Perhaps because of the seismic tremors that have rocked 2020, market research shows that consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen Y, support businesses with sustainable practices as a core value. There has never been a better time to assess your company’s impact on the environment..
A sustainable business is one that meets the needs of today without compromising the resources required to meet needs in the future. This includes environmental sustainability, of course, but also employee well-being and economic resilience.
Cutting Waste Cuts Costs
A simple way to begin auditing your office’s sustainability is to examine your energy use and produced waste. Review your power bills from previous years and take note of trends over time.
Where does most of your power go? Heating and cooling? Lighting and electronics? Your business’s energy use is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint while lowering your monthly bill. Switching to LED bulbs, shutting down computers and copiers at night, and installing timers for lights can easily reduce your monthly consumption.
Another way to reduce office waste is to keep tabs on printer usage. Both paper and printer cartridge waste can be lowered by sharing files digitally in lieu of printing whenever possible.
How you dispose of your old technology and furniture can make a big difference as well. Monitoring these sources of expense and waste will not only save money, but reduce pollution and the amount of trash going into landfills.
Happy Employees Generate Profit
The well-being of folks in the workplace is recognized as a top influencer on employee productivity. Creating an environment where workers feel valued can be as simple as rewarding those who bike to work or take walks during breaks. Companies whose values center around health and wellness and the environment tend to enjoy greater buy-in by employees. Fewer sick days and greater productivity are just two significant profit-improving measurables of a healthy, balanced workplace.
By cultivating a culture of care, leading by example, and rewarding sustainable practices, your business will attract and retain better employees. Happy staff members are also more likely to promote your business to their community and spread the message that your company cares about the greater good.
Assess Your Supply Chain
Another way to save money while reducing harmful impacts on the environment is to conduct a careful audit of your supply chain. Choosing local suppliers saves on transportation costs and supports other nearby businesses, which promotes a healthy local economy. Touting your local and sustainable supply chain is also an easy way to advertise your commitment to your community and the environment!
Analysis of the packaging materials you use, as well as your shipping methods, can identify small changes that can make a big difference. You can also encourage employees to carpool or provide bus passes to reduce the carbon emissions of commuting.
Sustainability Pays Dividends!
Living during an unprecedented global pandemic has changed the way people shop, and many small businesses are racing to keep up. However, consumers still tend to be drawn to companies that put sustainability at the forefront of their business model.
Marketing research shows a growing number of consumers care about the sourcing of products and the conditions of workers. Large corporations have had to make significant changes to keep up with market demands and environmental and human rights compliance issues.
Smaller companies are more facile and can more easily tap into the desire of consumers to shop local, choose “green” options, and feel a part of a connected community.
Sustainability can refresh your brand, encourage repeat customers, and attract new ones. People are looking for “feel good” choices right now and a business that values sustainability will be a big draw!
At the end of the day, a successful business needs to be economically sustainable. But the old model of cutting costs regardless of impact isn’t viable anymore. Living on the precipice of a climate crisis, the choices we make today will significantly affect our planet’s habitability in 50 years—and this is something most consumers no longer ignore.
Luckily, for the small business owner, making responsible and ethical environmental choices often improves profitability! You can decrease your carbon footprint while increasing profits. You can reduce waste and build your customer base.
2020 has been a tough year, but it has also been a year to analyze and reflect upon what is and isn’t working in our society, our communities, our businesses, and our lives. It’s the perfect time to assess the impact your business is having on the environment and your community. Then, you can sail into 2021 feeling confident that your company is not only riding out the storm, but coming out the other side in a stronger, more sustainable position.