Sustainable Small Biz: 5 Tips to Make Your Small Business More Eco-Friendly
As global carbon emissions continue to rise rapidly, an increasing number of individuals and businesses are looking for ways to make their everyday operations greener. There’s a common misconception that going green means spending a lot more green, but this isn’t true. In fact, many companies find that after implementing eco-friendly strategies and practices, they’re actually saving money. If you’re considering installing an alternative energy source, like solar panels, this can have a high upfront cost, but in the long run, it’s proven to be a more financially fiscal option to traditional energy. If you’re wondering how you can begin taking steps towards more sustainable business practices, try integrating some of these tips into your workplace.
The Advantages of Running an Eco-Friendly Business
Before we dive into how to be eco-friendlier, let’s talk a little bit about why your business should consider more sustainable practices. As mentioned, sustainability efforts often result in reduced business costs, meaning you’ll notice an increase in revenue or you’ll have extra funds to allocate to another aspect of the company. In addition to saving money, you’re also saving the planet. Many scientists suggest that at this point in the process of climate change, individuals who are leading eco-friendly lifestyles cannot have enough of an impact to reduce the effects of carbon emissions. Along with these individuals, businesses and government institutions need to make sweeping changes to the way things are done.
As a business owner, you have the ability to help with this goal. Of course, all retailers–particularly those who sell online–need to use shipping boxes and materials to safely send their products, but many of the most common materials for these items are hazardous to the environment. Using eco-friendly packaging will have a great effect and help to build a reputation for your brand as a company that cares about the natural landscape.
How to Make Your Business More Environmentally Sustainable
1. Utilize Eco-Friendly Packaging
The amount of boxes, plastic wrap and shipping peanuts that are used every day is astonishing. With the widespread popularity of eCommerce, businesses are popping up across the world and have the ability to send products to people on the opposite side of the globe. Because of this easy-to-access commerce method, more companies than ever use shipping materials that can be harmful to the environment.
Utilizing eco-friendly packaging greatly reduces your company’s carbon footprint while also showing customers what your company values. Not only are these biodegradable shipping materials usually cheaper than the regular options, it can also help your business receive tax benefits from local and federal government programs. The government encourages companies to go green by offering tax breaks or other program perks, another benefit to implementing this sustainability strategy.
2. Recycle and Use Recycled Materials
Everybody knows that recycling is good for the environment, but not everybody knows how to recycle properly. It’s much more complex than simply tossing plastic, paper and aluminum into one big, blue can. Many cities and states on the West Coast of the U.S. have more advanced recycling protocols in place to guide people on how recycling needs to be done. Your office building should have separate bins for each of these three recyclable materials, and you should implement a brief recycling training program to ensure that your employees understand the proper way to dispose of these products.
In addition to recycling products that you use, you can begin using recycled products in the office. If possible, it’s best to go completely paperless, but for many businesses, this isn’t a feasible option. Instead, you can replace regular, brand new paper products with PCW products (post-consumer waste).
3. Create a Remote Workplace
More and more businesses are going remote. With the widespread use of the internet, many companies find it more cost effective to run a remote business. This, of course, may not work for every type of business, but for many, it does. Not only are you saving money, but you are reducing carbon emissions as employees are not required to drive to and from work each day and your office energy use is nonexistent. Aside from the environmental benefits, studies have also found that people who work remotely tend to be more productive and content with their jobs, increasing employee retention rates.
4. Use Energy Efficient Lights or Alternative Energy Sources
If running a company remotely doesn’t make sense for your business, there are other ways to make your office eco-friendlier. Energy efficient lighting is one of the most important ways you can go about this. Though these bulbs are sometimes slightly more expensive than traditional options, they last much longer and help reduce energy use and costs.
If you want to take this one step further, you can consider powering your office with an alternative type of energy to reduce emissions (and save money in the long run). Solar-powered panels are the most common type of alternative energy source for businesses and homes in the U.S. right now. Though the installation cost might be pricey, companies can reduce energy costs by upwards of 75 percent with solar power, according to studies from EnergySage. For commercial businesses installing solar panels, the starting price may even be drastically lower than expected as government programs offer large tax deductions to those using this type of alternative energy.
5. Align Your Business with Eco-Friendly Holidays
Implementing eco-friendly strategies within your office and business is important to making a difference but encouraging others to join is a great way to increase your impact. You can share how your company uses eco-friendly strategies on social media or blogs to raise awareness, and you can even promote holidays focused on sustainability such as Earth Day, Clean Energy Month and Bike to Work Day.
Creating an eco-friendlier business will build a great reputation for your brand, but it’s also a smart and caring step to take. There are countless benefits to implementing sustainability efforts into your company. You’ll receive tax breaks, cut costs and make a difference. Though it may seem like a major change, it is possible–especially if you start with small steps. You don’t need to walk in and install solar panels tomorrow, but you can begin educating others and implementing simple methods like utilizing eco-friendly packaging or separating your recycling properly. Who says you can’t change the world?