When you think of the purpose of a business, one of the first things that may come to mind is profit. However, the narrative is beginning to change with the emergence of green movements and greater awareness of the importance of environmental preservation. As a result, more businesses are being held accountable for the way their daily practices affect the world around them. In response, a number are embracing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is a self-regulating business model that forces organizations to be more conscious about how they impact society, the economy, and the environment.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be wondering how you can find a balance between environmentally friendly practices and generating profit. It may seem like an impossible feat, but many businesses are paving the way and showing others that it can be done.
Creating a sustainable or eco-friendly business will require you to make amendments to your business model, and this won’t always be the cheapest thing to do. However, if you’re creative and innovative enough, you may be able to do it in a way that doesn’t set your business back financially but rather, improves your bottom line. Here is how small businesses can balance people, profit, and planet.
Integrate it into Your Business Strategy
To be an environmentally friendly or sustainable business, you should integrate CSR and sustainable practices into your business strategy. In doing this, you’re making sustainability a part of your values and foundation as a business. This will not only have immense benefits for the environment but for your branding as a business, as well.
An increasing number of people want to be a part of a company that cares more about preserving the world than sucking its resources dry. Many employees also believe that corporations should be socially responsible so that they positively impact social, environmental and economic factors. When you make it a part of your blueprint, it could also reflect a true desire to operate in a more sustainable way as opposed to coming off as a marketing ploy.
Sometimes, sustainability focuses so much on environmental concerns that it leaves key workplace considerations behind. However, for organizations to be truly sustainable, they have to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the workers who will be executing any sustainability strategies that are introduced. This can be done by making sure you integrate worker’s safety and health into your sustainability plan and overall business strategy. Making employee training and education mandatory is a way to prioritize the safety and health of employees. For instance, they could learn about hazard identification and risk assessments so that they aren’t being harmed in the process of making products or delivering services.
Start with Being Environmentally-Friendly
Often times, environmental friendliness and sustainability are thought to be the same thing. You should know that they don’t have the same meaning; while sustainability is about putting long-term measures in place, the former is about short-term and sometimes more cost-effective changes you can make. If you don’t have the resources to make long-term changes towards sustainability, start with being environmentally friendly.
A simple step your business could take towards environmental friendliness is to make recycling an office practice. Items like paper, cardboard, and plastics could be put in separate bins and you could also consider buying materials that are eco-friendly. This wouldn’t be a financially exorbitant step to take, yet it would make a difference in saving the planet.
Sourcing goods and services from suppliers that are sustainable, which is also known as green procurement, is another way of supporting a greener planet and doing your part. For instance, you could buy breakfast for employees from a company that uses organic produce.
Likewise, if you have to buy cleaning supplies for your business every month, look for a company that makes them in a sustainable way. It could mean that they’re free from toxins that are harmful to the environment and they use recyclable packaging too.
Update Your Daily Practices
The practices that you adopt on a daily basis are what will gradually make your business one that is greener. In light of this, come up with a strategy that will enable you to work towards reducing your carbon footprint.
Seeing as businesses typically deal with several documents a day, document scanning would be a way to reduce your footprint. In case you aren’t familiar with document scanning, it’s simply converting paper documents to digital form.
Another idea is to get green web hosting, seeing as the data centers that power your internet emit as much CO2 as the airline industry. Choosing a green web hosting company means you’d be getting data services from a company that uses renewable energy. Google is leading the way in renewable energy as in 2017, they reached 100% renewable energy for data centers and office operations.
If you’re worried about the cost of becoming a greener business, remember that climate change is costing you money whether you realize it or not. Millennials are expected to pay $8.8 trillion in damage costs due to climate change over their lifetime. You may not see immediate returns on investment, but it certainly could make doing business less expensive in the future.
Sacrificing short-term profits for the environment could result in long-term gains for your business. The road to creating a more sustainable company may not always be easy, but if you think about the long-term benefits it will have on future generations, it could make it worthwhile.