Over recent years, there has been a growth in awareness of the environmental impact of the modern lifestyle. From huge amounts of waste to harmful fumes generated through unnecessary journeys, more and more people recognize that something needs to change in order to protect the planet before it is too late. This preoccupation has carried through to the boardroom, and many businesses are now seriously assessing their working methods in an effort to become more sustainable in their practices. If you are a business owner who would like to play your part in reducing your carbon footprint, read on for a guide to running a sustainable business.
What is sustainability?
Reduced impact, carbon footprint, going green: there are a lot of buzz words involved in modern environmentalism, but what exactly does ‘sustainability’ mean, and what are the implications of this for your business? Sustainability means meeting your own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to, in turn, meet their own needs to ensure that the earth’s natural resources are not irresponsibly and selfishly plundered. Sustainability in business refers to doing business in a way that does not negatively impact the environment, community, or society as a whole. This is a conscious distancing from a wholly negative corporate culture that prizes profit above all else.
So, what can your business do to increase its sustainability and give back to the wider world?
Set a clear goal
Creating a wholly sustainable company is no mean feat, but it can be achieved if you set a long-term plan with a clear goal and smaller targets leading up to it. One example of a sustainability goal is Swindon and Wiltshire businesses commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This process has been planned overtime to enable businesses to make the necessary adjustments and get used to new working methods. Be realistic about the goals you can meet in a certain timeframe – too many might seem unachievable and overwhelm and demotivate your workforce. With fewer goals, you can really focus on making them an automatic part of your company’s culture, and you can go ahead and add to these once they have been mastered.
Engage your workforce
A sustainable business requires every person to be fully on board to be effective; it only takes one person not to take it seriously for your environmental efforts to be spoiled. It is massively important that you engage and inspire your workforce to help you meet your sustainability goals. For instance, provide comprehensive staff training on the new sustainable processes they should follow, such as reducing the use of the photocopier and printer, and recycling used materials in separate bins. You could also provide incentives to get your staff onboard with green processes, such as a prize for the most sustainable team at the end of each quarter or allowing those participating in a cycle to work scheme to arrive and leave the office earlier each day to avoid the rush hour.
Reduce your environmental impact
Assess your day-to-day business processes and how they can be made more sustainable – you will soon find that you can reduce your environmental impact with a few easy tweaks. Reusing and recycling materials is an easy and obvious adjustment: provide clearly labeled recycling bins and reuse old folders, files, and scrap paper until a replacement is unavoidable. Purchase recycled paper products, such as paper towels and FSC approved printing paper. You could also discourage employees from using disposable plastic bottles in the workplace by providing drinking water and fun company-branded water bottles. By making simple changes like these, everyday sustainable practices will become automatic amongst your staff, and you will build a reputation as a responsible business amongst your customers and other industry professionals.
Build a sustainable office
You can easily reduce the environmental impact of your office by making a few adjustments to appliances. Switch out your ordinary lightbulbs to LED lights, as these use less energy and do not contain toxic materials such as mercury, making for a kinder impact on the environment. Furthermore, though the initial cost of LED lights is steeper than standard bulbs, they do last about five times longer, making them a great environmental investment. You could also replace old appliances with energy-efficient updates. Make sure that you check out the energy star ratings when shopping for new appliances to ensure that they are as sustainable as possible. Even if the item is more expensive to purchase, that investment will pay off with the saving you make on energy consumption initially.