There is little argument not to support sustainability and the environment, whether you’re running a small business or a multinational corporation. It’s not only the right thing to do for the planet, but it also directly affects sales.
People are now voting with their wallets. According to a Sendle survey, 57% of consumers have reassessed their purchasing choices based on a company’s green credentials. To 75% of respondents, sustainability is classed as an important issue.
Many business owners erroneously believe that creating sustainable practices within the business just isn’t cost-effective. But you’ll find that there are several simple ways you can support earth’s cause that not only cost little but can actually help your business.
Work with Local Charities
Partnering with charities in your local area is an excellent way to establish a positive change in your community without having to start from scratch. SkyCity’s approach to sustainability does exactly that. This way, you can leverage their expertise to support their existing framework, helping charities do what they do best.
Partnerships can have different faces. For example, you may find that some of your employees are keen to get involved. Why not let them take a day every month to help a cause? For example, many charities need volunteers for one-off tasks, like planting trees or removing plastic from natural areas.
Create a Sustainable Work Culture
Your green initiatives will have a greater impact if you can embed a sustainability culture in the workplace. Have conversations about the planet, absorb input from your employees, and help foster social norms that are helpful to the environment.
Ask yourself this question: what tools and initiatives help (or even hinder) an individual’s ability to behave in a sustainable manner? Create policies that promote green initiatives, and actively help employees achieve these.
For example, you can give employees access to existing training on sustainable practices. This may take the form of an online course or attending a relevant conference. The key is ensuring you do this on a regular basis, reminding employees of how best to keep to sustainable practices.
Offer Remote Work Options
In April 2020, the sudden need to offer WFH to employees resulted in a reduction of 17% in global CO2 emissions. That makes sense, right? The commute is no longer a thing, taking cars off the road and minimizing the need for public transport.
Further, there are both human and business reasons for offering remote work to your employees. Research has shown that it leads to increased productivity, with employees working over four hours more every single week. Companies are also able to attract the best talent, considering workers generally prefer WFH. And let’s not forget the long-term savings of moving to a smaller office.
What About Your Supply Chain?
Being green isn’t just about what happens on your shop floor or office, sourcing materials in a sustainable way is also a key facet of the process. Do you know how your vendors procure materials? Ask yourself whether they have a positive environmental footprint, or whether you need to go elsewhere.
You may also want to consider reducing your overall consumption. You may find there are ways to lower your environmental footprint whilst also saving your business a substantial amount of money.
Recycle > Reuse > Reduce
Companies are still far too wasteful. In the first instance, make sure that you have a smooth recycling process. Many companies offer green bins for recycling, but actually have absolutely no idea about whether they’re doing it correctly. Depending on your local council, for example, certain plastics may not be accepted. Or you need to put glass separately from aluminum.
Next, reuse where possible. And if at all possible, reduce your overall use of materials like single-use plastic and paper. Ask yourself whether emails really need to be printed, or if the staff bar should be selling coffee in takeaway cups.
Measure Your Footprint
To reduce your footprint, you first need to know where you stand. Use a carbon calculator, for example, to get to some form of reliable estimate. You may think that your company’s effect on the environment isn’t so bad. You may be shocked by the actual carbon footprint of your business.
Once you know your actual impact on the environment, start with actionable steps that are low barrier/cost and provide the greatest positive effect. Even the smallest changes can build to make a big positive impact.
Aim for Net Zero!
Countries like the UK are aiming to achieve net zero by 2050. It is likely that such policies will have direct consequences for your business, so why not get a head start?
Our final advice is to aim for net zero where possible. It may not be achievable this year or even next, but make it part of your sustainability goals. You may start slow, but you’ll find that snowball effect over time.
Once you have exhausted all realistic options, consider offsetting your remaining emissions. You can do this by supporting sustainable charities that offset carbon emissions, such as reforestation projects.
You will see that making these changes will not only give you the feeling of doing the right thing, but they will also result in positive change for your business. Your reputation will improve, employees will be happier, and you will save money in the long run.