The urgency for businesses to “go green” has never been higher. A new UN climate report has highlighted the huge gap between the targets set by governments in the 2015 Paris agreement and the actions needed by businesses, governments and individuals to achieve those goals. This presents a great opportunity for forward-thinking small businesses who, unlike large corporations, can be more nimble to a rapidly changing world.
Studies show a majority of consumers want to support companies that make a positive impact for society, including environmental sustainability. So now’s the time to put your small business sustainability plan into action. Because not only is it the right thing to do for the planet, but going “green” can help your bottom line too.
Big or Small, Little Changes to Reduce Waste Add Up
You hear reports all the time of large companies celebrating the tons of carbon they’ve reduced, the truckloads of garbage they’ve diverted from landfills, and the bazillions of hours of energy they’ve captured from the sun. As a small business you might feel like your efforts to reduce waste just don’t add up to much, but it’s not true.
The collective actions of small businesses add up to a tidal wave of change. Plus the ability of small businesses to better track waste than giant corporations means your waste reduction measures can be even more efficient and effective than the big guys. So where to start? With the same measures Fortune 500 companies use to reduce waste — switching to renewable energy, going paperless, and instituting a recycling program for the office.
If you’re a digipreneur and your work happens predominantly online, consider doing away with the office all together. Allowing workers to telecommute not only affords them more flexibility in their day, it reduces the environmental cost of commuting to and from the office. Which is impactful since transportation is often the biggest element of our personal carbon footprints.
And if working face to face is still a key part of your business but you don’t need a large dedicated office space, working in a coworking facility is quite eco-friendly as it allows your small team to share resources with other small businesses such as conference rooms, energy-hogging equipment like printers, and heating and cooling utilities. It’s also a great way to network and build community with other local start-ups and small businesses.
Thinking Beyond Waste
Once you’ve done the work to reduce your waste, it’s time to explore ways to make a net-positive impact. Sourcing materials and office supplies or services from the local community not only reduces the carbon footprint of transportation between the vendor and your office, it also reinvests revenue into your local economy — which is good for everyone. You might also consider ways your team can get involved in community service projects to help protect local natural resources while fostering a sense of pride among the employees and adding a nice halo effect for the company’s reputation to boot.
There’s lots of ways a small business can do its part to be sustainable even beyond the obvious moves like recycling. Take the B Impact Assessment, a free tool to measure your company’s positive impact for your workers, your community, and the environment, and then set goals to do even more in the next year to be a trendsetter in how small businesses can protect this world we live in!