It has been proven that converting a business into a more environmentally-conscious brand is good for your customers, employees, and your company itself. Here some easy strategies you should implement right now to thrive in this new economy.
Global warming, ozone depletion, greenhouse effect, climate change, sea-level rise – these aren’t just buzzwords of the 21st century. These are real environmental problems threatening our planet and civilization. Yet, not too many entrepreneurs focus on building sustainable and environmentally-friendly business practices.
Here’s the thing – swapping plastic straws for metal ones or carrying a reusable cup to Starbucks isn’t enough. As a business owner, you need to implement suitable measures to minimize the ecological impact of your organization.
Why your business should prioritize sustainability?
It is essential considering that running full-fledged office results in a significantly high carbon footprint. Apart from the lofty energy consumption, your employees and you also generate a plethora of waste that ends up in the landfill.
From paper towels and single-use coffee cups to printed sales reports and excess food – your office likely churns out a huge amount of waste every day. This doesn’t just affect the environment; it also results in more expensive overheads.
Thus, adopting eco-friendly business practices can go a long way to optimize your operational costs. Also, working for an eco-aware and sustainable business will help boost employee morale and productivity. It’ll also help you attract new talent from driven and more environmentally conscious millennials.
These aren’t the only benefits of making your business environmentally-friendly. A recent study shows that 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada believe that it’s important for a brand to be sustainable.
Also, roughly 66% of consumers in the U.S. have an affinity towards sustainable and eco-friendly brands. They’re even willing to pay a higher price for recycled products and improve shopping habits to minimize their environmental impact.
Thus, focusing on sustainable business practices creates a win-win situation for all involved parties – your potential customers, employees, and you. Ultimately, it amplifies your revenue, as well as strengthens your brand image and reputation.
Now that you know the awesome benefits of making your business eco-friendly, you must be eager to get started. It’s now time for us to take a look at a few effective measures every entrepreneur can implement to reduce the environmental impact of their business.
Steps to making your company sustainable & eco-friendly
1. Get an energy audit
Minimizing energy consumption is one of the key areas that baffles most business owners. The first step is to contact your local or state government for an extensive energy audit of your workplace. The auditor will inspect your premises, analyze your energy consumption, and suggest relevant methods to reduce it.
The purpose of an energy audit is to help you devise simple and cost-effective ways to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint. Most state or local governments also have policies in place to help businesses implement the auditor’s recommendations at no additional cost.
2. Upgrade your infrastructure
If you’re still using outdated infrastructure at the workplace, your business will struggle to attain sustainability despite your efforts. Simple changes, such as installing a programmable thermostat and sensor-based automatic bulb holder, can go a long way to increase energy savings.
Likewise, you should consider utilizing various renewable energy sources. For instance, you can get solar panels installed to power your workplace on bright and sunny days. While solar panels won’t entirely replace the need for conventional electricity, they’ll help reduce the load on the grid supply.
It is, however, crucial to check the weather before installing any devices to harness any form of renewable energy. This is because renewable energy sources, such as the wind and sun, are weather-dependent. The last thing you want is to stall your operations because of zero power supply on a gloomy overcast day.
It’s a good idea to use an accurate and hyperlocal weather forecast service to keep backup energy sources ready for unfavorable weather conditions.
3. Focus on waste reduction
This is an extensive process that requires a change in your organization’s culture and mindset. The first step is to replace single-use coffee cups with reusable cups. Despite the initial investment, it’ll prove to be more cost-effective in the long run.
Likewise, you can replace other common sources of waste, such as disposable plates, glasses, cutlery, and straws, with their reusable counterparts. Even if you’d like to keep the provision of single-use utilities, make sure they can be recycled. Don’t forget to install recycle bins at key locations across the workplace.
Next, you should implement appropriate steps to reduce food wastage. Issue guidelines advising employees to avoid taking excess servings at the cafeteria. Also, collaborate with a local non-profit organization to give extra food to the needy. Oz Harvest in Australia is a great example!
It’s just as important to minimize the use of paper and paper products at the workplace. For instance, you could encourage employees to send reports, bills, invoices, etc. via email instead of printing them. Also, use post-consumer paper to ensure that all your printed materials can be recycled.
4. Modify your operations
Changing the way your business operates can be instrumental in controlling its environmental impact. Simple modifications, such as relaxing the dress-code in summers, can result in significant energy savings. Likewise, letting employees work from home one day a week, for example, can help reduce wastage and energy consumptions at the workplace.
Another important aspect is to digitalize your systems and implement a printing policy. Switching to more eco-friendly stationery or recycle your cartridges definitely makes a difference and reduces the environmental footprint of your company
Packaging waste makes up one-third of what is delivered to landfills each year, therefore looking into eco-friendly suppliers for your product packaging is a must!
5. Integrate sustainability into the company culture
Lastly, it’s important to make sustainability and environmental protection an integral part of your company culture. Instead of forcing your employees to adopt sustainable work practices, motivate them with incentives for doing so.
Likewise, you can organize various challenges and contests to encourage employees to produce less waste. You can even offer additional incentives to employees who ride their bikes or car-pool to reach the workplace. These simple initiatives can go a long way to boost employee motivation and create a more eco-friendly work culture.
What strategies are you using to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.