Sustainability is a growing issue, and in 2021 more than ever we need to be focusing on how to become more environmentally-friendly. It’s not just individuals that need to do this but also businesses – both big and small. If you own a small business then you might be wondering what you can do to lessen your impact on the environment and become more sustainable. There are loads of great sustainable business practices, and the following six techniques are a good place to start.
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Focus on waste reduction
The first step to become sustainable is looking at how much waste you produce. Most likely, there’s more than there needs to be! Unfortunately for the planet, waste creation is hard to avoid in the modern day, and reducing said waste can seem like a lot of effort.
It doesn’t have to be, though! Start by looking at how much you throw away, and see what can be salvaged or recycled from there. If you create clothing, how can you use the offcuts? If you’re an artist, then which resources can you reuse rather than throwing away? Or if you own a business like a café then how can you reduce single-use items such as takeaway coffee cups? Set yourself a goal to cut your waste by a certain amount each week and keep track of it until it becomes habit.
Source local and sustainable products and ingredients
Consumers are becoming more and more interested in sustainable products, with a greater focus on products that are locally-produced and eco-friendly in some way. Cheap, mass-produced items shipped from halfway across the world are starting to become less appealing as people are realising the damage they do to the environment.
Because of this, opting for sustainable and local ingredients and products not only makes your business more environmentally friendly, but can also increase your client base. If you buy in local ingredients then you’re supporting other businesses around you whilst reducing CO2 emissions. Sustainable ingredients such as recycled paper and materials produced using carbon-neutral methods also reduce the impact your business has on the environment. Happy customers and happy planet!
Use eco-friendly packaging and delivery options
One of the biggest unsustainable practices, especially with online businesses, is packaging and delivery. It’s not something that you can avoid (unless you’re willing to deliver every single product by hand… I thought not!) but there are certainly ways to make the process more eco-friendly.
Environmentally-friendly packaging is thankfully becoming easier to source now. Instead of using single-use containers and unrecyclable tape, it’s relatively simple to switch to something better for the planet. Firstly, you can choose fully recyclable postal boxes and adhesives/fasteners to reduce your impact. There are also eco-friendly versions of styrofoam for inside your packages, such as recycled tissue paper and even a non-plastic version that dissolves in water! And delivery can also be made more sustainable – opt for delivery services that have a commitment to reducing their environmental impact, and try and post packages in bulk to reduce your overall carbon footprint.
Make your workspace sustainable
Like with your products and packaging, chances are that you can also make your workspace more sustainable. Think about the tools and equipment you use on a daily basis… Can eco-friendly alternatives be used instead? Can you repair and reuse rather than buy new and throw away once they stop working? Or perhaps some environmentally unfriendly processes can be scrapped entirely?
Also look at the location and logistics of your workspace. If your office or workshop is far away then consider using public transport or cycling to get to it. Or better still, you could look into setting up a workspace at home (if possible). You can also think about things like heating, lighting, and other energy used. Switch to renewable energy where possible, and only consume it when needed. Much like inside your own house, there are a multitude of different ways to reduce energy consumption and do your bit for the environment.
Go digital where possible
One of the easiest sustainable business practices to adopt is to switch to digital methods wherever you can. If you run an online business then you’re most likely doing this already! If not, consider an online shop rather than a physical store, and use digital versions of receipts and contracts wherever you can. You can easily digitise your marketing strategy, and it’s a good idea to utilise email and text communication over letters and so on.
Also think about what you can digitise behind the scenes. You might do a lot of printing, but in some cases this might not be necessary. If you create content then opt for digital options such as ebooks, e-magazines, and online guides and articles. And there’s no need to store everything in a filing cabinet when you can easily use a cloud service instead. Even small things, like taking notes on your phone rather than using a physical notebook, can make an impact.
Finally, getting certified as a green business is a great way to become more eco-friendly. There are a number of different certifications in the UK, from Investors in the Environment to Green Mark. Both of these help direct your company towards sustainable business practices and move away from harmful processes and habits. By joining as a member and making the right changes, you can gain accreditation that can be displayed as proof of your commitment to the planet.
These accreditations are really good for small businesses. Not only are they a great way to attract eco-conscious customers and get ahead of your competitors, but they also encourage others to look at their environmental impact! Audits run on your business can show you where you’re going wrong and help you to implement sustainable alternatives so that you know you’re doing the right thing.
If you’re a small business owner, what sustainable business practices have you adopted? Share below, and don’t forget to like and pin if you enjoyed this post! You might also like these other articles focused around sustainability: