Creating sustainability in business operations is not only eco-friendly, but can generate sales and save on energy costs. Today’s average consumer is well-educated about the environmental effects of human activity and is ready to contribute to change, even if that means paying a bit more money to sustainable businesses.
Sustainable practices, such as corporate social responsibility, are a growing trend that’s being driven by the Millennial Generation. When your company practices good CSR, customers will notice and people will appreciate it! According to a 2014 global Nielsen survey,
55% of consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from businesses that implement sustainable practices.
Similarly, a 2013 study by Cone Communications found that 71 percent of Americans take the environment into account when they shop. This number was up from 66 percent in 2008. What used to be considered going above and beyond in sustainability is now the norm.
By integrating environmentally-friendly practices into your business, you can boost your bottom line, as well as your credibility and accountability to customers.
Every little bit helps, so beginning to green your business can be as small as replacing pod coffee makers that produce waste with every cup with industrial-sized ones. You can also replace disposable drink cups and provide reusable ones instead. If it’s in your budget, it might be a good idea to offer employees reusable cups for both their hot and cold beverages.
Other little ways you can practice sustainability include:
Encouraging employees to bring refillable water bottles.
Providing a hot/cold water dispenser and delivery service.
Using bulk containers for condiments.
Composting kitchen waste and having it picked up by local growers or a recycling service.
Replacing paper towels with air hand dryers in bathrooms and kitchens.
Here are some other straightforward ways to make your company more sustainable.
Consider Making Your Business Paperless.
Whether your business is large or small, new technology now makes the transition from paper formats to digital ones much easier than in the past. However, that doesn’t mean that going paperless is an easy thing to do.
Instead, it’s simply the right thing to do if you have the resources and it works well all around for your business. In the long run, switching to a digital format can offer some great benefits. But first, here are some not-so-fun facts about the impact of paper waste.
Producing paper takes twice as much energy as producing a plastic bag.
14 percent of global wood harvesting goes to making paper.
50 percent of business waste is paper.
Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 682 gallons of oil, and 26,000 liters of water.
More than ⅓ of our trash is due to packaging.
Paper accounts for 33 percent of municipal waste and 25 percent of landfill waste.
An average-sized tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people.
Going paperless can make a serious difference for the environment, and here are some other great reasons to ditch the paper.
It’s cost-effective. When you consider how much you may be paying for paper, postage, ink and other printing supplies, going paperless can save you plenty of money long-term. In addition, think about how much space is taken up by printing equipment and storage of supplies.
You will always have easy access. When all of your files are in a digital format, you can back them up and access them via a remote desktop application from a mobile or home office. This allows you to work wherever, whenever, and always stay productive.
No more cumbersome documents and file cabinets. Digital file systems are easier to organize and search through, making research a less bulky experience and finding documents less frustrating and confusing.
Incorporate Green Procurement.
Green procurement refers to the sourcing of products and services that are produced and supplied with sustainability. These goods cause minimal adverse ecological impacts, and this way of acquiring goods involves both environmental and human health concerns in the search for high quality and eco-friendly products and services.
The Green Procurement Compilation (GPC) is a purchasing resource for program managers and federal contracting personnel that consolidates federal environmental program information in one place.
A great place to start with green procurement for your business is to buy from local suppliers, both to support the local economy and to save on energy and transport costs to get the goods to you.
Here are the main points of green procurement policies.
Manufactured in a sustainable fashion.
No ozone-depleting or toxic materials.
Produced from recycled materials and/or is recycled.
Made from renewable materials.
Little to no excessive packaging.
Designed to be reusable and repairable.
Go Solar with a Commercial Solar Loan.
Going solar can be a significant expense that holds many back from making the idea a reality. However, more small-to-medium-sized businesses are able to take advantage of this sustainable transition today because of commercial solar loans. This type of financing can make the purchase and installation of your solar system much more affordable.
A commercial solar loan allows your business to capitalize on federal solar investment tax credits to join the green business movement and reap the cost benefits. You can finance through a bank or other private lender, or you may be eligible for a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) loan.
There are valuable benefits of a CPACE loan, including lower transaction costs and long-term financing with lower monthly payments.
Establish Industrial Recycling Services.
If you want to green up your industrial manufacturing facility, you can reduce your costs and your environmental impact by outsourcing industrial recycling services to include plastic, metal, pallets, cardboard, and other reusable materials.Switching from multiple providers to one industrial recycling provider is especially important for your industrial facility. It’s imperative that your recycling service is seamless and fully integrated with your operations. In addition, you can maximize your revenue with lower material waste costs.
When you’re on the lookout for a good industrial recycling service, it’s essential to find a company that works as an extension of your business.
Empower Your Employees.
Everything you need to know about empowering employees, you learned in kindergarten. Using the Golden Rule as your guide, you can create mutual respect and loyalty with your employees. Simply being supportive and showing kindness can be highly motivating for them.
Additionally, according to a recent Forbes article, there are ten powerful ways to empower those who work for you, including:
Provide some wiggle room (with boundaries). Have confidence in employees and allow them to have the freedom to act under certain situations when you’re not there.
Have faith in your employees. You don’t have to wait for a team of superstars to show up. Find what each employee does best and foster it.
Offer growth paths. Every employee needs room to grow professionally to avoid stagnation, or even worse, a complacency that leaves them paralyzed to change their situation.
How is all of this empowerment green? The answer is that you work cooperatively with the good points of your existing employees, reducing the need for new employees who quit because of dissatisfaction or are terminated due to poor employee performance. You consider your employees usable as they are, and you conserve your energy for investing in them.
Brett Farmiloe is the CEO of digital marketing company Markitors and advisor for an online EdD in Organizational Leadership. He is also a backyard chicken farmer who frequently contributes content to Forbes and Huffington Post.