Sustainable, eco-friendly, and green are major business drawcards at the moment. As a smaller business, you can feel that there’s no way you can compete with larger retailers, not meet the customer demand for greener business practices. There’s a ton you can do, however, to make your business a planet-friendly drawcard for eco-conscious customers. Today we’ve rounded up some top tips to help.
Why Sustainability Matters
Green business practices, including fair trade, eco-friendly, and sustainable products and supply chains, have come to be an important selling point to consumers. Intriguingly, the stats tell us that this applies across a wide range of shoppers, no matter their age, income level, and other demographics. Likewise, consumers are no longer asking businesses to cater to this trend, but choosing to vote with their cash and avoid businesses with wasteful practices and poor control over their supply lines.
For the modern business, it’s become a matter of keeping up, or losing out. Clients are willing to build brand loyalty with flexible and engaged partners making the same planet-aiding steps they want. Even a willingness to show progress and effort towards these goals can be rewarded, as you bring in more customers whose interests align with your ethos. As a smaller business, how do you compete and reduce your environmental impact?
Greening Your Entire Business
While there’s considerable focus on brand partners and supply chains, your sustainability efforts don’t end with just them. How you supply your office, what stationery and toilet paper you’re using, and a lot more goes into a truly eco-conscious business. Can you bring in non-disposable dining in your canteen or kitchen? Do you support an eco-friendly cleaning range? Are your printers using recycled paper?
Pod-using coffee machines, in particular, are a wasteful practice, yet found commonly in business. Filter coffee is greener, and likely cheaper too, without sacrificing staff satisfaction. Add a recycling bin to the breakroom, and establish a partnership with a recycler who can collect and process it. Businesses can even look to practices like composting, too. There’s a common misconception that because something is organic, it isn’t harmful in a landfill. To the contrary, it’s a slow and inefficient process, where direct composting can create a helpful end product from organic waste directly and in quick time. If you happen to be in the food industry, you can green your business immensely just through better handling of organic waste.
And don’t feel it’s all on your shoulders, either. Engage meaningfully with your staff to help you. Can they use both sides of paper? Use those recycling bins? And so on.
Also look to the end lifecycle of your office equipment. From laptops to mobiles, there’s an increasing focus on the damage electronic byproducts do environmentally. Additionally, we’re running out of some of the key minerals that go into creating these gadgets, and many mining practices are incredibly harmful. Try partnering with an e-waste recycling firm to better manage their disposal- and who knows, you can even get a little cash back to invest in those sweet new upgrades!
Allow Remote Work
The post-pandemic era is one where the focus on work-from-home and hybrid working solutions has boomed. Versatile and adaptable across a variety of industries, remote work is also surprisingly good for the planet. As well as encouraging better work-life balance for team members, axing the smog of their daily commutes has an immense environmental impact. With a lower carbon footprint from staff, boosted productivity, and a better drawcard to attract new talent, it’s a solution that works on many levels.
Even if your staff have to be in-house to work, you can still encourage better travel practices that help the planet. From offering incentives for the use of public transit, to making it easier for cycling and walking commuters, green options are in.
Examine your Packaging
Wasteful packaging practices have also become a focus of the sustainability movement, and it’s one where you can both opt eco-friendly and reduce your own costs, too. However, it’s one that’s been offset a little by the online shopping boom. The need for extra packaging and padding can be immensely detrimental to the planet- but not if you’re using recycled cardboard and paper packaging options. These are often cheaper than the standard plastics and polystyrenes.
Additionally, consider your product’s end packaging. There’s a surprisingly luxurious range of eco-friendly and recycled options out there you can use to boost your brand profile as an engaged and concerned retailer, including compostable packaging. Many of these can be creatively leveraged to provide a great sensory experience for the customer, without harming the planet.
Go Energy Efficient
Another arena in which you and the planet can benefit is energy efficiency. From using double glazing options to keep energy loss through glass low, to switching to low consumption light bulbs like LEDs, you’ll soon see a knock-on impact on your bills, too. Introducing natural light sources to your premises is a win-win too. Not only does this reduce expenditure on energy, but it creates a friendlier and happier working environment.
Look at the energy ratings of onsite machines and appliances, too. Again, you can expect a reduced bill, and a healthier planet, from the deal. Even something as simple as using laptops over PCs can help.
Surprisingly, the digital space is another place where eco-friendly practices matter. Data centers and web/cloud hosts, as well as offsite backup partners, can use immense amounts of electricity. Many of these same firms, however, are investing in carbon-neutral practices, and by teaming up with them, you lower your own carbon footprint, too.
Likewise, be selective in your choices of partners and vendors. If everyone is working to the same goals, it’s easier to create a seamless supply chain with a focus on sustainable practices. You’ll likely be supporting local business, too, and developing a valuable network of like-minded businesses.
Sadly, modern business methods are a huge driver of climate change, pollution, and the looming waste and e-waste crises. No matter how small you are, making little changes that can have a huge impact will help save you immediate costs, and help the planet as part of the wider picture. If it empowers you to onboard clients interested in sustainable businesses, so much the better! Not only are you keeping up with competitors, you’re helping safeguard the future- and that’s a win for everyone.