There are several great reasons why every business should strive to operate sustainably. Firstly, it’s mostly a money-saver. Using sustainable resources and processes might take some upfront investment, but it reduces your costs in the long run. Secondly, it’s great for PR. There’s an excellent chance that your target audience will think better of you if you go green.
Lastly, but far from least significantly, it’s good for the environment that sustains us. Cutting down on waste is something everyone should be striving to do, and the best time to act is now. To that end, here are some tips for making your small business more sustainable:
Make your business travel more efficient
Since we’re still in the midst of a pandemic that seems set to plague us (both literally and figuratively) for a long time yet, business travel, in general, has gone down significantly — and we’ll touch upon one of the key reasons why in the next section. Even so, many companies still need to travel quite extensively, whether because they’re transporting goods or can’t achieve their goals without in-person activity (as is the case with some service-based operations).
If you need to take a lot of journeys, you should use public transport wherever possible, as trains and buses are more economical overall — those services will run regardless of your involvement, after all. And when you can’t avoid driving, give all your employees fuel cards (iCompario has a useful guide) so you can more easily track how much fuel you’re getting through for each selected route. Over time, you can adjust your routes to reduce fuel use.
Stop renting a traditional office
The biggest reason why business travel has gone down is that professionals have been required to work from home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now that commuting is something only some people need to bother with, the roads are quieter, fuel emissions are down, and money is being saved. But many business owners are stubborn and want to keep their offices.
They envision a time when we don’t need to worry about infection and can just go back to normal. Here’s the thing, though: even if such a time does arrive, there probably won’t be much sense in returning to the old way of doing things. Remote working is just as productive in general, and you can save a lot of money by not renting an office. So don’t go back.
Reduce your use of electricity
Getting rid of your office will certainly help reduce your energy use, but you should also ensure that everyone in your company is aware of simple ways in which they can use less power. They can let in as much natural light as possible so they don’t need to turn on bulbs, ensure that their computers (work computers and personal computers) and other tech devices are powered down when not in use, and generally pay attention to when and why their energy use spikes.
Staying out of an office with omnipresent artificial lighting and countless associated energy costs is the biggest thing you can do here. Anything else you can do on top of that will merely provide icing for the top of the cake.
Commit to recycling and packaging reduction
Businesses shouldn’t just buy in bulk because it saves time and lowers costs. They should also do it because it can (should) reduce packaging waste. How many times have you bought one small item that was shrink-wrapped for no clear reason? It happens all the time, and it’s hugely damaging (not to mention inconvenient to open).
Look through all your business expenses, including everything you spend on food and company supplies, and see if you’re buying single-use products that can’t be recycled. Whenever possible, buy things you can use multiple times, and that have packaging that can be recycled. You’ll need to pay more for this, but it’s worth it.
There are great selfish and altruistic reasons for making your business more sustainable, so you should get started on it as soon as possible — and the tips we’ve set out here should help you make some positive changes.