Has your business had a negative impact on the local environment? Here we look at some sustainable solutions to support you in becoming a green business, from replacing plastic with organic packaging to reducing energy waste.
There are rules, guidelines and policies everywhere with the noble intent of helping you develop to becoming a green business.
As an individual you probably feel, like most, that you play your part. From diligently washing up yoghurt pots to carefully folding down cardboard packaging, your recycling bin is always reassuringly full.
But very often in business you do what’s required and don’t pay much more attention to environmental concerns than that. This might be because you’re consumed in the very real challenge of running a successful company. You just don’t have time to commit much thought or investment to anything else. It might be that as long as you’re fulfilling your legal obligations then you’re content that you’ve done enough.
The call on becoming a green business has, if anything, strengthened over the last decade. The latest focus is on single-use plastic, the new villain on the environmental horizon. Countless news stories show oceans strewn with discarded carrier bags, plastic ties and so on. Sea creatures are maimed, marine landscapes are damaged and the use of single-use plastic is vilified. Most of us would agree that reducing the amount of plastic we use is the right thing to do. For a business, however, the challenge is finding a way to make the transition away from plastic when there are potentially huge costs involved.
What are the consequences of ignoring the call to change? Naturally, there are ethics. These are important to you but also to your customers and, of course, your work force.
It’s useful and right to promote yourself as an environmentally friendly company, which promotes sustainable practices. Many customers look for these credentials when making consumer decisions and promoting your ethical side is to be applauded. But the people who really count, particularly if you run a larger business, are your employees. You want these people to believe in what they’re selling. They want to know that the business they work for takes a proactive approach in making the world a better place. These are your brand ambassadors, your on-the-street marketers and having them sing your praises is worth more than any catchy advertising slogan.
Taking the time to transform your business practices is worth the effort and yes, the investment. Here’s how you might go about it:
More recycling bins around the office, for example. That’s an easy and efficient way to boost your stats. It’s also a visual marker to staff that you’re taking your responsibilities seriously. Look for other key ways to start making small changes that don’t take much organisation but do make an impact.
Organisations that go through a mountain of printed material might consider making a permanent switch over to digital. Perhaps keeping the print as an on-demand alternative only.
You want employees onside and empowered to come up with suggestions and solutions. You could set up one or more staff members with the task of finding environmentally friendly solutions to some of the larger issues you’ve yet to tackle. Your staff, your eco ambassadors and solution finders will look at reducing your carbon emissions and other harmful practices.
If you do appoint a team, let them know that you’re prepared to back your plans with some investment. You may want to focus on one major project at a time. For example, if you run a restaurant or café and use a lot of plastic wrap to keep your products fresh, then finding an alternative may need a one-off expenditure. This might mean investing in re-useable plastic tubs, beeswax wraps and so on. Get the costings and begin a phased approach if necessary.
Going into full panic mode and trying to do too much at once is unnecessary. Construct a plan that takes into account all the elements of your business. Becoming a green business may save money in the long run, even if there is a substantial initial outlay. For example, adding solar panels to the roof of offices or industrial buildings that you own, reducing print costs and so on.
Becoming a green business is not something to undertake for the sake of it. It’s a serious business decision and one that could impact you for years to come, hopefully for the better. If you’re committed to making small decisions that lead to big differences, grab hold of that inspiration and start planning. Your team, your customers and ultimately the environment will thank you for it.
The ethical benefits outlined above are not the only benefits of having a greener business. In this socially conscientious world we now live in this message can be an extremely strong message as part of your marketing story. People are more likely than ever before to consider a company with a more ethical outlook for the community and the wider world. Consider how you can best market this message to your client community.