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5 Sustainable Practices to Make Your Small Business More Eco-Friendly

by Louise W. Rice

Sustainability has been a hot topic for a while now. Unfortunately, as vital it is to adopt more eco-friendly practices, the reality is that not many businesses succeed in accomplishing this goal. Indeed, it can be highly challenging to implement environmentally-friendly strategies and habits in an organization. However, it isn’t impossible, and there are things you can do towards a greener future. 

If you have a small business, chances are you are under the impression that its impact on the environment is insignificant. This is not the case. From the products you use and the packaging you throw without recycling to the energy usage needed to run an office, there are many aspects that collectively can negatively impact the environment. But the eco-friendly solutions can be easily implemented with a bit of help. 

Sustainability continues to be a topic of much interest, as it should. There is no denying that the need and urgency to adopt more eco-friendly practices is increasing, given that the global climate change stats show worrying data. According to the 2020 Annual Climate Report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average increase in land and ocean temperatures has been 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880. And from 1981, the average rate has doubled. This is incredibly worrying, and actions must be done. 

While it is crucial for government officials and big organizations to take the initiative and implement sustainable practices on a larger scale, one cannot deny that each change could be beneficial for the environment. As it might not be possible for sustainable businesses to implement worldwide regulations, the negative impact on the environment can decrease with more companies adopting eco-friendly practices. 

So, if you have a small business or are planning on starting one, here are five sustainable practices you can implement to make your company eco-friendlier: 

1. Offer The Chance of Remote Work

It might sound rather unusual, but combining physical office work with remote work can be beneficial for the environment. This is because employees don’t have to come into the office as much, and therefore there are fewer vehicles used, whether personal cars or public transportation methods. 

As a result, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, and the air is not as polluted. If you choose to adopt an entirely online business paradigm, that is even better, as there is no need for employees to travel to and from work and spend a lot of time commuting. But even if you go for the hybrid model of combining online with offline, the decrease of emissions can be significant. 

This is one example of a sustainable strategy that isn’t difficult to implement. Not to mention that with more and more workers preferring working from home, the flexibility offered can increase productivity.

2. Go Paperless and Opt for More Digital Tools

It is a known fact that businesses use plenty of documents, which creates a large amount of paper usage. While some documents must be printed, nowadays, you can make use of digital tools to reduce significantly the amount of paper you would typically have to use. 

For instance, Google Drive is an excellent tool where you can effectively upload all kinds of documents, share them with as many people as necessary and edit them without having to print. What’s more, even if you need to sign contracts, there are tools that allow digital signatures. 

Therefore, you diminish the amount of paper used. Not to mention that if you need to archive vital documents, you can do so digitally with cloud computing services. Not only is this a more sustainable alternative, but it is also more secure. 

3. Choose Sustainable Products and Materials

Another effective, sustainable procedure is to replace the products and materials you use with their eco-friendly counterpart. This means that you can become more mindful of how certain things are produced. You can switch to products from recycled plastic, research green companies that produce unharmful cleaning products without toxic chemicals, and even look for ways to use renewable energy. 

Nowadays, more and more eco-friendly alternatives emerge to replace the ones that cannot be recycled or contain toxic ingredients. An example would be choosing reusable masks over disposable masks that end up in the ocean. Plus, if there is a brand that uses excessive packaging, you can switch to another one that is also aware of the environmental impact and offers eco-friendly packaging. 

What’s more, choosing sustainable products and materials for your business usually means working with local businesses. Sourcing close to home reduces the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

4. Implement Recycling Solutions

One of the most significant issues when trying to combat environmental issues is that a large amount of waste ends up in landfills rather than being recycled. Apart from reducing the usage of particular objects, such as disposable cups or cutlery, and instead opting for reusable ones or repurposing boxes, for instance, recycling should be encouraged at all times. 

For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to place bins in the offices and encourage employees to use them. Recycling bins accompanied by helpful, informative posters are an excellent place to start the mission of implementing recycling solutions. 

Suppose your business has to recycle more oversized items made of cardboard, plastic and more recyclable materials. In that case, you should look into hiring professional companies that can provide waste management and recycling solutions that meet your business needs.

5. Embed Sustainability Within the Business Culture

Truth be told, without sustainability being an attribute of the organization, embedded in its core and a vital part of the brand ethos, any of the eco-friendly practices mentioned and others you may want to implement will be challenging to maintain. As long as sustainability is rooted within the business culture and a mutual value of the brand and its community, any positive implementation meant to decrease the negative impact on the environment will be adopted more readily.

When people share traits, goals, and vision, it is more likely to adapt to change. When it comes to implementing sustainable practices, it is crucial that people understand their vital contributions and how their behavior can have a positive impact. You can also incentivize your employees when they participate in any eco-friendly initiative with rewards, like a day at the spa. As long as sustainability is at the core of the business, change can be better managed.

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