If you’re living in the 21st century, then you’ll have a good idea of how important building and maintaining a sustainable business is. However, it can be difficult to do this when your business is already established. It’s not impossible, though; you just have to commit to making sustainable changes and you should find that not only do your business processes improve and become more sustainable, you actually save money.
With that in mind, here are 13 ways to create a more sustainable business – fast.
#1: Work With Sustainable Suppliers
Start by making sure that the suppliers you’re working with are sustainable too. When you work with sustainable suppliers for your business needs, your sustainable efforts can have double the impact. Make sure each supplier and partner you work with has their own sustainability policy and that they are taking this very seriously.
#2: Cut Back on Packaging
Cutting back on packaging is another great option if you’re looking to become more sustainable. Take a look at your current packaging and assess what could be improved. Could you cut out some of the process so that you’re not using so many resources? There’s nothing worse than opening a huge box as a consumer to be presented with something tiny inside. It just doesn’t make sense. See if there’s a way you can streamline your packaging!
#3: Go Paperless
Going paperless may not be 100% possible if you need to print for whatever reason. However, printing to excess and with reckless abandon should be avoided. You can use certain software to help your endeavour. You can see how DocuWare helps you go paperless as a good example. Cut back on printing unless it’s an absolute necessity, and take other measures, like using recycled ink and paper and always printing double sided. Using prints you don’t need as scrap paper should help you to cut back on waste, too.
#4: Cut Down on Days in the Office
Getting people to come into the office 5 days a week when it isn’t necessary can be wasteful. You’re using lots of resources having people come in, both your own and theirs. If you can cut back even just one day and have people work remotely, it’ll be great for the sustainability of your business. Not only that, you might even find that it improves employee satisfaction.
#5: Avoid Plastic
If you can avoid plastic, then do so. At the very least, only use recycled plastic and plastic that can be recycled. Avoid plastic in your packaging, in your product, and any other way you can. For the most part, plastic usage is not sustainable and many people are avoiding it now anyway. This may mean that if you continue to use plastic in your business, you may become less appealing to those who are trying to be more environmentally friendly.
Look at things you can reuse in your business and come up with ideas. Is there anything you can do instead of throwing certain items away? Can you sell off imperfect items as seconds or in a cheaper mixed box so that they don’t go to waste? Not all businesses will be able to do this, but many modern businesses do it and have success. For instance, clothing and jewelry seconds, and boxes of wonky veg that nobody would usually buy if they were shopping as normal. Finding ways to market these items sustainably should attract some attention from those who want to help the planet.
#7: Buy Second Hand
Rather than buying brand new when you need something, see if you can buy second hand. You could look into purchasing a second hand computer chair, computer, or something else that you need for your business. Buying brand new can be exciting and sometimes necessary, and many get the added benefit of writing it off as a business expense. However, buying second hand is so much better for the planet and will nearly always be better for your wallet. You’ll end up with an item that works just as well (providing you read the fine print and check it over first) and all for a fraction of the price.
#8: Buy Refurbished Equipment
Look into buying refurbished equipment if you need equipment that you can trust will work for the foreseeable. These items have had homes already but have been updated by professionals to ensure that they are working as best they possibly can and that there are no faults. If you don’t want to go ahead and buy a second hand computer from a random seller, for example, a refurbished computer from a reliable company could be the way to go.
#9: Make Sure Everyone Is on the Same Page
You can’t do this alone. You need to make sure that everybody involved with your business is on the same page, no matter how big or small your business is. Everybody should be in alignment so you can feel confident that your business is doing all it can to be more sustainable and make a positive impact on the planet. How can you do this?
- Have a meeting – pointless meetings should be avoided where possible, but it’s worth having a meeting about this so everybody knows it’s important and so that they can ask questions if they need to.
- Put up reminders – dot friendly reminders around, for instance, recycle reminders near bins.
- Lead by example.
- Don’t forget about your cleaners – they should be sustainable, too.
- Remove individual bins to reduce the temptation to just throw things away.
- Offer recycling incentives.
#10: Do a Course in Sustainability
There are courses in sustainability you could do to make sure you’re doing absolutely everything you can. These courses could be company-wide if you want to be sure that they are as effective as possible and that you’re all learning together. You’ll all likely pick up on a few things that you wouldn’t have known otherwise!
#11: Encourage Carpooling
Encourage carpooling between employees to help the planet and reduce carbon emissions. A huge percentage of car journeys are single occupancy, even though cars can usually seat 5 or 6 people. There are numerous ways you can encourage carpooling, such as:
- Free or designated car park spaces for those who share rides.
- Guarantee a ride home – some people don’t like to walk, bike or carpool to work in case they need to leave for a big emergency. After all, you never know what is around the corner. However, you could ease their minds with this by offering a ‘guaranteed ride home policy’. If it’s a genuine emergency, you can provide a certain number of free rides home a year if they really need one. This should ease their fears about carpooling and ensure people are saving the planet.
#12: Offer Bonuses and Rewards
Another thing you can do is offer bonuses and rewards for those who carpool or even bike or walk to work. Now, there are many ways you can look at doing this. Obviously you’re going to need to make sure that these employees are actually arriving as they say they are. You could then base their bonuses on the percentage of days they arrive this way. It could be a monetary bonus, or prize based bonuses. It all depends on what is going to not only work best for your business, but what is going to motivate your employees in the best way. Make sure they are excited by the rewards, or they won’t feel compelled to change their behaviour at all!
#13: Encourage Healthy Snacks and Meals
Make sure you’re also encouraging healthy snacks and meals in the workplace. Vegetarian and vegan meals, even if only eaten occasionally over meat based meals, can make a difference to the planet. Meat consumption uses a lot of resources and many people think they need to eat meat with every meal, but this is not the case. To help, you need to make sure you give people options in the workplace when it comes to ordering food and grabbing a snack. Treating people to lunch every so often is a good idea, too. Not only is it good for morale and motivation, you can also introduce them to vegetarian and vegan options and show them that sustainable meals without meat can be delicious and feel like a treat, too!
Creating a more sustainable business is not going to be an easy feat for an established business, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The above 13 ways give you plenty of opportunities to make changes, so take a look and see what you can implement first to see results quickly. This is a process, though, so remember that it will still take some time before you notice solid results. The time will pass anyway, so make sure you start now. Remember, your employees may actually have their own ideas on how you can become more sustainable, so don’t hesitate to ask them and implement their feedback. This should also go a long way to improve their satisfaction!