3 Easy Ways Your Business Can Take Action Today To Be More Sustainable
Regardless of what kind of business you are in, there are always small but meaningful things you can do the maximize your impact to be more sustainable. As 2021 comes to a close there is a lot of room to reflect on what we can do moving forward. This is a friendly reminder to you that being a sustainably functioning business can be an easy transition even though it doesn’t all happen overnight. You can go into this new year feeling equipped and capable of achieving every goal you set for yourself.
Focus On Your Strengths
Going green starts with focusing on how to take action by finding areas you can be consistent in and fully commit to long-term. Even if it’s the simple switch from regular light bulbs to more energy-saving ones, this swap makes a world of a difference! It’ll be a lot easier and less overwhelming if you pick something simple to stick with throughout the year.
Maybe your business thrives on the community aspect of providing locally sourced products/ materials. Your business may have easy access to various local resources. This is considered a strength! Putting a special priority on supporting local businesses that are green makes you more sustainable and also helps you build a stronger bond with businesses that are like-minded.
If you work remotely, maybe your business can avoid using paper. You don’t require as much physical waste such as paper receipts or unnecessary office supplies. One strength for you could be to easily go paperless and store all important documents digitally.
If you own a restaurant or food service-based business many owners like to find clever ways to repurpose products they already have or receive regularly. For example, when jam jars are empty use them for water glasses. And instead of throwing away wine glass bottles when they’re empty you can wash them out and reuse them. Take note of everything you would either throw away or recycle and decide if it can be repurposed to stay in the business. This will save you more time and money.
The strengths in your business will vary depending on the type of services/products you offer. But regardless of what kind of business you have, you have something powerful to offer that can make a difference. Think about ways you can be creative and take advantage of your strengths. Remember to be practical! Something as simple as choosing to use pre-owned furniture for your office space is still a meaningful way you can contribute to change.
Create Your Own Sustainability Policies
While the term “policies” can feel a bit intimidating at first, it’s important to remember that policies are meant to be unique to you and your business’s needs. Knowing this makes it a lot easier to pursue and discuss with your team. Having policies in place will help your business hit the ground running and feel confident regardless of what stage you’re in. Below I have listed a few categories to consider.
Pay close attention to how much energy you use on a daily basis. If you have multiple rooms that take up energy like air or heat, consider shutting it off at certain times of the day when the rooms are vacant. It can also be helpful to address any major temperature adjustment changes to your team so that everyone can dress in a way that’s comfortable and appropriate for the setting.
Look into the power settings of equipment/devices that you use to see if there is a “green” option. This option is the most sustainable and will use energy the most conservatively.
Whenever possible find out which devices can be unplugged when not in use. Phantom power is a notorious way for energy to get wasted. When things stay plugged into walls that aren't in use, that energy can add up over time.
Knowing exactly what gets thrown away in your business is necessary to better understand how you can start recycling. Do an audit to see what you have that ends up in the dump. Once you have a ballpark idea of what can be saved, set up recycling stations and have a designated person in charge to check in on each one daily. This way everything can be consistent and organized.
Seeing what kind of waste your business accumulates can be a good starting point to help you create a plan of action. Many times our waste comes from simple things we can avoid purchasing altogether. For example, instead of using styrofoam cups, you can encourage everyone to bring reusable mugs or discuss creating zero waste kits with utensils and items they can use long-term for meals. This benefits everyone because both parties will spend less money in the long run.
When you have work events where catering meals or food is involved, consider having a designated place for leftover food to go if it's not all used. Share with families at home or ask around to see if there are nearby businesses that would be happy to take extra food off your hands.
Take Initiative & Work Together
Host lunch & learns
Talking about what can be done in lunch meetings will help employees get in the right headspace to take action. Try starting out with simple changes like what they can do personally in the workspace to make the business greener. When we start thinking about how we can individually do our part it naturally shifts to impacting what the business looks like as a whole. Things like choosing to carpool with friends or bringing your own water bottle to work, all make a difference.
Consider choosing a theme for each meeting you have to learn about a different aspect of sustainability. One month you could focus on recycling, and the next you can focus on reducing food waste. The possibilities are endless. Just go at a pace that feels right for your team. As everyone becomes more educated on issues, it'll be second nature to take action and problem solve as issues arise.
Advocate for green teams
Having a team will help everyone stay in the loop and keep each other accountable. One major advantage of creating a team is that each person can contribute new ideas to advance the business’s efforts in sustainability. You can discuss important topics like ways to train employees on how to effectively solve problems more sustainably. Focus on bringing everyone into these types of conversations and you’ll end up forming a team that’s passionate about pitching solutions and helping out.
Track Your Progress
Once you start taking action the next step needs to be tracking the progress you make and noting the ways you can continue to grow and improve. It can be helpful to have a vision board of some kind or even just a simple list of goals you want to achieve within a certain time frame. The important thing is to keep track of the changes. Even having someone take notes and record the discussions from each meeting can be super helpful.
Once you feel comfortable and get into a good flow of following these steps you can start to consider the more detailed aspects of sustainability and get more creative with how you go green. You’ll always be learning as you go and growth comes with time. Focus on the steps you can take now and you’ll be well on your way.