More and more businesses are looking at turning their practices eco-friendly. This happens due to consumers becoming concerned about the state of the environment. Even more so since the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted the negative impact old habits can have on the planet. But this can be changed – each individual can do specific actions to change their behavior and become more sustainable. The key is to start little by little, as change can be difficult.
On the other hand, more entrepreneurs starting a new business are doing this with a clear goal in mind: to launch an eco-friendly business. Such actions not only make a difference in the environment by reducing waste or pollution, but it also sets an example for everyone. Ultimately, if more businesses will become greener, more people will be inclined to adopt this behavior.
The truth is consumers have become more aware of the urgency of being more sustainable, and although every action counts, business practices need to help with achieving this. In a 2019-survey focusing on generation Z from the U.S. and Canada, 60% of the respondents stated they want to shop for sustainable products.
So how can a business be more environmentally friendly?
1. Look at the bigger picture: the supply chain
Regardless of what you choose to focus your business on, you will need to think about the entire process. From raw materials procurement and production to storing and distributing them to the client or store, you must try supply chain sustainability as much as possible and find sustainable alternatives within every stage of the business. Not to mention, you will need to introduce eco-friendly options within the office space.
Consumers will appreciate and believe in your product more if your entire business model has sustainability at its core. In order to achieve this, extensive research is needed. Look into renewable resources and choose what fits best. For instance, if you have a warehouse outside the city, you could consider wind energy to produce electricity. For your office, you can use solar energy, as it doesn’t produce greenhouse emissions and, hence, will not pollute the environment. Such an alternative is a long-term investment, as it can reduce your electricity costs.
2. Rethink packaging
If you have a business providing a product, you will need to think about packaging from a different perspective: how easy you can recycle it. For this to happen, it is vital you find recyclable or biodegradable packaging options. The issue with the inability to recycle some packaging due to it containing multiple materials or because it is wrongly disposed of is still unresolved. Plastic is one of the primary pollutants, as it is also one of the most durable materials that can take up to 500 years to decompose. Besides, some plastic materials are quite difficult to recycle and, if individuals do not adequately clean them, they might not be recycled at all.
For this reason, it is vital you consider plant-based or biodegradable plastics. Another option is to find companies that produce packaging from various recycled materials, which can, in turn, be recycled. Most materials, such as glass or aluminum, can be recycled frequently, and they won’t lose their properties. In contrast, plastic will lose its strength and cannot be recycled forever. So, it is best if you could avoid using plastic as much as you can.
3. Recycle as much as possible
The reality is that there aren’t yet sustainable alternatives to everything, so proper recycling is highly needed. If you want your business to be eco-friendly, recycling needs to happen in all stages of the supply chain and within the office environment.
Besides providing recycling bins for paper, glass, metal, and plastic, it is vital you also recycle other materials which require more commitment. For instance, polystyrene is a material with various uses: from food or electronics packaging to automobile parts. However, recycling can be incredibly challenging, but not impossible. Certain companies provide machines for compacting polystyrene, so recycling this material is no longer that difficult. Polystyrene is just an example of many complex materials or objects that are not easy to recycle. If your business uses materials like this, you can search for specific, efficient waste management and recycling options rather than thinking there is no solution.
4. Go fully digital
Besides recycling properly and decreasing waste, you can do more things to maintain a sustainable practice when it comes to office work. Nowadays, with technology being so indispensable in day-to-day activities both personally and professionally, it isn’t too difficult to do most of your business activities digitally. With so many tools that facilitate communication, file sharing, and editing, going paperless is preferred.
Having a clutter-free office space without shelves full of documents is refreshing and relieves the overall workspace environment of that feeling of stuffy air you can get indoors. Besides, you can use that space for plants that will improve the office’s design and benefit your well-being. So, going fully digital is a more sustainable option. What’s more, if your office runs on renewable energy, this will allow you to use electronic devices in an eco-friendlier way.
5. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Going digital can help you reduce fossil fuel emissions. You might ask yourself how – it’s pretty straightforward, honestly. If you have a business that can work effectively using digital tools, then it won’t be too difficult to introduce the opportunity to work from home. This way, if you allow your employees to work remotely mostly, you will reduce the amount of commuting. Whether it is public transport or personal car, a decrease in their use is beneficial for the environment. So, you might want your business to focus on a combination of remote work and office use, with a focus on the former.
Besides this, for days when you aren’t working remotely or if the business isn’t able to perform well with all employees working from home, then you might want to consider providing with eco-friendly travel alternatives:
- Bicycle tracks and parking: this will allow and encourage your employees to travel by bike.
- Charging stations: some of your employees might have electric cars or consider buying one but are worried that there aren’t enough charging stations.
6. Collaborate with like-minded partners
Regardless of the field or industry you choose to focus on, you will need to develop partnerships and collaborations. For these professional relationships to be successful, it is crucial both parties share the same values and principles.
This means that if your business model has sustainability at its core, it is of the utmost importance that your partner has the same priorities. Otherwise, the collaboration will simply not be successful, as you don’t have the same objectives aren’t working towards achieving a similar goal.