Many businesses around the world want to prioritise sustainability in their business. For businesses that operate with large cashflows and profits, they are in a position to allocate budgets and resources towards developing more sustainable solutions without any significant impacts to their business. However, many small to medium size businesses that want to make a difference are unable to prioritise sustainability simply because the costs outweigh the benefits to them, as well as the difficulty for them to implement it into their business.
The best way for small to medium sized businesses to improve their sustainability is by encouraging eco-friendly habits within their organisation, upgrading their technology to more eco-friendly solutions and partnering with organisations that can help improve their organisation’s sustainability practices.
Here are a few simple ways businesses can improve sustainability within their business, without incurring any significant costs and ideally improving their business’s revenue.
Optimise your office to use more solar energy.
Many businesses have saved money and increased their business’s productivity by improving the solar light energy in their business or office. By opening windows, investing in skylights or even installing solar tubes, businesses will rely less on using artificial light, thus reducing energy consumption costs.
Additionally, exposing employees to natural sunlight is known to improve productivity, thus increasing revenue and profits.
Another way solar energy can be beneficial is by using solar heat to warm up the business premises during the cooler months of the year. This could be leveraged with insulation or double glazed technology to maintain heat within the business premises and reducing the need to rely on electric heaters. This will also reduce the business’s energy costs from heating over the long run.
Upgrading to energy efficient lighting.
One of the biggest contributions to carbon emissions comes from lighting. At least 15% of a business’s energy bill comes from the energy consumption that’s used by lights. Many businesses still use incandescent light bulbs which lose up to 90% of their energy through heat, making them very inefficient.
The most energy-efficient solution for businesses is to upgrade to LED light bulbs, which consume up to 80% less energy. This technology is good for the environment and for the small business which should save thousands of dollars in electricity costs in the future.
Minimising the business’s contribution to landfill.
This is one of the most significant factors that businesses have trouble managing. Poor habits within the business will encourage employees to dispose more, thus increasing the amount of litter that will go to landfill. The other major concern is that most of the litter that ends up in landfills take a long time to degrade. To minimise this, businesses can do the following.
Recycle office items.
There are several office items that are unused and that get disposed of. Rather than sending it straight to the landfill, create a dedicated area where staff can place unused items such as pens, pads and other office stationery, which can then be reused by other staff within the organisation. This will also reduce the business’s need to order new items and reduce overall stationery costs. Additionally, businesses can participate in cartridge recycling schemes to recycle used printer cartridges.
Get savvy about food waste.
Globally, 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions are a result of food waste. If your workplace has a cafeteria, lunchroom, or hosts catered events, chances are there are opportunities to reduce your business’ food waste. Hosted events can result in an abundance of left-overs, so either arrange with a local charity to collect any excess post-event, or let staff take food home with them. Review any food supplied in the workplace such as milk, fruit and snacks. If anything is regularly reaching its expiry date, it might be time to change your regular orders.
Avoid purchasing disposable items.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is purchasing disposable items for the office. Employees use an item once and then throw it away immediately. Items such as disposable cutlery, cups and napkins should be avoided.
Businesses should purchase reusable items to avoid waste. For example:
- Replacing disposable drinking cups, utensils or plates with glass, plastic, metal or ceramic alternatives.
- Replace disposable tissues with reusable wipes or towels.
- Make your business more print-savvy.
Many businesses lose thousands of dollars each year because of poor printing practices. Employees print unnecessarily, which costs the business’s more in paper consumption and ink cartridge replacements. Businesses can invest in printers that will hold any prints until approved with a swipe card from employees. This will also give employees more time to cancel any prints that may have been sent in error.
Invest in eco-friendly technology.
Businesses use several electrical devices which consumes a lot of electricity, especially for those technologies that depend on consumption for long periods of time. Look into solutions that can put electrical devices on standby or even turn-off the devices when they aren’t in use. For example, lights that turn off when an area sensor doesn’t trigger for a specified amount of time. Or a printer that shuts down when it hasn’t been activated for 10 minutes.
These are a few actions that your business can take to minimize any negative impacts on the environment. As you can see, these actions only require a bit of effort and a little bit of an investment. The rewards will not only be good for the environment, but for the future of the planet as well.