The environment is a topic on everyone’s minds these days. From climate change to reducing single use plastics and air pollution, we all know that it is important to live responsibly and protect the environment. If you’re like most people, you are probably are trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle by recycling, using reusable shopping bags, and so on. But what about your business? What are the impacts of your business activities on the environment?
Why You Should Make Your Business More Eco-Friendly
Making your business more environmentally friendly is not only the right thing to do, but it’s good business too as more and more, consumers prefer to use green businesses. In one 2019 survey, 72% of consumers said they preferred environmentally-friendly products over single-use disposable items. This means that moving in an eco-friendly direction will likely increase your customer base and drive more sales.
These changes do not need to be huge nor expensive. Many eco-friendly changes that small businesses can make are relatively simple and inexpensive, so let’s take a look at some of the ways you can green up your small business.
Go Paperless (As Much as Possible)
Most businesses go through a huge amount of paper per year, contributing to loss of native habitats of animals as they are replaced by forests grown to produce paper. In today’s electronic age, it is possible to do most things without paper, by utilizing emails instead of snail mail, using Google Drive for documents, and using Asana for project management can all reduce your company’s paper usage. As much as possible, make all your internal processes paperless, as well as your interactions with customers by making correspondence, flyers, reminders, and invoices digital.
If you’re afraid you may lose customers this way, you can always give them a choice. Ask your clients if they’d prefer to receive their invoices on paper or electronically. People love to be consulted, and you’re showing off your green credentials at the same time!
Use Recycled Office Supplies
When you absolutely have to use paper, make sure it’s recycled. Recycling can have huge impacts as each ton of recycled paper saves 7,000 gallons of water and 3 cubic yards of landfill, for a start.
This approach shouldn’t be limited to paper only. Make sure all of your office supplies are PCW (post-consumer waste) products. This should include packaging, folders, toilet paper, napkins, or any other paper-related item that your business uses! Beware that not all recycled products are created equally– check the percentage of recycled materials and choose those containing the highest percentage of recycled product.
Use Solar Energy
This one takes more investment, but this is a way to really reduce the environmental impact of your business. As much as you try to reduce your energy consumption, there are certain essential items for small businesses that require electricity, such as computers and the internet, card readers, and point of sale systems. If these things are powered off the electricity grid, all of this use of energy contributes to fossil fuel emissions and contributes to climate change.
Renewable energy is the best alternative, and solar energy can be an accessible option for homes and businesses. You could consider installing solar panels on your roof. If this is not practicable or if you cannot afford this investment, you may be able to elect to receive renewably sourced energy through your utility provider – get in touch with them to find out.
Cut Down on Commuting
The environmental impact of your business extends beyond the direct impacts; consider the indirect effects your business is having on the environment. One of these is the energy used and emissions produced as your employees commute to work. Encourage your team to use public transport, cycle, or utilize other green forms of transport to get to work. Of course, you should do this too!
You can also organize company carpools, which is not only better for the environment but promotes socializing and team building. Also think about reducing other travel associated with your business, such as travel to and from meetings and sales calls. To minimize travel, have these meetings over video conferencing whenever possible.
Source Environmentally Friendly Supplies
Buying only ecologically friendly supplies, also known as green procurement, is another way to reduce your business’ impact on the environment. This involves making sure all the supplies that your business uses, whether to create products that you sell or supplies that you use to maintain your business, are produced in a sustainable and ethical way. Ask your suppliers about their practices, and if they are unsatisfactory, shop around for alternatives. Also be sure to buy local as much as possible, this reduces the carbon miles your supplies take to get to you.
Reduce the Amount of Water you Use
Water is another precious natural resource, and one that needs to be conserved, especially as the world’s climate changes. Depending on your business, you may or may not use large volumes of water, but water conservation is something that all businesses should work to do as much as possible. Install low-flow toilets and taps, and make sure that your plumbing is in good order to eliminate wasteful leaks and drips. If you have landscaping, switch to plants that don’t require much water.