Want to be a More Sustainable Business? Here’s How You Can Start
Because we all need to start somewhere. And lucky for us, there has never been a better time. Of course, going green has always been a good idea, but with governments setting big climate goals, and consumers growing more eco-conscious every day, now is the perfect opportunity to evaluate the effect your business has on the environment.
Now is the time to reinvent those old-school business standards. Yes. Reinvent the wheel. Who better? This week we’re looking at some circular ideas to help you get started. But first.
What’s in it for You?
Besides the obvious environmental benefits, there are financial incentives too. Like the reduction of costs all round, the enhancement of your business’ reputation (more and more, consumers are prioritizing supporting companies and brands that put the environment at the top of their priorities list), and the possibility of product or service expansion (going green can open doors into new markets and inspire real innovation).
Last but certainly not least, adopting circular strategies can help your business attract talent. It’s 2021, and employees want to work for companies who are eco-conscious. Companies who care and are aware of what’s happening in the world. Which brings us to…
7 Circular Strategies to Try
1. Manage Your Waste Better
And by manage, we also mean reduce. Take a look around. What consumables do you stock? Can you get rid of bottled water? Can you switch to recyclable products? Are your waste and recycling bins conveniently placed? Are the signs easy to read?
Getting the basics right is the first step you can take on your journey to becoming more sustainable. If your office space includes a cafeteria or coffee bar, encourage your employees to bring their own mugs, cups, and dishes from home.
Think about reducing your e-waste and rent your laptops and monitors instead of buying them. Grover is a subscription-based rental platform that allows you to rent electronics for as long as you like. If you prefer to buy, consider Refurbed. This online store sells refurbished phones, laptops, and tablets for up to 40% less than new electronics. They’re also more environmentally-friendly. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, try going modular instead of sticking to your current brand. You have options, so before you make any more purchasing decisions, explore them.
2. Choose Suppliers with the Same Green Goals
Your supply chain can have a big impact on your own sustainability goals. Take a look at how eco-friendly it is, then establish and communicate your new expectations, corporate values, and culture (you can do this through a supplier code of conduct). This lets your current suppliers know that you are serious about sustainability and that if they want to continue working with you, they need to start taking it seriously too.
And we don’t just mean going paperless (which, by the way, is easy because most documents can be sent and stored electronically), we mean digitizing the way you design and produce your products. Consider 3D printing. 3D printing has the potential to help you save on raw materials and produce less waste from initial design to production. How? Well, 3D printing (the process of making a physical object out of a digital file through layers of material) doesn’t require actual, tangible material, or the shipping thereof. This localizes your supply chain, reducing the need to transport physical items. You’ll also produce less waste if you use 3D printing, because your product will be printed as one part, as opposed to multiple parts.
With 3D printing, you can also make your product more environmentally-friendly by using recycled material to print it, as opposed to the raw material you would usually use. 3D printing also allows for more product innovation and customization, opening new ways for you to build your current customer base.
4. Choose Sustainable Packaging Options
If you sell and ship products, packaging is a major part of your business. From the packaging that each product is sold in, to the cardboard boxes they’re shipped in, the waste adds up.
PaperFoam is a company that offers a sustainable alternative to the usual plastic packaging. It is customizable, compostable, and promises to reduce your carbon footprint by up to 90%. Check it out. Now, if you’re an e-commerce business, why not consider RePack or Loop for your website? Consumers shop on your website as usual. Then, at checkout, they select the eco-alternative as their packaging option. Easy.
5. Get Creative with Business Travel
Air travel is a huge cost to the environment and your business. Turns out, it’s also one of the easiest things to mitigate right now, thanks to Covid-19. Everyone (even the less tech-savvy among us) has become used to video conferencing calls. Due to necessity, we’ve had to adapt, and when travel becomes a viable option again, we should remember that. We should remember how much quicker, easier, cheaper, safer, and environmentally-friendly it is to just hop onto a video call, as opposed to hopping into a car or on a plane.
If travel is required, take a leaf out of WWF’s sustainable travel policy and limit how far and how often you and your employees travel. Encourage public transport instead of driving, and if you and your employees do need to fly, look at your carbon offsetting options to balance out your air travel.
6. Offer Remote Work as an Option
The pandemic has taught us many things. How adaptable we are. How resilient. And how remote work really does work across a broad range of industries. Not only does it promote better work-life integration (instead of trying to find that ever elusive work-life balance), but it saves on money and emissions.
Think about rent. That office electricity bill. The petrol it takes going to and from the office. Time wasted in traffic. Obviously, this option depends on your business, and your industry. But if your employees thrive at home, let them stay there. Better for employee morale, better for the environment. Win-win. Not sure how your employees feel about it? Ask them.
7. Collaborate with a Startup
We’ve said it before, collaboration is a key element of the circular economy. A startup can help your business develop circular solutions (by delivering specific expertise on materials, experience with technology, and manpower). The possibilities (and advantages) are endless.
Ask yourself how you can improve your product or service, your supply chain, your everyday habits. There is always room for improvement. The time is now.
Are you a business making big, green changes! We’d love to hear your story.