportunities like work from home arrangements.
It can seem daunting up front, but making sustainable changes brings many long-term benefits for small businesses too.
- Cost savings: Implementing sustainable practices can save small businesses money by reducing waste, using energy more efficiently, and lowering utility bills. For example, switching to energy-efficient lighting or appliances, using recycled materials, and reducing water usage can all result in lower costs.
- Increased competitiveness: Sustainability is becoming a key piece of the decision-making process for consumers. By incorporating sustainable practices into your business, you can stand out from the competition and appeal to environmentally conscious customers.
- Compliance with regulations: Many countries have laws and regulations in place to protect the environment and workers. If you outsource any part of your production, being proactive about sustainability can help you avoid penalties and fines for non-compliance.
- Positive impact on the environment: Of course, the most important reason to prioritize sustainability is to reduce the impact your business has on the environment. By conserving resources and reducing waste, small businesses can help preserve the planet for future generations.
Much of our everyday lives has become digital, and while it can be much more convenient and reduce the need for print materials, it too has its limits. Using a smart device for things like reading, communication, and research can reduce the need for printing and therefore, lower emissions related to printing. However, used excessively or disposed of inappropriately, it can have an equally negative impact on the environment. This is especially true when it comes to high turnover rates and the feeling that technology needs to be the latest and greatest whenever possible. The manufacturing of smart devices requires a significant amount of energy and materials, leading to emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.