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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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How to be more environmentally friendly as a small business

 

The planet is facing one of the worst times due to climate change. In fact, global warming has already caused a rise in sea levels and temperatures, increased drought and heavy precipitation in certain areas. Most of these issues are human-induced because of the consequences of industrialization, and the future doesn’t seem to be so bright.

But as technology evolves and humans are becoming more aware, you can act accordingly and, if not save the planet, at least stop it from becoming uninhabitable. Enterprises, industries and businesses have the most significant impact on climate change. Even small companies do, so if you want to be one of those who care about the environment and run a sustainable company, keep reading and find out how you can do it.

Reduce energy and waste

Reducing energy is about using natural resources and using electricity only when needed. Meaning that you need to:

  • Turn off the lights when leaving the room and unplug any electronics when you’re not using them.
  • Install smart thermostats that connect to mobile devices. It’ll be easier to set the temperature and change it.
  • Go paperless. You’d be surprised how much paper is used in businesses. You need to start digitizing paper documentation, use cloud storage for any important files and pay the bills online.

On the other hand, you have to stop using disposable cups, plates, and other utensils to reduce waste in your small business. Also, look for a solution to provide clean water to avoid purchasing plastic water bottles in the office. Having a water cooler or a filter on your sink faucet are long-term solutions and also economic. You could also use a wide range of machines for the recycling bins.

Don’t forget to spread the information among your employees and include in their training the recycling protocols of your business about how to recycle the most common waste your company produces. 


Be aware of the carbon footprint

The carbon footprint consists of the total greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s caused by almost everything on our planet, from each individual to manufacturing and transportation services. It’s quite challenging to spot and eliminate every factor that leads to these issues, but there are some things you can do:

  • If you’re leading a business that can’t be done in an online space, you could invest in green office equipment. That means using appliances with a high energy rating (A+) and installing led lighting. If you can stretch the budget, invest in solar panels to power computers, phones and other devices. In the long term, it can also cut costs.
  • Choose more sustainable transport for business trips. If possible, use public transport or car-sharing. You can also switch the company cars to hybrid or fully electric.
  • Recycle. By putting paper, plastic and metals in the right bin, you’re choosing small-footprint solutions for the environment. Don’t forget that you can reuse some of the materials you’re about to throw, like cardboard.


Choose local suppliers

As a small business wanting to grow and become sustainable, it’s better to collaborate with local suppliers to source your products’ manufacturing. There are plenty of benefits of this choice, like:

  • Reduced shipping and storage costs, resulting in more revenue and opportunities for future partnerships.
  • Cuts on supply chain cost by localizing it and spending less on logistics.
  • Greater control over your products’ standards. Communicating face-to-face with your suppliers will reduce any errors and clarify each other’s business needs.
  • Offering better prices for your customers.
  • Reduced risk of currency exchange. When partnering with suppliers overseas, you might experience fluctuations in exchange rates, which negatively impacts the price of the imported goods.
  • Reduced environmental impact through less carbon footprint. Internationally delivering or receiving materials means more trucks producing gas emissions.
  • Community benefits. Increasing local business partnerships means helping the economy in your area flourish.


Become an advocate for change

If you decided to become a green business, that might’ve come from the intention of saving the planet and making an effort to live in a healthy climate. Therefore, you need to be transparent about it and promote your beliefs by raising awareness among your employees and customers. Here are some things you could do:

  • Conduct workshops on sustainability. These can cover a broad range of subjects, from how to recycle at home to how to spot certain types of materials.
  • Donate to eco-charities to support their activities and actions for the future. Many NGOs aim to protect, analyze and monitor the environment against the degradation caused by human forces.
  • Participate in activities for planting trees. Due to deforestation, fewer trees are helping with absorbing carbon dioxide emissions, hence the negative impact on climate change.


Aim for green business certifications

Being sustainable can be beneficial for both the environment and your business. Therefore, if you want the company to be known for environmentally friendly practices and being transparent, you should try obtaining some green business certifications from trustworthy organizations. Besides the previous procedures, you need to conduct an environmental audit, and you’ll get custom advice regarding what changes are to be made to become a sustainable business.

There are many green certifications for each business category, so you don’t need to worry about not fitting into a program. For example, you could apply for a:

  • Commercial Green Building Certification that will assess, rate and certify if your business is environmentally friendly.
  • You can opt for an Overall Green Business Certification for a more holistic corporate view of each department of your business.
  • Green Product Certification for certifying your products and services as environmentally friendly (cleaning products, appliances)
  • Green Certification for food if you want to certify that your organic products meet all standards.

It’s important to obtain one or more green certifications in order to gain customers’ trust. Some companies are only greenwashing (making a false claim about their impact on the environment only for sales and profit), and it isn’t easy to trace their pathway, making customers doubt all businesses.

Being environmentally friendly is all about being aware of your surroundings and how you can improve your habits as a company. It’s easy to avoid the issues the planet is facing, but these consequences will also affect your enterprise one way or another. In conclusion, going green is the future of prosperous businesses.

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