There’s no denying that we are in the middle of an environmental crisis. The ice caps are melting, our forests are being cut down, plastic pollution is at its peak and raging fires have swept over many continents. You may think that your SME leaves little to no environmental impact, but you’re wrong. From small to large businesses, they all have some impact no matter the size.

Going “green” as a business not only has a gentler tread on the planet, but it plays a massive impact on how consumers see your brand. Consumers are now changing their spending habits and leaning towards businesses that support more sustainable business practices, products or services.

In a survey conducted in 2020, 71% of people have said they aimed to buy more eco-friendly products in and 75% have said that sustainability was moderate to extremely important to them. Of which 57% of these consumers surveyed said they would be willing to change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental footprint.

If you’re saving the planet, reducing overall costs and building trust with your audience why would you not jump on the sustainable business bandwagon?

Every business has its strategy and business goals, and we understand that not every entrepreneur is the same. Here are our suggestions on how to take steps towards a greener future as a business.

 

Go remote

We know remote work has a positive impact on productivity, work-life balance and overall employee happiness. But what does it mean when it comes to being more sustainable as a business?

 

A person sitting at a desk having a video call with a remote team member

 

Well for starters it has a kinder carbon footprint. Reduced time spent commuting in traffic means less CO2 is being emitted into the ozone layer. It is not only gentler on the planet, but on the pocket too. Fewer employees in the office mean a huge reduction in the following:

  • Food wastage.
  • Electricity usage.
  • Heating and air conditioning.
  • Less paper and single-use plastic.

Saving the planet and having more money to put back into your business sounds like a win to us!

But what if your business requires your employees to be in the office? Compromise. Agree on set days where they can come into the office and let them work from home on the others. Think about how much wasted time spent in traffic can be put towards productivity to grow your business.

 

Encourage alternative transport

If you still have to be office based or like to meet up for a co-working day, encourage your employees to make use of alternative transport. Whether it’s walking, cycling, carpooling or using public transport, less traffic on the roads means a reduced environmental impact and a more sustainable business. Remember, it’s better to have one car filled with four people than four cars filled with one.

 

A woman cycling in the streets

 

Are your employees not quite taking the alternative transport bait? Incentivise them with benefits and rewards that encourage them to make use of the options available.

 

Switch to sustainable supplies

Whether at home or in the office it’s time to switch to more sustainable supplies. Use eco-friendly cleaning agents that don’t include toxic chemicals. These chemicals are not only bad for your health but get washed down the drain and straight into our oceans. If it’s not good for us, it’s not good for the planet either!

Green cleaning is also less expensive. A simple solution of bicarbonate soda, vinegar and lemon juice does the trick just as well as your normal, shop-bought cleaning products. But at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re in the business of selling products instead of services, make sure your packaging is sustainable too. Say goodbye to plastic and hello to compostable packaging that has zero effect on the planet.

 

Recyclable packaging as a sustainable business idea

 

Get crafty and upcycle

That old desk, the squeaky chair. Upcycling is probably one of the most effective ways to make your business more sustainable. Avoid any unnecessary office equipment making its way to our landfill if there is a chance for new life. Upcycling also reduces waste in the actual process of making new furniture and you’ll be surprised what you can do with a lick of paint. Sometimes a bit of love and attention goes a long way when it comes to saving the planet!

 

A man painting a chest of drawers

 

The 3 R’s

 

Reduce, reuse, recycle!

 

Reduce

Your plastic consumption. Convenience is not key when it comes to the environment, and this is a habit that needs to be broken. Opt for reusable containers and bid farewell to those single-use items such as coffee pods and cups. Better yet, get branded reusable containers for your employees. It’s a walking advertisement for your company, creates awareness for your brand and builds trust with a potential new audience.

 

Reuse

Your old laptop may not be of any use to you anymore, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be to someone else. Donate your old electronics to charities, schools or an NGO and put them to good use. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Giving back will give you a sense of accomplishment and will avoid another non-biodegradable object being thrown away unnecessarily.

 

Recycle

Last but not least, recycle! Get different bins to organise your recycling waste so that it’s effortless to do so. The more convenient you make it, the more second nature it will become.

Recycling also means job creation within your community which has a positive impact on the economy. There are multiple companies available to collect your waste, sort it into relevant categories and dispose of it accordingly. A strong economy and planet! What’s not to love?

 

A person recycling as a sustainable business idea

 

Go paperless

Emphasis digital and online communication within your company to avoid the need for paper. It is 2021 after all! Less paper being in demand means less supply. Less supply leads to a decrease in the critical rate of deforestation.

 

A tree growing out of a pile of shredded paper

 

Deforestation is sitting at a rate of 10 million hectares worldwide per year. Although we have seen a reduction in the numbers since 2015, our forests have a significant impact on:

  • Sustainable food supply.
  • Poverty alleviation.
  • Positive impacts on climate change.
  • Biodiversity.
  • Conservation.

 

Compost

Who doesn’t love a veggie garden? Whether working from home or at the office, compost organic waste to create soil for gardens for new life to grow. Run a competition among your team and see who can grow the most impressive plants from their organic waste. This can have a favourable effect on team building and sustainability as a business.

 

Compost as a sustainable business idea

 

Be energy efficient

Becoming more energy efficient as a business is one of the simplest ways to reduce overall expenses and become “greener”. Although your initial costs may require a bit of capital, becoming more energy efficient can reduce your utility bills by up to 25%.

 

A person holding a tablet showing energy efficient results

 

Here are our top tips on how to become more energy efficient as a business:

  • Go solar. Anything that requires electricity can be powered by the sun.
  • Switch to LED bulbs.
  • Automate your sensor lights.
  • Install gas for cooking.
  • Use natural light where possible.
  • Make use of laptops instead of desktops. Laptops need a single charge and don’t need to be powered constantly.

 

Go green with business decisions

It may sound weird, but websites use energy too. Servers which are always on use lots of electricity to run. Electricity produces greenhouse gases that emit radiation into the Earth’s atmosphere having a direct effect on global warming. With 90% of the world’s population online, that is an enormous amount of radiation being produced for our ozone layer.

So, what is the solution as a business? Use a hosting service that uses cloud-based services that are carbon-neutral. This also allows information to be accessed anywhere at any time, without the need for power-hungry servers.

Partner with businesses that are like-minded and have the same desire to head towards more sustainable business practices. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, customers are favouring brands that put the planet first, so tapping into partners with the same mindset open new opportunities for business growth.

 

A man and a woman standing in front of a shop with a "open" sign in the wind

 

We all contribute to the planet, no matter what our size, so do your part to make a change. With these sustainable business ideas, you can build brand awareness, gain trust with your audience and contribute towards reversing the effects of climate change before it’s too late!

Share this blog on social media to encourage other businesses to take steps towards becoming more environmentally friendly!

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