Protecting The Planet: 7 Ways to Make Your Small Business More Sustainable

April 22, 2022

Kat Sarmiento

Our planet is sending SOS! Climate change is affecting every country now and is at its highest level in history. It’s widely disrupting national economies and affecting people and communities today and even more tomorrow.

Scientists have long been saying that the climate battle will either be won or lost in the next decade. Per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global emissions must be halved by 2030 and at net zero by 2050 to avoid climate catastrophe.

Big corporations are known to produce a massive carbon footprint. And just like them, small businesses are also making a huge impact on the planet—and it’s up to you whether that impact is positive or negative.

Today, people are becoming more environmentally conscious. You’ll see that consumers are now more open to exploring planet-friendly products. As businesses of all sizes choose to embrace sustainable business practices, their customers also notice and are supportive of the brands’ cause.

Ways to embrace sustainability

To help your business know how it can lessen its carbon footprint and contribute more to the environment, here are some tips:

1. Source materials locally

Your business’ sustainability journey starts at the source. You can ask yourself some questions to assess if you’ve been procuring materials sustainably. Support local vendors

  • Does your supplier live out strong ethical and environmental performances in producing the materials?
  • Are your suppliers fairtrade?
  • Do they pay their employees dignified wages?
  • Do they use recyclable, renewable, and/or biodegradable resources to operate?

Start supporting local vendors to help support the local economy and cut down on the costs of transportation.

Check also if your supplier uses only genuinely natural ingredients that are free from toxins and harmful chemicals, if you’re a small business selling skincare products, it’s best that you use natural skincare ingredients.

If you’re a clothing business, make sure that the materials used for your products are made of eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, hemp, and linen. Instead of producing one-time-use clothing, offer lasting options like reusable period underwear, organic bras, and more.

2. Make shipping carbon-neutral

Per ShipBob, carbon-neutral means the practices that, when executed properly, produce a net zero amount of carbon dioxide. This type of shipping seeks to lessen or eliminate the carbon footprint linked to shipping packages.

Start incorporating sustainable delivery methods. Consider optimizing shipping routes to reduce fuel consumption, idle time, and other wasteful practices. Use delivery boxes that are just right for the size of the product and not five times its size. Use less, compact packaging to minimize space and cost. If possible, consolidate orders and encourage bulk purchases.

3. Eco-friendly, plastic-free packaging

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), packaging and containers alone contribute to over 23 percent of the material reaching the US landfills.

Begin reducing your business’ waste through opting for biodegradable packaging and cutting down on Styrofoam and plastics. Replace single-use containers with materials that break down quickly and safely, like wood pulp, mycelium, and more.

Other eco-friendly materials include biodegradable fillers and pouches, compostable bags, and recycled cardboard.

4. Use sustainable storage

Stay true to your sustainability mission by ensuring you also have sustainable storage. Whether it’s a warehouse for your wares or fridges for your food, your storage’s environmental impact can add up over years.

Consider choosing planet-friendly facilities that use renewable energy for climate control, such as solar panels. Consider packing stored items in green containers instead of plastics. Lastly, get rid of items that are no longer functional through donating or upcycling them.

5. Reduce your resource consumption

Energy and material consumption reduction bring you two benefits—you get to save costs and save the planet.

To help offset your company’s environmental impact, start switching off electronics, lights, air conditioners, and other appliances when no longer in use

Start using energy-efficient lightbulbs like halogen incandescent or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). They use up to 80 percent less energy than typical light bulbs and last up to 25 times longer per Energy.gov.

You can also reduce paperwork and billing by offering digital payment options like emailable e-checks and receipts. This way, you get to save time and enhance data security. Opt for digital formats for your usual print materials like invoices, internal memos, newsletters, and service agreements.

6. Make charitable contributions

Actively get involved in environmental initiatives through starting projects like planting a tree for every 10 products sold, donating a percentage of your proceeds to programs for the environment, utilizing green web hosting, and setting up a fundraiser in your community to promote eco-friendly initiatives.

7. Turn your team “green”

What better way to transition your company to a more relevant, sustainable business than to mobilize your employees to go green, too! Encourage them to have a sustainable lifestyle by incentivizing plane-friendly habits and showing them appreciation. Engage them also by asking for their ideas on how everyone and the company can make positive changes in the community where it operates. Establish programs like zero-waste days, biking to work, and bring your own lunch days.

Remember to set realistic goals and celebrate your little green milestones together.

Making the shift to sustainability

Recent surveys show that consumers are now attentive to organizations with eco-stances. Four in five people feel that businesses can play a decisive role in improving society and must help in creating value for the bigger community by taking a stand.

Making the shift to sustainability through incorporating a sustainability strategy is a huge milestone for a business. You get to reduce monthly operating costs and your carbon footprint as you pursue sustainable profitability. Likewise, you get to future-proof your company for compliance requirements. You also help make a big difference in your community by making CSR a core of your business plans.

Overall, in addition to being attractive to your customers, investors, and employees, you get to encourage everyone to band together with you toward sustainability.

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