As individuals, we can be so focused on improving sustainability in the home that we often forget the importance of exploring options for sustainability in our working life. Consumers are increasingly citing ethical credentials as one of their reasons to choose a particular brand.
Businesses are waking up to not only their corporate responsibility in reducing their carbon footprint, but also their personal responsibility to tackle the threat of climate change for future generations.
But what can be done and how should your small business take steps to make sustainability a priority?
Possibly one of the most obvious is helping to reduce waste in the workplace. From going paperless to recycling, there are a number of ways to encourage a reduction in waste in the office environment.
Firstly, make recycling simple. This can be as straightforward as leaving clearly labelled recycling points throughout the workplace. This allows employees to recycle in the same way as disposing of general waste and will have a major impact on engagement. Can other business materials be part of a recycling policy? For example, in many food outlets, oil and other waste products can now be collected to create bio fuel and other products.
Secondly – go digital. A paperless workplace is the norm rather than the exception but this doesn’t always just apply to internal processes. It is useful to establish a paper audit in the workplace to ensure a truly paperless operation. Look at where your business can go digital, from marketing materials and customer communications to contracts and back-office processes. Going digital can mean a more wide-ranging and cross-departmental audit to establish the security and storage requirements.
Choose Suppliers Carefully
As consumers choose brands based on their sustainable credentials, businesses must also exercise caution when choosing their suppliers. When establishing rules for your business to improve sustainability, make sure you apply those same guidelines for suppliers. A tip is to create a set of rules or procedures you expect suppliers to abide by when engaging with your business. The key here is to balance the sustainability focus of your suppliers against that of your own business for greatest success.
Sustainability practices can be phased into a business using a goals-led approach to encourage engagement and buy-in from employees. It’s important to set objectives that are clear and achievable.
A step-change approach will always fare better in the longer-term than a more immediate transformation in company policy. Small changes can eventually add up to big changes in both behaviour and attitude.
Measure and Reduce Carbon Footprint
Reducing carbon footprint is a term often thrown around when discussing sustainability but few really understood its impact on business until 2020. Businesses worldwide were able to hugely reduce their carbon footprint during the Covid pandemic. How? By employees staying home. Enforced lockdowns became the perfect way to not only highlight how productivity could be maintained when remote working but also evidenced how much we could reduce face to face meetings and ultimately, our travel and commuting time.
As a result of this experiment in home working, many businesses have chosen to continue with a remote working model for staff. Whether a hybrid or fully remote model, the impact on the environment is clear. By reducing the need for staff to travel, we limit the carbon footprint of a business without impacting on productivity. Although not possible for all businesses, supporting meetings virtually as well as creating a culture which promotes remote working can have a hugely positive impact on the knock-on carbon footprint of a business.
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