How To Make Your Small Business More Sustainable
Sustainability has become more than just a buzzword that businesses can use to entice customers and shine a positive light on their brand. It is now a call to action that businesses can be scrutinized for and questioned over.
It is such an important and continually growing concern for consumers that it is almost impossible for a business to find success if they are not doing something about it, i.e. making a visible effort to be more sustainable.
Beyond the corporate social responsibility that all businesses have, there should be a human and moral value that crosses over into the company ethics when it comes to being cruelty-free, ethically-sourced/made, eco-friendly, plastic-free etc.
Though their impact on the environment may not be as great, even small businesses should consider how they can be more sustainable because it does make a difference to the planet and, possibly, the success of the business.
By making an effort to embrace greener practices and processes, you will attract more eco-conscious customers, positive publicity and feel good knowing that you are having a positive impact on the planet.
It doesn't have to be an all-consuming, costly activity. There are a few minor changes that small businesses can make today to start their journey towards sustainability.
Though a lot can be said about technology, both good and bad, the benefits of it are undeniable especially when it comes to the role it plays in helping us reduce the amount of paper we use and waste.
You may have noticed over the last few years that most retailers and restaurants no longer print receipts and, instead, send them directly to their customers via email by asking for their details at the point-of-sale.
With receipts always ending up in a bin or littered on the floor (after spending a few days/weeks/months at the bottom of your bag or the corners of your pockets), and being sent to landfills, these plastic pollutants generate 1.5 billion pounds of waste in the UK ever year.
Another example of paperless business practices are the countless apps that allow us to sign documents digitally which means that we no longer need to print reams of paper just for the sake of signing something that will inevitably end up in the shredder.
All in all, not only does going paperless reduce the amount of trees that need to be cut down to supply us with the necessary material, but it can save on space, clutter and the time-consuming chore of shredding it all eventually.
Offer remote or hybrid working
One of the biggest changes that has occurred over the last year and a half as a direct result of Covid-19 is the flexibility that businesses are now offering their employees when it comes to location of work.
When we were in a full lockdown, we had no choice but to adapt and find ways to still get work done from the confines of our homes. This meant that many people set up home offices, invested in stationery and laptops and fell into a new routine that worked for them and, in most cases, it had little to no impact on their productivity at work and, in others, they actually saw a positive change.
During this period, we also witnessed a record drop in fossil carbon dioxide emissions by 2.4 billion tonnes – an achievement that was, in part, a result of fewer cars being driven on the roads as people no longer had to travel to and from work.
It has already been established that a third of all CO2 emissions from passenger transport comes from commuting which goes to show that giving employees the opportunity to work from home, even if it is for only one or two days a week, could go a way towards slowing down the damage that we are doing to the environment.
Cut down on energy usage
Small businesses should also assess their energy usage in the workplace and find ways to cut down. Not only will this help protect the planet, but it can be a huge cost-save for your business too.
One of the biggest energy consumers in most workplaces are electrical appliances, particularly computers and lights which are used all day and all year-round.
During spring and summer, it should be easy enough to make use of natural light if that is available to you for most of the day. However, if you don't have access to much natural light, you are working late or it's winter, then turning on the lights is almost unavoidable. But the part at which some fall short is remembering to turn them all off.
Be sure to insist that the last person to leave takes some time to ensure that all lights are turned off at the end of the day as well as computers and any other electrical devices that no longer need to be switched on.
Another energy waster are thermostats. Whether you are heating up the workplace during the colder weather or trying to stay cool with air conditioning during a heatwave, the workplace temperature can be a big point of contention as well as an energy consumer.
Although the workplace does need to fall within a specific temperature range for health and safety reasons, you should consider all options before turning the heat or the air conditioning on.
For example, try opening some windows, investing in low energy desk fans, gifting hot water bottles to your employees etc.
Use eco-friendly packaging
When it comes to impressing your customers with your eco-credentials, the first thing to consider is your packaging as this is tangible evidence that you can use to display your efforts towards sustainability.
If you are a small retailer that delivers physical products then think about the materials you are using to package your products and whether all of it is even necessary.
The most important thing is to cut down on, or completely eradicate, the use of plastic from your packaging and other non-essential waste.
Then start using recycled cardboard boxes, recyclable paper and organic cotton pouches and drawstring bags where appropriate.
Not only are these far more eco-friendly packaging alternatives that will satisfy the demands of a growing public outcry for more sustainability from businesses, these items are usually of a higher quality and reusable which provides an even better overall service to your customers.
We are a wholesale supplier of eco-friendly bags including reusable pouches that can be used for packing products such as jewellery, candles, soaps, cosmetics and hair products.
Support other green businesses
From your suppliers to your couriers, you should always closely assess those that you do work with to ensure that you are supporting sustainable businesses as much as possible.
For example, opt for the courier company that is taking active steps to reduce their carbon footprint over the one that isn’t even if it might cost a little more.
You can also take this a step further with some charitable work.
There are many amazing green causes that raise money to protect wildlife and the planet or for reforestation projects around the world.
You could financially support any one of them by donating a portion of your revenue each month, or by signing up to a project that allows you to plant a tree for every order you receive.
Keep your promotional products sustainable
Whether you are gifting your employees or marketing your business at an event, the custom printed products that you give away should be eco-friendly and ethically sourced too.
Promotional products are known to be wasteful especially when made using harmful materials such as plastic, and when made cheaply causing them to have a very short lifespan. This doesn't mean that you should completely abandon branded merchandise for events, giveaways or gifting, especially since they are an incredibly effective method of marketing.
Instead, emphasis should be put on creating sustainable promotional products that won't end up in the bin.
We can help with this.
We stock a range of quality, reusable bags including cotton totes, canvas shoppers and jute gift bags all of which are perfect for promotional purposes.
Our bags are made from sustainable materials and can be reused multiple times which makes them less wasteful, and we can even help you design the artwork for your promotional bags or custom print your branding onto them using one of our professional printing techniques.