There’s no denying that environmental problems such as climate change, global warming, pollution, or deforestation have become rampant in recent years and require urgent attention. It’s just as obvious that large businesses and corporations are a big part of the problem. According to research, 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of global greenhouse emissions, which means they also hold the key to solving these issues and making the necessary changes to restore the health of the planet.
However, just because these companies are the main culprits for the current state of the environment doesn’t mean that smaller businesses are exempt from any responsibility. Therefore, they should also play their part in reducing the negative impact that humans have on the environment and protecting the planet.
However, walking the path to sustainability as a small business owner is not easy, given the lack of knowledge in the area usually doubled by a lack of resources which some entrepreneurs believe might worsen after introducing sustainable practices. But the truth is that, as daunting as it may be in the beginning, creating and growing a sustainable business is not out of reach. What’s more, embracing sustainability has become a determining factor for business success; it’s past the point of being an option and is more of an imperative these days.
So, if you’re still not sure how you can integrate sustainability into your business strategy, this guide is for you.
Get educated on sustainability
One of the greatest barriers to turning sustainability into a reality is the confusion that often surrounds the concept. For many entrepreneurs, sustainability remains nothing more than a buzzword that doesn’t mean much. So, the first thing you have to do is gain a solid understanding of what business sustainability implies.
Sustainability in businesses refers to ensuring responsible and ethical operations by employing adequate practices and methods in order to minimise the negative impact on the environment, the community where the business is based, and society as a whole. While sustainability may require some sort of investment, it’s a long-term strategy that benefits both the planet and your business, as it can lead to better recruitment, improved brand image, and increased productivity which all translate into higher profits. Therefore, there’s no reason to believe that sustainability will negatively impact your business budget.
It’s also important to understand that there’s no one size fits all solution to turn your business green. Sustainability can be achieved in many different ways, so you have to assess your current business practices, identify the areas where you could bring improvements, and find opportunities to make these improvements happen. That will help you carve out an efficient strategy that works for your business.
Replace disposables with reusables
Sometimes, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference, and that also holds true when it comes to business sustainability. The widespread use of single-use items is something that plagues many businesses. Disposables have become a common site in office environments due to their convenience and relatively low prices, but they’re definitely not doing any favours to the planet. Plastic bags and bottles, single-use coffee cups, cutlery, straws, or takeaway containers are just some examples of items that many businesses use on a daily basis and end up in the already overcrowded landfills.
Reducing the amount of trash that goes to landfills by replacing single-use items with reusables is a good place to start your sustainability journey. From switching to reusable coffee cups to using recycled paper, every change in this direction will help reduce your business’ carbon footprint.
Get better at managing waste
No matter how much you try to recycle and keep waste to a minimum, eliminating it completely is next to impossible. There will always be some amount of waste resulting from your business operations. But while zero waste might remain an aspirational concept for now, you can work towards improving your waste management practices.
For that, you need to look at the amount and type of waste that your company produces on the regular and come up with the most efficient method to handle it. For example, if your business generates large amounts of cardboard waste, the solution is a cardboard compactor that can compress cardboard into bales for storage or transport. This will help you save space on-site, improve your recycling, create an extra source of revenue, and handle cardboard waste in a more efficient manner.
Reduce energy consumption
With the depletion of natural resources, the need to reduce energy usage has become increasingly more important. Businesses are obviously big energy consumers, regardless of size or industry, so they can make a huge impact if they make energy conservation part of their sustainability efforts.
The best methods you can employ to reduce energy use and costs include investing in energy-efficient equipment and appliances, programming your thermostats, powering down equipment at the end of the day, or taking advantage of natural sunlight. Making these changes will benefit your business tremendously, as it will greatly reduce energy costs, and the environment, as it reduces the demand for fossil fuels and lowers carbon emissions.
Get employees on board with sustainability
You can’t build a sustainable business all by yourself. You might have the will and the determination to turn your business green, but if you don’t have the support of your employees, all your efforts will be in vain. The simple truth is that sustainability requires a team effort, so before you decide to walk down this path you have to make sure your team members are on the same page as you.
That means you have to educate your employees on sustainability matters and provide adequate training in this respect. The only way you can convince your staff to care about sustainability and get actively involved in the process is by helping them understand what it involves and what are the benefits it provides. Once you’ve gotten everyone on board, there’s nothing that can stop you from reaching your sustainability goals.