How to make your small business more sustainable

It’s a term on the tip of the tongue of most people, and for good reason. For years many businesses got away with leaving sustainability at the bottom of their priorities list – but times are changing.

Many are taking a much more active approach for reasons beyond the obvious. Some may accept that more needs to be done to help the world, others may have to carry out specific tasks to comply with local laws, while there may be a select few who simply wish to jump on the growing consumer trend of sustainable goods and services.

Nevertheless, for small businesses, this is a very tricky field. While sustainable practices can have long-term benefits, they can be expensive to implement initially.

Bearing this in mind, let’s look at a few actionable tips and tricks you can implement to make your business more sustainable.

Measurement is key

While this first point is by no means a definite prerequisite, it will undoubtedly help in your battle to make those smaller improvements. There are now all sorts of carbon footprint calculators that can show you the impact your business is making on the world.

Educate your team

Your employees are likely to be some of your business’s biggest consumers of resources. As such, it’s vital that they understand the importance of sustainability and how they can help to improve things.

This could be as simple as sending out a company-wide email with a few essential pointers, or you could go one step further and organise training sessions or workshops. If you can get your team on board, they’ll be invaluable in your efforts to make your business more sustainable.

Assess your packaging

This is something that all businesses should be doing regularly, but it’s especially important for those in the retail sector. The packaging you use significantly impacts the environment, so it’s essential to ensure that it’s as sustainable as possible.

There are many ways to do this, such as using recycled materials, biodegradable packaging, or simply using less packaging overall. It’s also important to consider the packaging’s end destination – if it’s not recyclable, it’s not really sustainable.

Encourage sustainable travel

If your employees are travelling to meetings or clients, encourage them to use sustainable methods of transport where possible. This could include walking, cycling, using public transport or car-sharing. In fact, in today’s world, one could question if face-to-face meetings are always worthwhile or if Zoom could suffice.

If you want to go one step further, start questioning the meetings you’re hosting at your offices. While limiting external partner travel won’t affect your numbers, it can begin to set precedents when dealing with your company. It can also help reduce your own costs concerning insurance and other obvious expenses.

Go paperless

This is another one that’s particularly relevant for businesses in the retail sector. Using paper dramatically impacts the environment, so it’s essential to try and use it as little as possible.

There are several ways to do this, such as using electronic receipts, sending invoices electronically and using digital marketing methods instead of print.