Being socially and ethically responsible has become a global concern in recent years. Consumers are increasingly interested in buying products and services from businesses that operate in an environmentally friendly way. They’re willing to support them, even if it means paying more for what they provide.
If you’re a small business owner, it’s important to make sustainability a priority for your company. In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the best ways that you can achieve this.
Why Do Businesses Need To Be More Sustainable?
Scientists have begun to see the effects of climate change on our planet, and businesses are not immune to these effects. Droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events are becoming more common. In turn, they are costing businesses billions of dollars in damages each year. Ironically, it’s the businesses themselves that are often responsible for a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s encouraging to know that being more sustainable can actually save businesses money. As we shall see, they can save on their utility bills by being more energy-efficient. And by producing less waste, they can save on disposal costs.
Use Recycled Materials
It’s highly recommended that you use recycled materials for packaging and advertising. You can find recycled paper at most office supply stores, and you can use it for everything from wrapping paper to business cards. You can also use recycled plastic for things like signs and banners – and don’t forget about using recycled glass for bottles and jars.
The internet can provide you with a host of information on this subject. In terms of recyclable eco-friendly packaging, you can learn what it is, why we should use it, and the different types. There’s also advice about plant-based biodegradable packaging, compostable packaging material options, and applications for custom recyclable bags.
Recycling And Composting
Companies should be decisive in reducing the amount of waste they produce. This can be done by using less paper, cardboard, and plastic. They can also recycle the materials they do use. Employees should be encouraged to recycle at work. This can be done by providing recycling bins and bags, and making the process as easy as possible for everyone. The company can also partner with a local recycling center. They will probably be able to accept:
- Plastic bottles and containers
- Glass bottles and jars
- Aluminum cans
- Computers, TVs, and electronics
Another way to reduce waste is to start composting. This can be done with food scraps from the office kitchen or cafeteria. Employees can also be encouraged to bring in their own food scraps from home. The company can then partner with a local composting facility.
Some specific items include:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Shredded paper
Implement Energy-Saving Measures
This can be achieved by buying new windows and doors and insulating your walls and ceilings to reduce heat loss. You can reduce water consumption in your small business by fixing leaks, installing low-flow toilets, and using drought-resistant plants. Modern white goods such as dishwashers and fridges are designed to use less electricity, so perhaps it’s time to replace yours. Switching to LED lighting is another great way to save energy. They use less electricity and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Standby buttons are the little red or green dots you see on things like TVs, microwaves, and music speakers. They’re designed to put your appliance into a low-power mode while you’re not using them. Sadly they waste electricity so it’s better to switch these devices off at the wall while they’re unused. Additionally, you should train your staff to turn off all lights when they’re not required. These measures will help you save money on your energy bills, as well as reduce your carbon footprint.
Use Green Power Sources
Solar panels are devices that capture sunlight and convert it into electricity. They can be used to power your home or business and can reduce your reliance on fossil fuels. Wind turbines are usually mounted on tall towers and can generate large amounts of electricity. Hydropower is a renewable energy source that uses moving water to generate electricity.
You can also purchase green electricity from your local utility company. This will be using the sources we’ve just mentioned. All of these measures can help you reduce your reliance on fossil fuels, and can directly impact your utility bills.
Improve Work Transport
One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to make your commute more sustainable. Walking or cycling is a great way to do this, and it’s also good for your health. You could even start a workplace walking or cycling group to encourage others to do the same. If the commute is too far, however, look into taking public transportation or carpooling with colleagues.
You could also consider switching to a hybrid or electric work vehicle. They are becoming more and more popular (and financially viable), and there are many government incentives available to encourage their use.
Reduce Paper Waste
A paperless office is a work environment where the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced. This type of office relies heavily on electronic documents (for billing and statements) and storage, rather than using paper documents that need to be kept in filing cabinets. This will help save trees and reduce your physical storage requirements. Cloud technology enables you to store, access, and edit documents that are kept on external servers, and it’s definitely worth looking into for your small business.
If you do need to print things, use both sides of the paper (which will help you save money and paper). Simply set your printer settings to “double-sided printing” before you print your documents.
It’s also wise to educate your staff to lead sustainable lives, both in the workplace and at home. Once you’ve put some of these changes into place, you can market your business as being eco-friendly and sustainable. In return for all your hard work, you’ll be able to save money, benefit the environment, and increase sales from socially responsible customers.
Photo via Unsplash
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