6 Ways To Make Your Small Business More Sustainable
Did you know that nearly 1 in 3 consumers claim to have stopped purchasing certain brands or products because they had ethical or sustainability concerns about them? This just shows how important it is for businesses to assess their practices and ensure that they are doing everything they can to reduce their carbon footprint. In fact, it should be at the top of your priority list if you are a business that wants to continue to grow over the coming years as sustainability will soon be at the forefront of people’s minds when making purchasing decision; even over affordability and convenience.
Beyond the corporate social responsibility that all businesses have and the understanding that embracing sustainability will positively impact the success of your business, there should be a human and moral value that crosses over into the company ethics when it comes to being cruelty-free, ethically-sourced/made, eco-friendly, plastic-free etc.
By making an effort to be greener, from sourcing and production to the shipping of goods, you will attract positive publicity and more customers, retain the customers that you already have and feel good knowing that you are having a positive impact on the planet.
The process of moving towards more sustainable practices doesn’t have to be a huge upheaval to your small business – there are a few minor changes that you make today to start your journey towards sustainability.
Cut Down On Paper
Thanks to advancements in technology, we are now able to go paperless and make everything digital which saves on time and paper waste.
There is already a noticeable change with most retailers and restaurants no longer printing paper receipts but, instead, sending them directly to customers by taking down their email at point-of-sale.
This is usually far more convenient for the customer who will now have a copy of their receipt to hand at all times should they need to make a return or file it for tax purposes, and it greatly helps the environment too. Paper receipts typically end up in the bin, or on the floor, to only then be sent to landfills, where these plastic pollutants generate 1.5 billion pounds of waste in the UK ever year.
By switching to paperless receipts, your business will contribute greatly to the reduction in this shockingly high figure.
Another example of paperless business practices, are the countless apps that allow us to sign documents digitally which means that we no longer need to print reams of paper just for the sake of signing something that will inevitably end up in the shredder.
Furthermore, making your business go paperless will reduce the amount of trees that need to be cut down in order to supply us with the material, save on space (how many filing cabinets and drawers do you have filled with paperwork?) and put an end to the time-consuming task of shredding.
Not to mention, it is far easier to keep personal, confidential documents safe when they are digital files rather than physical items.
Start A Remote Working Or Hybrid Working Model
When we were in one of our many lockdowns over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, the biggest shift we experienced as a society was the change in the way we worked. People were no longer able to leave their home and go to an office or place of work for the day and, instead, had to work from home in keeping with the ‘stay home’ order that was in place.
This forced many to set up home offices, invest in stationery and laptops and get used to the challenges, and many benefits, of remote working.
In most cases, it had little to no impact on workers’ productivity at work and, in others, businesses actually saw a positive change.
During this period, we also witnessed a record drop in fossil carbon dioxide emissions by 2.4 billion tonnes; an achievement that was, in part, a result of fewer cars being driven on the roads as people no longer had to commute to work.
It has already been established that a third of all CO2 emissions from passenger transport comes from commuting which goes to show that giving employees the opportunity to work from home, even if it is for only one or two days a week, could go a way towards slowing down the damage that we are doing to the environment.
Reduce Energy Usage
Most businesses, even small business, consumer a vast amount of energy during a typical working week with the majority of this coming from electrical appliances such as computers and lights.
Though the use of these items is essential in order to run a successful business and keep workers safe, there are things that can be considered to ensure that you are keeping your energy usage to a minimum whenever possible.
For example, during the summer months when natural daylight is available for the majority of the working day it should be easy to avoid switching on any lights at all. But if you work in a space that doesn’t have much access to natural light or during the darker, winter months, it can be impossible. The most important thing you can do in those circumstances is to make sure that lights are being turned off when they are no longer needed such as at the end of the working day or when you leave a particular area or room.
Be sure to insist that the last person to leave takes some time to ensure that all lights are turned off at the end of the day as well as computers and any other electrical devices that no longer need to be switched on.
Another big contributor to energy usage in workplaces are thermostats and heating appliances both in winter when they are needed to keep the space warm, and in summer when the air conditioning is blasting throughout the day.
Although the workplace does not need to be within a specific temperature for health and safety reasons, you should consider all options before turning the heat or the air conditioning on.
For example, try opening some windows, investing in low energy desk fans, gifting hot water bottles to your employees etc.
Switch To Eco-Friendly Packaging
The easiest way to showcase your eco-credentials to your customers, aside from your products, is with your packaging. It is the first experience they will have with your brand and tangible evidence of your sustainable practices should it fit the bill.
If you are a small retailer that delivers physical products then think about the materials you are using to package your products and whether all of it is even necessary. Start by removing any plastic and getting rid of any non-essential waste materials that will end up in the bin (such as paper used for stuffing) and make any necessary switches to eco alternatives such as materials that are compostable, recycled or reusable. You could opt for recycled cardboard boxes, recyclable paper and organic cotton pouches and drawstring bags where appropriate.
Not only are these far more eco-friendly packaging alternatives that will satisfy the demands of a growing public outcry for more sustainability from businesses, these items are usually of a higher quality and reusable which provides an even better overall service to your customers.
We are a wholesale supplier of eco-friendly bags including reusable pouches that can be used for packing products such as jewellery, candles, soaps, cosmetics and hair products.
Support Green Charities and Organisations
Being an advocate for environmental charities and organisations is a great way to show your customers that you care about the planet beyond trying to elevate your brand.
You could donate a small portion of your profits for a particular month or on a specific product to a project that helps protect wildlife or you can sign up to an organization that plants a tree for every order that you receive.
Even just talking about charitable organisations on your social platforms or in e-newsletters and raising awareness of them is a brilliant way to get started on your sustainability journey.
On another note, you should also consider your entire supply chain and the companies that you do business with as this will picked up on by your customers too.
A good example of this might be the couriers that you choose to ship your goods to your customers as this is very visible to anyone that purchases from your online store. Do some research into the company before working with them to ensure that their sustainable practices are up to par too and, if they are lacking, bring it to their attention as you may be able to help them start their own journey into sustainability.
Invest In Sustainable Promotional Products
Whether you are gifting your employees or marketing your business at an event, the custom printed products that you give away should be eco-friendly and ethically sourced too.
Promotional products are known to be wasteful especially when made using harmful materials such as plastic. But this shouldn’t steer you away from investing in what can be a brilliant marketing tool for your business. Branded merchandise is excellent for events, giveaways, corporate gifting, trade shows and PR marketing as it is remains on the most effective ways of increasing brand visibility. It is also now an opportunity for you to display your eco-credentials and awareness to potential customers/clients by opting for eco-friendly promotional products.
This is where we come in.
We stock a range of high-quality, reusable bags, including canvas tote bags, jute shoppers and organic cotton pouches. They are all available to be custom-printed with your bespoke artwork using one of our professional methods of printing enabling you to create a sustainable promotional bag for your business.Browse our broad collection of ethically-sourced and eco-friendly bags here