Working on making a business more sustainable isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also good for business. Customers enjoy supporting businesses with the same values, so when you work hard to be more sustainable and show that evidence to potential customers, they’re more likely to buy, further helping your efforts to protect the planet. Engaging in more sustainable practices seems like a lot at first, but here are some ways you can make your small business more sustainable over time.
Work With the Right Suppliers
Building a working relationship with the right suppliers can take a lot of time and energy, but getting cheap materials quickly shouldn’t be your only priority. Ask your suppliers about their carbon offsets and learn the details of where your materials actually come from. You may be tempted to cut corners and maintain the cheapest cost possible for your products, but if you’re really dedicated to promoting your business as being sustainable, people will find out if you’re being dishonest, and you don’t want it to cost you loyal customers and damage your reputation. If you can explain why your products cost a bit more than those of your competitors, chances are your customers will be willing to pay a little more in exchange for transparent and ethical business practices.
Update Your Technology
Old technology doesn’t just impact your business operations, it can also cost you money while harming the planet. Make sure your utility systems are operating as they should to prevent wasted resources, and make updates if you can find room in your budget. Renewable resources are ideal, but not everyone can afford investments like solar panels. You may still be able to choose better providers for your utilities, so don’t be afraid to do some research and shop around.
Evaluate Your Packaging
Tons of plastic are disposed of every day, and you don’t want your company to contribute to senseless waste. Take some time to evaluate your packaging material and see where you can make improvements. If you have to include plastic, try to make sure the materials are the same kind of plastic. This makes recycling as easy as possible for your customers, who may be less likely to bother with sorting multiple types of materials. Biodegradable products are ideal, but even recycled products make a difference. You can get them customized and leave a little message about your company’s dedication to sustainability.
Going paperless helps you just as much as it helps the environment. Reduce clutter, organize all your important data, and make sure it’s secure with whatever digital filing system you use. As an added bonus, you don’t have to deal with fickle printers or copy machines nearly as often, which will save you time and frustration.
Involve Your Employees and Community
Don’t feel like you have to change the world on your own. You can get your employees and your community involved in your efforts. You can reward employees for riding a bike or a bus to work. Help organize carpooling arrangements, and offer prizes for recycling or low-waste efforts in the office. You can ask employees to help you brainstorm new strategies to implement in the office and at home. You can fundraise within your community for sustainable causes while also getting the word out about your business. Community is a priceless resource that helps businesses and individuals thrive, so the more you put in, the more you get out.
Adding more sustainable practices to your small business can take time and money, but the impact of your effort will not go unnoticed. You never know if you’ll inspire a customer or a fellow business to do more for the planet. Plus, when businesses invest in things like eco-friendly packaging, more manufacturers take notice and are willing to produce more options, making them accessible to even more people. Small businesses still have a responsibility to the environment, and small actions can have surprisingly big effects.