Small Business Solutions For A Sustainable Future

9 Ways Small Businesses Can Build Sustainable Futures

Contrary to what you may believe, small businesses can have a surprisingly significant impact on the environment. However, as an owner of a small business, it becomes your responsibility to dictate whether that impact is negative or positive.

As environmental awareness becomes a more urgent crisis, consumers show stronger loyalty to businesses that produce better products for themselves, their families, and their environment. By making use of recyclable packaging and reducing waste materials, you can simultaneously build a more sustainable company while solidifying a loyal customer base. 

Look at Source Materials

Sustainability starts at the source. Some of the first steps you can take when moving towards a more eco-friendly business is confirming that your source materials tick the necessary boxes. Next, ask your supplier if they source sustainably, following strong ethical, social, and environmental practices.

Additionally, it is essential to establish your supplier falls under fairtrade, meaning they pay their employees’ livable wages and provide safe and clean working environments. Lastly, where possible, seek out local suppliers and manufacturers. This will reduce carbon emissions and transportation costs and support the local economy.

Reduce Paper Usage

The most sustainable amount of paper that a company can use is none. In the United States, over 12 trillion pieces of paper are used annually in offices. Aside from the immense cost, this is a massive amount of trees. Making the switch to being entirely online is a win for all parties involved. It will drastically cut down on costs, increase your physical working space and make your business documents far more accessible.

If complete paper elimination is impossible within your office, stock your work space with recycled paper only, preferably from a local vendor. Use sparingly and recycle accordingly.

Eco-Friendly Packaging

Packaging is a massive expense for businesses that sell and ship their own products and plays a significant role in the entire operation. According to the EPA, packaging contributes to over 23% of all waste reaching landfills.

For this reason, it is essential to make this aspect as sustainable as possible. Switch out all single-use plastic for bio-degradable packaging made from materials like corn starch, wood pulp, and seaweed.

Refrain from mixing different materials when packing. The mixture of polymers can cause the entire product to become non-recyclable.

Sustainable Office Environments

Furnishing an office space and creating storage for products waiting to be sold doesn’t need to cost a fortune to be effective. It takes a lot of raw materials to make brand-new desks, chairs, and tables. For this reason, sourcing quality vintage and secondhand items is a cost-effective and greener way to decorate.

Furthermore, choosing eco-friendly facilities and energy sources for storing products you intend to sell will significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Green-Shipping & Delivery Options

Your commitment to sustainability should continue once your product has been shipped. Updating shipping and delivery processes to be greener will further reduce your environmental impact.

Use delivery boxes and recycled pouches with bio-degradable fillers that match the products’ size in a more compact way. This will create more space in delivery vans and containers, reducing the number of trips needed for shipping. Additionally, avoid putting smaller boxes into increasingly bigger boxes.

Lastly, consider offering discounts for multiple orders to encourage consumers to buy in bulk.

Offer Remote Work

The covid pandemic completely altered the concept of office work for businesses worldwide. With most employees forced to work from home, a new remote working culture took shape. Online work has proven to be just as effective as in-office productivity, and embracing this new culture of corporate life can considerably reduce CO2 emissions as well as office costs like water, electricity, and heating.

Reduce Waste

The two most significant ways to reduce unnecessary waste are by reassessing your direct mailers and promotional items. Mailers are incredibly expensive to design, print, and distribute. In addition, due to their outdated nature, the majority are tossed aside and inevitably end up in the trash. Instead, switch your promotions to online and target social media sites, where you will likely get more interaction and views.

Promotional items or S.W.A.G is another major contributor to waste. If you want to incorporate them into your business promotions, make sure they serve an actual function to customers. For example, a reusable metal water bottle embellished with your logo will get more use than a cheap plastic pen or notepad.

Explore Green Initiatives

With environmental conscientious at the highest it has ever been, businesses need to be able to support any claims they make about being green. Consumers are starting to prioritize their shopping with companies who can directly show their commitment to this movement.

For this reason, secure the necessary certification and stamps of approval from the required organizations to stay ahead of your competitors and win favor with your customers. 

Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Becoming more efficient is about more than reducing your carbon impact. It is also about reducing your energy bill and usage. Making efficient upgrades is very straightforward and can be as simple as switching to LED light bulbs, using energy-efficient appliances, and providing employees with laptops instead of desktop computers, amongst other things.