Consumers are becoming more eco-conscious than ever before, and are clearly demonstrating their preference for brands that use sustainable materials, production processes, and packaging. According to one study, 1 in 3 customers consider sustainability a crucial factor in determining where to shop.
Making your business more sustainable will not only allow you to do your bit for the planet, but it will also improve your brand image and help you to attract more clients.
However, it can be difficult to know where to start. With that in mind, here are six easy and effective ways to embrace sustainability in business and make your business eco-friendly.
Reduce your Energy Usage
The average business uses 15,000 to 25,000 kWh of electricity annually. It can be difficult to reduce your reliance on electronics or machinery, but lighting is one area which can be easy to slash your energy use. Aim to limit your use of artificial lighting and use natural sunlight to light your space instead. Natural light doesn’t only lower your electricity usage, but it’s also better for your employees’ mental and physical health.
If this isn’t feasible, equip your space with energy-efficient LED lamps or motion-sensitive lights that ensure you only use them when needed. You should also track your electricity usage and replace appliances that are using too much electricity unnecessarily with energy-efficient alternatives. Turning electronics off when not in use can make a big difference.
Consider Eco-friendly Packaging for more Sustainability in Business
Containers and packaging accounted for 82.2 million tons of waste sent to landfill in 2018. If your business uses plastic or single-use packaging, now is the perfect time to switch to green alternatives.
Eco-friendly packaging includes:
- Biodegradable packing peanuts, made from materials like wood pulp and corn starch
- Plastic containers that are recyclable, made from recycled materials, or preferably both
- Reusable containers, such as glass jars
You can encourage your customers to reuse the packaging your products come in, by making it fun and functional. By delivering your products in beautiful, practical containers, your customers will keep them for future use. Better still, include your company’s logo on your reusable packaging for a unique marketing opportunity.
Sustainability in business doesn’t end once you’ve manufactured and packaged your product. To be a truly sustainable business, it’s important to consider how you ship and deliver your products to your clients.
You can reduce your business’ carbon footprint by relying on greener shipping methods, as well as aiming to manufacture your products as close as possible to where your customer base is located. This way, the products will have less far to travel to reach your customer’s door, and will generate fewer emissions in the process. Equally, using local suppliers for your raw materials will reduce the carbon emissions your business generates.
Despite the growing trend for cloud and digital storage solutions, many offices still use paper. Using paper for communications, invoices, and recording client information is an outdated approach.
Instead, switching to digital storage and document management systems is more efficient, more cost-effective, more secure, and, most importantly, better for the environment. Using thousands of reams of paper feeds the wood-chipping industry, which has been linked to the destruction of old-growth forests, in turn destroying habitats and contributing to climate change.
For a greener approach, store your documents in the cloud and rely on digital communication methods like email.
Involve Your Employees in Sustainability in Business
Your business can’t go green without your employees’ support. It’s important to build a green culture in your workplace that involves every member of your team. One way to encourage a sustainable work culture is by allowing your team to work remotely. By eliminating the need to commute to the office, you’ll slash the amount of carbon emissions your staff produces.
Not to mention that employees tend to be more productive in a more flexible remote work environment. Another way to encourage sustainability in your team is to reward staff who take the initiative to be more eco-friendly. Reward your employees who walk or cycle to the office, bring reusable lunch boxes and coffee cups, and suggest eco-friendly ideas for your workplace.
Work with Green Suppliers
Sustainability starts with how you source your materials. It’s essential to do your due diligence and research how your suppliers source and ship the materials you buy from them. You should also consider their production processes, such as whether they use sustainable energy, and how their processes impact on the environment.
If possible, you should work with local suppliers. This will not only reduce your business’s carbon footprint, but it will also mean that you support your local economy.
The approaches listed above are just the start. There’s so much that businesses can do to not only limit their own impact on the environment, but also to promote sustainable practices and drive change in the business world, and the community more generally.