“Looking at the world through a sustainability lens not only helps us ‘future proof’ our supply chain, it also fuels innovation and drives brand growth.”
– Paul Polman
People often say the hardest part of any project is getting started, but how do you sustain your success while mitigating your impact on the environment when your business has already held its grand opening and is looking to develop a consistent client base? With the internet allowing for near-instantaneous communication, new avenues have arisen for businesses and entrepreneurs to reduce impediments that, in the past, made competing with the bigger fish in the business pool seem like an insurmountable task. Here are a few ways your company can close the gap and become more sustainable without going to exorbitant lengths or trying to reinvent the wheel.
Reduce, Reuse, Reinvigorate
Sharing is caring, as the old saying goes. You can apply this thinking to your business by utilizing shared Google documents to allow for the seamless transferal of files between employees. These days, businesses no longer need brick-and-mortar facilities to maintain a presence in the minds of the consumer and keeping information transfers electronic will save your business on expenses like printer toner and paper, while also being easier on the environment.
Telecommuting is another option that promotes sustainability. It’s becoming the new norm, and in some cases, businesses don’t even require a physical office. The key is having open lines of communication between employees. By becoming a strictly online presence, businesses can save on what is for many their greatest expenses, which include real estate, office supplies, and utilities. This newfound freedom has opened the gates for plenty of small businesses to compete with the bigger corporations, while keeping in mind the environmental and social impacts your business will have.
In the Know
Marketing and brand awareness can be a challenge for small businesses. Customers can’t utilize your service if they don’t understand how or where to find your business. Having a strong online presence can eliminate or at least mitigate this obstruction. With services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, consumers can provide near-instantaneous feedback. The great thing about social media is that it’s not just a one-way conversation. Businesses have the ability to engage customers to deal with potential problems or to put out positive messaging to reinforce their brand or mission statement.
Set Your Sights
Establishing tangible goals for your company can have a massive impact on how well your company achieves its sustainability targets. Whether it’s eliminating the use of single-use plastics in the office, setting up a green bin for biodegradable waste, or creating targets for the length of time between garbage changes, setting goals that the entire office can work towards together as a team can help increase the cohesiveness of your business’ efforts towards sustainability. Perhaps you work sustainability into a new mission statement or split employees into teams and reward the group that successfully mitigates waste the best. Whatever your plans for increasing sustainability in the workplace, you can enhance these efforts by including everyone and turning it into a game or competition that benefits the entire company.
Whether your plan is to increase sustainability in the office, set targets to help your workplace become more eco-friendly, or utilize technology to eliminate the need for an office at all, there are many ways for a small business to lessen their carbon footprint without breaking the bank. The key is in finding ways to utilize technology that bridges the gap once filled by non-reusable wastes.
Any office can become an environmentally sustainable one through a few minor tweaks. By putting the social, economic, and environmental concerns first and foremost, companies can improve their standing in consumers’ eyes and be equal to the bigger corporations they’re competing with.
Joshua Cooper | Contributing Writer