Making sustainability a priority for your firm will not happen fast. However, there are some simple things you may integrate, as well as some larger initiatives that can come later.
Businesses of all sizes are prioritizing sustainability. A sustainable company plan is practically required in today’s environment. Whether you run a physical store, a digital company, or a legal office, the moment to implement a sustainable business strategy is now.
Although implementing sustainable practices may appear to be costly or out of reach, there are numerous simple and cost-effective strategies to weave corporate sustainability into the fabric of your business.
Sustainability specialist and author of Giving a Sh*t: Do Good, Ashlee Piper. Live a Better Life. Save the Earth. According to the author, business sustainability may take numerous shapes.
“There is no one-size-fits-all formula for sustainability… “It truly is a self-created, choose-your-own-adventure game,” Piper explains.
Although small business owners with lower profit margins may be intimidated by the prospect of committing to a sustainable business model, Piper believes small businesses are better positioned to adopt effective corporate sustainability practices because they are more nimble and adaptable than large corporations.
What exactly is business sustainability?
Corporate sustainability refers to long-term, transparent initiatives that prioritize your company’s environmental, social, and ethical realities. It is a broad term that may be applied in a variety of ways.
Related: How to Prepare Your Remote Team for the Future
Some firms may prioritize sourcing locally or reducing carbon emissions, whilst others may focus on donating a percentage of their income to non-profits or social projects. Some staff may be interested in cruelty-free and vegan food alternatives, whilst others may be more concerned with closed-loop production. It is up to you to pick which sustainable road to pursue and how to achieve your goals.
Piper recommends starting small and building momentum until your company is ready to deploy a more full corporate sustainability approach. Ultimately, you’ll want to make sustainability a vital component of your business. Long term, you should consider hiring sustainability experts and incorporating sustainability activities into your financial reporting. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) start here, but bear in mind that the larger the corporate sustainability activities you take, the greater the financial and environmental reward you will experience in the long term.
Here are some pointers to assist you to get traction by incorporating sustainability action in your small business and, eventually, managing a more sustainable firm. First, some low-hanging fruit, followed by suggestions for larger initiatives that can help your organization save money and become more sustainable at its core.
#1. Turn it off.
Adopting a “switch off” policy at your office is a simple approach to save money and make your company more environmentally friendly. This implies that at the end of the day, all lights and electronics are turned off.
Installing motion sensors for your lights or adopting energy-efficient lighting, such as LEDs, will help you save money on electricity. Finally, making the most of natural light is an efficient approach to saving energy expenses while also helping your staff feel more at ease in the workplace.
#2. To begin with, remote
Making your company remote is one of the best strategies to lower your firm’s carbon impact (or as remote as possible). Encourage your team members to work from home unless they have a specific cause to come into the office.
According to a survey conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, encouraging your workers to work remotely at least 50% of the time may save your company over $11,000 per person per year (more remote and hybrid statistics here).
These substantial financial benefits are also related to a large reduction in energy prices and usage. Allowing your workers to work from home reduces the energy expenditures associated with commuting, fuelling an office, and maintaining basic infrastructure.
A remote-first strategy will also help you save in unforeseen ways. According to Piper, remote employees are actually healthier, which reduces the financial burden for health insurance and life insurance.
If your firm does not allow remote work, composting is a pretty simple solution to decrease trash and save money at the workplace.
According to Piper, lunchtime is the most wasted hour of the American day. “During lunch, they make almost 10 pounds of trash per person.
Encouragement of composting at your workplace is clearly a more environmentally responsible alternative, but it will also save you money. Piper thinks that composting at the office may reduce waste expenses by 40 to 50 percent.
#4. Evaluate your company’s swag.
Many businesses like providing knickknacks such as t-shirts and pens to their employees in order to increase brand awareness and motivate employees to represent the firm.
Despite their good intentions, many of these presents wind up going to waste. Before purchasing branded baseball hats in bulk, ask your staff what they truly require and take it into account.
#5. Reduce your journey.
Traveling for business is both costly and environmentally damaging. With virtual meeting platforms like Zoom becoming the standard, examine if an in-person presence is still essential.
Consider some of the ways you might lessen your carbon footprint if you or your staff must travel for work. According to Piper, forward-thinking organizations such as WeWork are taking dramatic measures to lessen the carbon footprint of travel.
“They will exclusively book LEED-certified hotels.” They will only book nonstop flights. They don’t provide first or business class since those seats take up a lot more room. They are not allowing individuals to check their baggage unless absolutely essential.”
Take a strong line when it comes to traveling, even if this is a more complex and scary undertaking to implement. You will reduce many of the environmental and financial expenses associated with business travel.
#6. Encourage employee participation.
When you’re ready to take sustainability more seriously, Piper says one of the best places to start is by involving your employees.
“Instead of the team-building trust fall exercises that so many of us have had to endure, there are a plethora of ecologically impactful team-building activities that people may engage in that truly make a difference.”
It is up to each individual corporation to determine its objectives. Perhaps your staff can pick up rubbish in the area or generate funds for a local cause. The choices are nearly limitless, so meet with your staff members to explore how they would like to contribute to your company’s sustainability goals.
#7. Hire a sustainability advisor, and do an audit
Hiring an in-house sustainability manager is one of the most significant steps your firm can take toward a meaningful commitment to corporate sustainability in its culture. A paid employee is obviously an additional expenditure, but based on the principles of corporate sustainability, it’s an investment that can ensure your company lives and grows for the foreseeable future.
Another important long-term aim is to include sustainability in your company’s strategic strategy. This involves conducting a sustainability audit or incorporating these practices into your annual reporting.
According to Piper, an audit is extremely beneficial since it demonstrates how your organization can enhance its sustainability efforts. “Because you don’t know unless you compute where you are right now… Patagonia no longer has a specialized product in this category. It is now woven into the fabric of all sorts of businesses, regardless of size.”
Business at its core
Today, many customers want businesses to take corporate sustainability seriously, and there are several ways for your team to do so. Begin small, such as providing reconditioned computers or furnishings to employees instead of new ones, or turning off the workplace lights at the end of the day. Before you realize it, your company’s sustainable practices will be at the center of its expansion.