What is a small business sustainability strategy?
We all realize the value of adopting sustainable practices in order to reduce our impact on the environment. While this typically inspires local shopping, vegan diets, and a few charitable donations, it can be difficult to perpetuate these habits when it comes to your small business and does so profitably. However, a 2015 Nielsen study found a rapidly growing percentage of consumers, from 51% of baby boomers, 75% of Millennials, and 72% of Generation Z, are willing to pay more to purchase from companies committed to social or environmental missions, making sustainability a highly profitable way to differentiate your small business.
While it’s clear that there are expanding opportunities for sustainable businesses, few small business owners realize how to profitably integrate sustainable practices. Check out these 4 tips to start decreasing the environmental impact of your small business, while increasing consumer engagement, enhancing your company culture, and saving money.
How can you achieve small business sustainability?
Reduce and Recycle
The first, most commonly utilized method of reducing the environmental impact of your small business is through the increased implementation of recycling. Perform an internal audit to evaluate how your small business can minimize its waste materials through all its business processes. To go beyond traditional recycling, your small business can reduce its hard-to-recycle waste by eliminating unsustainable options such as single-use coffee cups, or recycling with zero-waste programs.
An additional way to reduce the impact of your small business is through purchasing second-hand goods like office equipment, furniture, and technology. Not only will this greatly reduce the carbon footprint of your workspace, but it also offers enormous savings for your small business.
Save the Trees
The second way to greatly reduce your small business's environmental impact is by reducing your use of materials such as paper. It is easy to go paperless by digitalizing your documents with programs like Neat. Not only do paperless options help minimize the environmental impact of your small business, but they also help to organize, automate, and streamline your financial processes, making your business more efficient and saving you money.
Integrate Alternative Energy
Of course, one of the biggest impacts of every small business is its use of energy. To start reducing your business’s nonrenewable energy use, you can simply opt to use “green power”, sourced from renewable sources like wind or solar. This option is offered by most utility providers at a rate just slightly higher than normal, nonrenewable, energy.
To make an even greater impact, you can install your own renewable energy source such as solar panels. While requiring a greater initial investment (although state incentives are typically available), these options carry long-term financial advantages through a reduction, or even elimination, of energy expenses, in addition to hefty tax savings.
Incentivize Employees to Adopt Green Practices
A fourth way to reduce the carbon footprint of your small business is by incorporating green initiatives into your company’s culture. To increase employee adoption of sustainable practices, try…
- Offering incentives for the utilization of public transportation
- Encouraging emission-free transportation such as biking or walking
- Issuing reusable company water bottles for employees
- Providing a sustainable lunch for employees once a month
Not only can these sustainable practices reduce the environmental impact of your business, but they can also improve your company culture and increase employee engagement.
In today’s global market there are expanding, opportunities for businesses who take the initiative to implement sustainable practices. But, small businesses whose mission is not centralized on environmental initiatives don’t have to be left behind. The process of instituting sustainable practices can start small, yet still provide huge impacts in increasing consumer loyalty, engaging employees, and reducing costs.