The need for us all to adopt more sustainable ways of living and working is ever present. It’s important for businesses to know how they can contribute to the ongoing repair and protection of the environment.
How to make your small business more sustainable
Fortunately there are lots of ways your small business can become more sustainable, both in the short and long term:
- Going paperless with your accounts and bookkeeping
- Embracing the benefits of remote working
- Getting stuck into community initiatives
- Levelling up your energy efficiency
- Supporting your local economy
- Investing in planet-friendly packaging
It’s common knowledge that one of the first things we should all be doing to be more mindful of the planet is to cut back on our paper consumption. A great way for small businesses to do this is with paperless bookkeeping and accounting software. It’s something which will come as a positive impact of the ongoing Maxing Tax Digital (MTD) initiative anyway.
Rather than printing out all of your receipts, invoices and financial reports, do things the digital way instead. Not only will you reduce the negative effect on the environment, you’ll also find your workspace has a lot less clutter as a result.
Less employees in the office means less commuting, and therefore less traffic on the road pumping out harmful gases. It will also help cut back on your business’s energy consumption. You might even be able to consider moving to a smaller workspace as your workforce become more agile.
Introducing remote working is often welcomed by employees, too, so you’ll be able to offer it as a perk. There are even expenses that you can claim for working from home.
It’s not just the things that you can do inside the business that count, there are contributions you can make within the wider community too. Check out what eco-centric projects, schemes and initiatives are running in your local area and see how you and your employees can get involved.
Perhaps it’s community litter picking or a tree planting scheme – whatever it is, use it as the perfect excuse to gather your colleagues for a social get-together with sustainability in mind. You’ll be doing your bit as a business and nurturing colleague relationships at the same time. If there aren’t any schemes running already, why not start one?
Make sure to shout about it on your social media to help spread the word, and get more people on-board with planet-friendly community projects.
Auditing your utilities is an excellent way to start upping the ante in terms of business sustainability. Check your energy usage and spending, and crosscheck it against alternative suppliers, keeping a particularly close eye on those offering more ‘green’ energy consumption.
You’ll be pleased to hear that saving money and protecting the planet are two missions you can embark on at the same time! Communicate your efforts to the workforce, and implement an eco-minded company culture, with everyone working together towards sustainability.
Other effective ways to improve your energy efficiency include:
- Switching to LED bulbs
- Sensor-automated lights
- Working in spaces with plenty of natural light (to limit use of electrical light)
- Install a smart thermostat
- Encourage employees to switch off devices before leaving the office
- Switch to a water machine – rather than a kettle and water cooler
- Keep your double-glazing in good condition to keep the cold air out and heating bills down
- Make sure the building is well insulated
When you buy from local businesses, you help shrink their carbon footprint as well as your own. So rather than purchasing things like office cleaning supplies or stationery, or even your office furniture, for example, from companies around the world, start shopping closer to home.
Doing so means you’re supporting the sale of products that don’t have to travel as far, and therefore won’t harm the environment quite so much during delivery. Hopefully your local customers will return the gesture too!
If your business sells physical products, either online or in a bricks and mortar shop, now’s the time to switch to eco-friendly packaging if you haven’t done so already. Single-use plastic is the arch nemesis of sustainable practice, so ditch it for something more planet-friendly like recycled/recyclable plastic or cardboard.
If you have a physical store, encourage (and maybe even incentivise) customers to bring their own reusable bags. It will help keep your costs down and reduce your impact on the environment.
How you treat the planet impacts customer perception
Environmental awareness is the main priority here, that goes without saying. However, your approach to sustainability will influence how new and existing customers perceive your brand.
Customers today are far more conscious consumers. A recent study by Deloitte revealed that almost half (45%) stopped purchasing certain brands due to ethical or sustainable concerns. This just goes to show how important it is to prove to customers that you care about the planet, not just your profit.
If you’re going to attract and retain the customers of today and tomorrow, ensuring your small business is operating in the most sustainable ways possible isn’t an option anymore – it’s a basic necessity.
Now you’ve got some guidance in the right direction, it’s time your business turned a brighter shade of green. Give your sustainability practices some TLC to help protect our precious and vulnerable planet.
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