All around the world, businesses from every industry are examining ways to be better global citizens and engage in green business practices that help the environment. No matter how large your company is and what line of business you’re in, there are steps you can take to make your enterprise more sustainable.
What Is Sustainability?
If you haven’t heard the term before, sustainability is a general term for protocols and practices that benefit the environment. The idea behind sustainability is to leave the environment unharmed by manufacturing or commerce activities. Sustainable practices are those that support a healthy planet by doing no harm to the environment and respecting the limited nature of finite natural resources on Earth. Some examples of sustainable business practices might include:
- Offering recycling bins in addition to trash cans so employees can recycle items from their lunches, cardboard boxes, and office supplies. This saves these items from ending up in a landfill and turns them into new products.
- Reducing the number of pages you print to only those that are completely necessary. Distributing memos, procedures, and meeting agendas via email instead of hard copy prevents paper waste and can actually keep confidential or proprietary information safer.
- Selecting an office location that is easily accessible via public transportation to encourage employees to use these methods to commute instead of driving individually.
- Eliminating the use of plastic utensils and bags in hospitality-based businesses. These single use items are some of the most wasteful on the planet and some countries or states have even banned them because they can be so harmful to oceans.
Why Should You Make Your Business Sustainable?
Sustainable business practices don’t just benefit the environment; they can also help your business save money. For example, in large enterprises with an in-house IT department, cutting down on printing unnecessary documents can save them a lot of wasted time. Currently, IT departments spend 15% or more of their time on fixing printer-related issues.
Sustainability should be an intentional part of your organization’s goals and plans, not an afterthought. This helps your employees understand that you are serious about your approach to being better global citizens and sets a good example for them to follow. Incorporate your plans for sustainability into company meetings or annual projections to set the right tone and help everyone understand their importance.
Being a sustainable business will also draw like-minded customers. Since 75% of web users base a company’s credibility on its website design and its visual aspects, you can incorporate your business’s green practices into your web design and make it clear that you value sustainable practices and clients.
Easy Ways to Make Your Business More Sustainable
Here are some ways you can incorporate sustainability into your day-to-day business:
- Partner with like-minded businesses and vendors to make your efforts towards sustainability more effective. Look for innovative vendors that incorporate environmentally friendly practices into their work and organization goals. Or, contribute towards charitable efforts to help the planet.
- Decrease the carbon footprint of your executive team by limiting the use of private airplanes and other luxury conveyances. This sets a good example for the rest of the team and can also save on operational costs.
- Look for opportunities to save energy in your corporate property. Replace old-fashioned lights with LED bulbs, switch to motion sensor lights that turn off when no one is present in the room, and offer refill stations for reusable water bottles instead of stocking disposable water bottles in the office. These practices can save your company money as well as energy.
- Recycle used textiles after redecorating or moving office locations. Gently used office furnishings, old computers, desk chairs, and curtains can be given to charity organizations that will find them a good home. The company gets a tax write off and the materials are given a new life.
In 2019, total energy costs in the United States dropped by 5%. We can continue this pattern by incorporating green practices into your business. It takes time, but with the right approach, your company can become a friend to the environment and an example to other companies.