It’s a well-known fact that business activities have a major impact on the environment. While large businesses and corporations are responsible for approximately 70% of global emissions, small businesses also contribute to pollution and climate change, therefore they also have the ability and the responsibility to make a meaningful change and take active measures to protect the environment.
That sounds great in theory, but when it comes to putting things into practice, a lot of entrepreneurs refrain from taking initiative, either because they don’t know how to switch to a more sustainable business model or because they fear this might leave a big hole in their budget, thus affecting their bottom line.
The simple truth is that embracing sustainable practices and making your business greener doesn’t necessarily imply large investments. However, you do need to put in some effort if you want to change things for the better. Even if you can’t save the planet all by yourself, every little step taken in the right direction counts, and that should serve as a motivation to start your eco-friendly journey as soon as possible.
Ensure Sustainable Procurement
If you want to build a business that has minimal negative impact on the environment or a positive effect on the local community, you should start with a simple question: where do you source all the items and materials that your business uses? Your sustainability efforts will mostly be in vain if you support suppliers that don’t have the same vision when it comes to eco-friendly practices.
So, the first thing you have to do is ensure green procurement. This means you should only partner up with suppliers who provide goods and services in a sustainable manner. Choose products that are made of recyclable or recycled materials and try to work with local suppliers as much as possible to reduce transport costs and pollution.
Reduce Single-Use Items
Convenience is often the enemy of sustainability. A good example of that is represented by the single-use items that most companies rely on. Plastic bottles or single-use plastic cutlery have become prevalent in office environments these days. These items end up in the landfill, accounting for almost 150 million tons of plastic waste each year.
The good news is you can easily replace single-use items with environmentally friendly alternatives. Small changes such as purchasing reusable cups and cutlery or reusable bags can make a world of a difference and significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills and oceans.
Improve Waste Management Practices
All businesses produce waste, no matter how much they struggle to recycle or reduce the amounts. While you can’t completely eliminate waste out of the equation, you can improve your waste management practices.
Start by measuring the quantity of waste that your business generates on a regular basis. If your business produces a lot of cardboard waste, the best solution is to use a baler for cardboard compaction and recycling to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. You can find excellent cardboard balers on the market that you can either rent or purchase at affordable prices. You should also find a suitable waste collection contractor and inquire about your recycling options.
Educate Employees on Sustainability
If you want your sustainability efforts to pay off, you have to get your employees on board. Without the support of your staff, it’s going to be difficult to build the green business that you envision.
Therefore, the solution is to educate your employees on environmental matters and create a sustainability culture in your company. That can be achieved by clearly defining your sustainability goals, establishing sustainability guidelines and policies, and making sure all your employees are trained in this respect. Try to make environmental protection fun for your team members by rewarding them when achieving green goals and celebrating your successes.
Reduce Energy Usage
Energy usage is a big environmental concern these days and we all know that businesses big and small are major energy consumers. When it comes to energy-saving tips for businesses, most often small changes have the biggest impact.
Things like turning off lights and equipment when not in use, purchasing energy-efficient equipment, installing programmable thermostats or switching to LED lighting can significantly lower energy consumption. This will benefit both your business, as it helps reduce operating costs and improve brand reputation, and the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Reuse Office Supplies
Small changes can make a big difference indeed, but it goes both ways. You may not realize that some of the most basic office supplies that you use on a daily basis have a big contribution to landfill waste. File folders, paper, paper clips, sticky notes, pens and pencils, or rubber bands often get discarded after just a few uses.
The best solution to curb this habit is to purchase more reusable office supplies. Also, think twice before deeming an item obsolete. Sometimes, malfunctioning office equipment can be repaired or furniture pieces can be refurbished and given a chance at a second life. As for the objects that can’t be used anymore, look for recycling programs if you want to get rid of them.
The amount of paper used in office environments is staggering. Businesses have been using paper to organize and document information for decades, but we’ve come to realize that physical documents are neither the most reliable nor the most environmentally friendly option out there to manage information.
So, if you want to reduce your business’ carbon footprint and create a paperless office, you can start by determining your printing needs, investing in a scanner and familiarizing yourself with cloud-based applications. Then you can train your employees and make your clients aware of your digital switch. This will help you transition to a paper-free or paper-light office environment.
Making your business green is more than a trend. Embracing sustainable practices represents the natural evolution in the business world, as the need to address environmental concerns is more important now than ever. The sooner you start making the switch, the better for your business and the environment.