How To Be Environmentally Responsible as a Small Business
As a small business owner, you know that it’s up to you to set the tone for what your business prioritises, prides itself on and stands up for. If environmental care and sustainable business practices are something you want as part of your story, there are some simple steps you can take to promote it.
The good news is, they’re not only great for the earth. These tips could also lead to increased profits, as well as an improved reputation with your customers.
So, what would sustainability mean for your business? Here’s our guide to some of the best ways to make your small business more environmentally responsible.
Assess, in detail, your current environmental impact
Before you start putting plans in place to make your business as environmentally friendly as possible, it would be useful to know exactly where you stand at present.
You could do this in an informal way, by looking at things like your energy and water usage, or how you and your employees commute to work. Alternatively, you could do this in a more formal, structured manner, like an environmental audit.
For an audit to be successful, it must be independent, credible, objective and transparent. You’re aiming to show how your business is accountable to its customers and shareholders, as well as produce a detailed picture of the nature and extent of harm that your business causes – so you can learn what could be improved upon to reduce your environmental impact.
Reduce your energy use, or look for alternatives
There are plenty sustainable business practices to improve energy usage as a small business, and this is particularly true if you have an office used by multiple employees.
Some options include double-glazing windows and insulating walls (to reduce heat escaping in colder weather); sealing doors, windows and installing automatic doors (to reduce draughts); installing smart meters or timers; purchasing energy efficient equipment; and switching off unnecessary equipment or installing automatic timers (to reduce energy use during peak periods).
You could also consider switching to alternative energy – just make sure that any green energy provider you engage with suits your business needs, and that any up-front costs are affordable (for example, installation costs).
Engage with eco-friendly companies
Your small business can only do so much when it comes to sustainability, so, to extend your impact, be mindful of the practices of the companies that you choose to engage with – for example, your suppliers.
Wherever possible, choose companies that are eco-friendly, and check that they comply with all laws and regulations relating to pollution and waste.
You can also be checking the labels of products you use for the business, and source alternatives to any items that contribute to pollution or are resource intensive.
Plug any excess water use
If your small business uses water, consider ways to reduce the amount.
Are there any leaks in your fittings, taps, toilets or showers? Do you replace tap washers and seals on a regular basis? There are plenty of small changes you could make that could add up to significant savings.
To go further, you could also install rainwater tanks or water-saving devices, and perhaps even ask staff members to check meters and monitor water use, or consult with external experts. Formulating a water management plan might also be helpful.
Don’t let your trash go to waste
If everything is going into the same bin, it’s a sign you could be managing your waste better. You should be separating the different types of waste your business produces, and know exactly what rubbish can be recycled or reused.
Encourage staff to make small changes
Most people want to do the right thing by the planet, and if you’re a small business owner that hires employees, there are ways you can encourage them to take small, positive steps in the right direction.
For example, you could give them reusable items (like reusable coffee cups) and encourage them to keep it at the office to use at morning and afternoon tea breaks during their work week.
You could also facilitate better working from home arrangements or allow more remote working days, to reduce commuting wherever possible.
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