Being a sustainable business doesn’t mean you have to have a greenhouse on the roof where you grow every single material you use. Although if you do, that’s great! Running a sustainable business is a lot about making small changes and focusing on the things you know you can work towards.
Here are some ways you can become a more sustainable business, even if it just means making small changes.
1. Have a more efficient process.
This may sound like more of a project management tip, but an efficient process can help your business be more sustainable. Think about it. When things aren’t moving along efficiently, you’re spending more time, more energy, more resources on one project, which really can add up over time. Maybe it’ll save paper, save commute time, save electricity, anything helps when you’re trying to incorporate more sustainable business practices.
2. Educate, educate, educate.
It’s all well and good to tell employees you’re going to be more sustainable, but educating them on how each initiative can help you reach your sustainability is an important step. By doing this you’re inviting them into the conversation and giving them the ability to look for ways to help. Education also goes for your customers. No one wants to be lectured of course, but explaining how and why your business is choosing to be more sustainable lets your customers know they’re helping do their part. Flyers, emails, and posters around your store can help start a conversation on sustainability not only in your business, but in everyday life.
3. Ask questions.
If you’re buying from suppliers frequently, ask them about their sustainability practices. If you’re not satisfied, start shopping around. It’s great for your store or location to be sustainable, but if your suppliers aren’t doing their part then it lessens your impact. Always be asking questions about how you can improve your sustainability practices, both in your store and in the entire process of your business.
4. Let your employees work from home.
Working from home used to be seen as a fancy way of saying “I’m taking a day off but I guess you can email me if you need me.” However, the last year taught us that working from home can actually be an effective way to do your job, especially when you have full support of your company. Working from home is a sustainable business practice that’s relatively easy to enforce (depending on the type of business you run), and can help cut down on your business’ environmental impact.
“There will be less electricity used, a reduction in individual carbon footprints thanks to no commute, and fewer office supplies used [so less waste],” says Phil Foster, chief executive of Love Energy Savings.
5. Pick a single cause.
Yes, we all want to help the environment in any way we can, but there are so many different areas for businesses to improve, it can be overwhelming to even know where to start. If you’re trying to make your small business more sustainable, start by picking one single cause. Maybe you want to reduce the amount of paper you use, maybe you want to reduce your emissions, maybe you want to clean up your community (yes, that counts!). Pick one single cause and focus all your energy (ha, get it?) on that. Once you really get a good thing going with the one cause, you can start to incorporate another one. Essentially, don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s easy to get discouraged when you try to save the world in a week, so maybe just start by saving the little garden in your front yard, yknow?
No one said running a sustainable business would be easy, but there are small ways you can make a difference.