Regardless of what industry you are in, there are plenty of steps that you can take to make your business more eco-friendly. Not only is it a good business value to have, but it can significantly improve your carbon footprint. Although it will mean making changes to the way you work, and all the way down your supply chain, the benefits will be worth the effort. It is a common misconception that eco-friendly means compromising on price and quality, however, this is not always the case. With the right research, and partnering with the right companies, you can continue to grow your business and serve your customers but with more eco-friendly practices.
Why is it important to make your business more eco-friendly?
There is more of an urgency in society to make changes that will save the planet. This has resulted in a need for businesses to take on the new social and environmental responsibility and make the necessary changes to play their role in a better future. Consumers are more aware of this and are starting to choose companies that align with their values. It has been reported that 66% of consumers are now willing to pay more money for products that come from environmentally conscious companies.
Not only is it important to the environment, but your business can also benefit from making eco-friendly changes. For example, you can boost your reputation in your community and expand your market reach, provide your business with an advantage over your competitors, save money on your energy bills, create a healthier workplace for your employees, and much more. It will also allow you to lead the way to a greener future. All businesses are going to have to make the change sooner or later, so being the first will show that you are forward-thinking, innovative and a leader.
There are plenty of ways your business can make eco-friendly changes that can significantly improve your business. Here are some top ideas to get you started.
Reduce your energy consumption
Reducing your energy consumption is great for the environment, as well as saving you a lot of money each year on your energy bills. Your business can start by replacing old light bulbs with either LED, CFL or halogen incandescent bulbs and putting the lights on timers so they are only used when people are in the room. You can ensure that your heating and air-con equipment is maintained properly, so it is always running as efficiently as possible, as well as installing a thermostat that will only use energy when necessary and can significantly reduce waste. You should also review all your appliances and machinery in the office, to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible.
If you have the budget, you can also look for bigger improvements, such as installing solar panels in your building to generate your own, natural energy sources as well as creating something like green roofing. This is a popular concept that adds an extra layer to your roof using plants, which can provide a great layer of insulation to save on your energy bills, as well as doubling as an attractive outdoor space for customers, and encouraging more biodiversity.
Reduce material waste
Business waste is huge, and often unnecessary. Just within the office, you should see where you can make improvements, for example, see what applications you can move online rather than printing papers such as digital contract signing software. For the paper goods you do need, see if you can source them more sustainably and opt for paper made from post-consumer waste, which uses less energy to make and is made from recycled paper.
If you work in a warehouse, you should review your business operations to see where changes can be made to reduce the waste from your production lines. For example, where can you reduce water in the development of your product? Where can you reuse the spare materials? How can you make the machinery more efficient and use less energy? Small changes across your business will add up.
Precautions when working with machinery
If you work in a business that manufactures products, works with machinery or regularly deals with products such as gasoline and oil, then your business should take extra precautions, as these kinds of liquids are catastrophic for the environment in the event of a malfunction or improper disposal. Your business needs to prepare for both, by keeping the right tools on hand. Companies that deal with large quantities of oil, should partner with a sustainable company that will properly collect and recycle any unwanted oil. They will be able to advise you on the correct processes. You should also invest in backup equipment for your machinery, and an oil spill cleanup kit, so if there are any issues on-site, they can be dealt with quickly.
Create a culture of sustainability
When you start to make changes to your business, it will reflect positively on your customers and employees. It is your responsibility to create a culture of sustainability, by embedding it into your values, and your work practices. Try to encourage your employees to take more sustainable steps while at work, for example, encourage the use of alternative modes of transport for commuting to work, offer different methods of recycling and working differently to reduce waste, reduce water in the kitchen, reduce food waste, and any other ways you can make changes, big or small. You can start by offering small incentives to your employees who are making the changes.
You can also do the same for your customers by offering initiatives and tips to be more sustainable. For example, some companies offer to refill products, plant a tree with every purchase, or simply offer tips on social media that are relevant to their industry, to help customers embed sustainability into their lifestyle. Consumers appreciate this effort and can often help turn them into loyal customers. To successfully create a culture of sustainability, you should embed it into your strategy, and your business model. Many businesses are creating a role called Green Champion in their business, which is a volunteer who is passionate about change, who can lead internal initiatives to promote and encourage more positive change.
Work with green suppliers
Going green starts with you, but then it must echo down the supply chain. It is a good practice to review the suppliers and businesses that you partner with, to ensure they share the same values as you and are doing their bit for the environment. There are plenty of companies out there that you can work with, from the companies that supply your paper, to the materials to make your product. Check out their values, their certifications, and try to ensure you turn your business network as environmentally friendly as possible. Research in this step is vital, as many companies will use the terms such as “green” and “sustainable” but are not reflected in their practices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to visit their premises.
Change can be hard, and as a business, it may take time to invoke all the changes that you wish to make. It is important that, if you want to be more sustainable, boost your reputation, make a difference to the world, and become a credible leader in your industry, then you must make a start. Starting is the hardest part, but the benefits will outweigh the costs and effort. All businesses are going to have to make these changes at some point in the future, but by doing it now, you are leading the way, and showing your customers that you care. Sustainable practices are becoming more and more important to consumers, so if you want them to choose you, and value your business, then you should start making positive changes.