Sustainability and small business as Earth Day approaches
Tips / 16.04.2021
Thursday, 22 April 2021 is not just an ordinary Thursday.
It’s a day when millions of people around the world will come together under one theme – our Earth and keeping it sustainable for future generations.
If you plan on switching off your lights for an hour in commemoration of Earth Day this year, why not take it a step further and implement some changes in your business with a sustainability plan?
What is this plan and why should you use it?
We take a look at this in this post.
What is sustainability and a sustainability plan?
Sustainability is a broad concept that has arisen in the 1980s, 1990s and onwards after the rather troublesome way we dealt with our Earth and natural resources in the preceding decades.
It refers to the concept of using our resources in such a way that there will be enough for future generations.
It’s a concept about not over-exploiting what we have right now, sacrificing our children and grandchildren’s opportunities to have clean air and clean water as well as a clean world.
As a business, due to rising environmental consciousness, you may need to consider employing a sustainability plan to help your business go green.
This sustainability plan involves actual action steps which you can take at your business to reduce your carbon footprint.
But why should you do so? Are there any benefits to this?
Let’s take a closer look.
Why employ a sustainability plan?
Many small businesses think that a sustainability plan is unachievable, expensive and mainly aimed at the larger corporations.
But this is far from the truth.
Most SMEs around the world are responsible for most of the sustainability initiatives taking place and there are serious benefits of jumping on the bandwagon.
You can reduce your costs by employing “green” initiatives at your business.
From the light bulbs you use to the amount of paper you purchase, these costs can be drastically reduced and you’ll improve your efficiency, too.
Positive brand association
With a growing eco-conscious population, going green at your business will lead to more positive brand association with your company.
Loyal customers will reward you for your efforts and you’ll be able to attract a solid clientele.
Improvements to the environment and public health
Green and sustainable initiatives have an overall positive effect on the environment and on public health.
Your internal initiatives, when combined with those of a dozen others, build up to create a much healthier world for us all to live in.
Meet demands for eco-friendly products and services
As mentioned earlier, due to the growing environmental consciousness, there’s growing demand for eco-friendly products and services.
By committing to going green, carbon neutral or sustainable, this will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Attract new investors
You can also attract new investors who pursue green strategies and invest in businesses that are more sustainable.
So how do you become more sustainable? Here are a couple of ideas to help you out.
Steps to becoming sustainable
There are just so many things you can do to be sustainable, but here is a list of about five main steps you can take.
1. Educate yourself
Knowledge is power and by educating yourself, you’ll be able to stay on top of trends, rules, legislation and regulations.
Arm yourself with knowledge about sustainable business practices from industry leaders and your peers. The more you know, the better.
2. Assess the areas that need improvement
Once you’ve figured out where you stand in terms of the law, it’s time to assess your business.
It might be a good idea to start with a pen and paper and write down all the areas of your business activities including the resources you use, your consumables, your staff and how they arrive at work to any other aspect that drives your business.
Once you’ve noted everything down, you can start implementing some changes.
3. Find new opportunities
These changes can come in a variety of forms.
From setting up a “Green Team” which involves your employees in your sustainability endeavours to using green products there’s so much you can do.
Use green products as much as you can, aim to be as paperless as possible and if you can’t completely reduce your use of paper, at least recycle what you don’t use.
You can also clean using green products, help your staff cut down on commutes by encouraging them to use public transport or ride shares, review your waste, use sustainable packaging, review your waste and recycle where possible, employ sustainable packaging and literally make the office greener by introducing plants and trees to it.
You can also make energy-efficient upgrades by changing to LED lights, automating lights with sensors, taking advantage of natural light and give your staff laptops instead of desktop computers.
Finally, consider getting on board with a cloud server and storing your files there.
4. Create a vision
Once you’ve considered all these options above, it’s time to create your vision.
What type of business do you want to be 1, 5 or 10 years from now?
Hopefully, you answered “sustainable”.
Be specific in your vision and define your sustainability model’s terms.
This will help with employee buy-in.
Put your plan in action
Finally, once all the above has been taken care of, you can start taking small but impactful steps to becoming a sustainable business.