The vast majority of business owners are drawn to the idea of doing business in a more sustainable manner in theory, but often aren’t sure how to proceed in practical terms. There’s a lingering perception that going green or implementing sustainability initiatives is expensive, time-consuming, and requires complicated technical know-how.
The truth is that more sustainable ways of doing business virtually always result in improved profits (and of course better PR!) and they’re usually not as difficult to implement as they may seem. Whether your business is still a startup or already has a global footprint, there are some basic steps we can all follow to begin our journey to a healthier planet.
Start in the office
The easiest place to implement change is where you work every day. Let your employees know you’re on a mission to green the workplace, and encourage them to get involved and make their own suggestions. Putting a recycling program in place is easy to accomplish, and many staff members will be grateful to have a place to dispose of some of their household recyclables too! Get together with companies you share a premises or office block with to make an even bigger impact. Change your light bulbs to LED’s, start using Eco-friendly cleaning products, support vendors who use sustainable sourced products – the list of options is endless. And remember to keep this green spirit going when it comes time to expand too. To expand your business you may have to borrow funds or get a loan from any bank or private lender but, make sure you get out of debt as soon as possible so that your financial statements do no project a huge loan capital.
Open your mind
As a rule, people aren’t always fans of change – and when you’ve been doing business a certain way for decades, accepting new technologies can be tough. But keeping your eyes open for better ways of doing the same thing is vital for any kind of transformation. Some industries have a particular reputation for being slow to change – and the construction industry is but one example. A technology such as Neoloy geocells – which use a network of honeycomb-like cells for soil stabilization, slope protection and erosion control – has actually been around for some time, yet many companies simply aren’t aware of the benefits yet. Geocells offer construction companies the ability to use local rather than imported materials as filler, have a longer lifespan, reduce construction time, and have a much lower carbon footprint than traditional stabilization techniques – yet many companies just aren’t aware of them… yet!
Whatever industry you’re in, the chances are there are already more sustainable methods of accomplishing the same end. There’s a misconception that green initiatives require research and development, when a lot of the time all you need to do is keep your eyes and mind open!
Allow more staff to work remotely
Aside from the obvious benefit of reduced carbon emissions through less reliance on fossil fuel-burning vehicles, there are some pretty unexpected advantages of allowing employees to work from home. Reduced stress is a major one – especially if your staff often has to wake at the crack of dawn only to spend hours stuck in traffic. Knock-on benefits include increased productivity, better morale and better work-life balance. And far from hurting your pocket, having employees work from home reduces your monthly municipal bills and expenses too.
Explore your renewable energy options
For a long time it’s only been really big corporations that could take advantage of green energy incentives, but as alternative energy sources such as wind and solar begin to achieve cost competitiveness with fossil fuels, this is beginning to change. Depending on where you’re located, this could be in the form of voluntary power purchases which can be paid back over several years, or even local tax rebates for installing your own solar panels. Checking what’s available certainly can’t hurt!
Change your procurement procedures
Even if you can’t implement all the sustainability initiatives you’d like to in your own office, you still have massive power when it comes to which suppliers you choose. Whether it’s the company that delivers your office stationery, supplies your furniture, does your catering, or where you buy the raw materials for your manufacturing processes, where you choose to spend your money has power.
Make it company policy that all new and existing suppliers be assessed, and that greater preference is given to those with better green credentials. Support local rather than imported, companies which don’t use harmful chemicals, products that are recycled or have more Eco-friendly packaging, or boast lower (or ideally neutral) carbon transport and logistics practices.
Like all things in business, money talks when it comes to encouraging other companies to become more sustainable too.