More and more people are waking up to the negative impacts that business practices can have on the environment. So, there is growing consumer demand for business practices to become more sustainable.
Not only can businesses do their bit for the environment by becoming more sustainable, but they can also improve their brand image, generate positive media coverage, attract new customers and the best workers, reduce energy costs and become more profitable.
Therefore, actively changing business practices to more sustainable methods should be a no-brainer.
As an entrepreneur, the exact practices you can change will depend on various factors, such as the nature of your business and how many people you employ, but here are some fantastic ideas to help you get started in improving sustainability now and in the years to come as your business grows.
Develop a recycling program
If you have not yet implemented a recycling program, you have fallen behind the times. You should consider which items you use are recyclable and which are not, such as paper products, batteries, light bulbs, and computer monitors.
You should then look at replacing non-recyclable items with recyclable ones and develop an in-house system for recycling anything that can be recycled.
It is easy to get started by doing things like installing bins for paper and cardboard and recyclable plastic bottles. Over time, you can change your practices to become even more sustainable.
By actively recycling, you can create a positive environmental impact. For instance, when you recycle plastic, it can be reused and repurposed again and again. On the other hand, when it is sent to a landfill, it can take more than 500 years to decompose.
Setting up an in-house recycling system enables you to save money and improve your brand image, too.
Repurpose or sell used equipment
Speaking of repurposing, you may be able to repurpose various pieces of equipment.
Alternatively, you can ensure functioning equipment is reused by selling it on.
For instance, if you have used process equipment, you can find trustworthy manufacturing equipment dealers to sell the machinery on your behalf.
Make sure that anything you no longer want that can be reused is reused by selling it on. In turn, that creates greater sustainability and prevents waste going to a landfill.
Purchase recycled and used items
Just as important as recycling, repurposing and selling used items is buying recycled, repurposed or second-hand products.
For instance, by purchasing drinks in recycled plastic bottles and then recycling them, the plastic stays in a sustainable recycled cycle.
Purchasing used products can also mean valuable resources are not used to create new products.
Source your materials responsibly
If you sell a physical product, you should analyze your supply chain to identify ways of becoming more sustainable.
First off, you should look at sourcing your materials responsibly. Those materials could be raw components, individual components, or already manufactured products.
You should know how all of the materials in your products are procured to ensure things like fair labor practices are carried out at the other end. If any of your materials are not sourced responsibly, you should take the appropriate action to ensure they are.
Reduce your consumption of natural resources
At first, you may think there are no significant ways in which you can reduce your consumption of natural resources to help your company become more sustainable, but dig a little deeper and you should be able to identify ways of doing precisely that.
For example, you could rethink your packaging or streamline manufacturing processes to embrace natural resources and reduce waste.
Reduce your carbon emissions
In addition to sourcing materials responsibly and reducing your consumption of natural resources, another key element you can change in your supply chain is your carbon emissions.
Depending on your workplace, you could install a wide variety of devices to help you reduce your carbon emissions.
For example, you could install smart sensors that ensure your electricity and other power is shut off automatically when it is not necessary or you could move the production of goods closer to end customers to reduce emissions related to transportation.
Another option is to replace your power sources with solar or wind-power installations.
Get started by conducting an energy audit. Even small changes like adding energy-efficient light bulbs, low-flow toilets, programmable thermostats and ceiling fans can help you to reduce your energy use.
Switch to non-chemical products
Whether you are in a business that specifically uses chemicals as part of the job, such as a pest control or landscape gardening company, or you simply use cleaning products to keep the workplace hygienic, if you are using chemicals, it is a good idea to switch to non-chemical products.
If that is not possible, look at greener options and make certain that the chemicals you do use are disposed of correctly.
Educate your employees
Whether you employ two people or two dozen, you should educate your employees about sustainability in general and in the practices you have in place.
Not only does educating your employees on your sustainability procedures ensure they all stick to the correct processes and behavior, it also empowers your employees to do their bit and boost morale.
By encouraging everyone to contribute as a cog in a wheel of sustainability, you can ensure your sustainable business practices are followed and your reputation grows as a caring entrepreneur.
You could educate your employees via face-to-face meetings, webinars, lunch-and-learn events and so on. Use the sustainability education methods that are right for your brand.
Get support from nonprofit organizations
If you are completely new to sustainable business practices, it can all sound rather daunting.
You may not have even considered how sustainable your supply chain is, for instance, and not know what to do to change it.
The good news is changing to a more sustainable approach is not as difficult as it may first seem.
Furthermore, a good way for entrepreneurs who are new to sustainable business practice ideas to come up with a solid plan of action for changing their methods is to get advice from a nonprofit organization.
You could partner with a variety of nonprofit organizations that specialize in sustainable business practices.
The organizations can help you to conceptualize and implement new policies and support you every step of the way. That does not just apply to environmental practices. You can also get help to learn more about things like fair labor and gender equality.