Why try to be more sustainable?
Surveys show consumers care about the environment and climate change.
Sustainability is no longer just a “trend”. It’s a conscious decision that businesses are making to protect the future of the planet and positively impact their communities. Not only does transitioning into more sustainable practices help the world around you, but it can also save you money and contribute to the health and happiness of your team.
But how to go about it? If you're looking for ideas, try these suggestions to improve your business's sustainability – and remember, even minor changes can make a difference!
(Read more on sustainable marketing here.)
1) Purchase wisely
When purchasing products or services for the workplace, consider where it’s made and their carbon footprint.
Can you buy locally or from a sustainable vendor? The item or service may be cheaper from further away, but it’s helpful to look at the whole life cycle of the product rather than just the individual cost to you. For example, products like bottled water and Styrofoam cups are cheap to purchase but have a high long-term cost to the environment. If you're using these, try adding a filter to your tap water and encourage employees to fill up their reusable water bottles instead.
Avoid single-use plastics. Consider if the item can be reused. For example, switch to refillable ink cartridges that cut down on discarded toner units. Reusables can save money as well. *
If your company is looking for customer gifts or conference giveaways, consider items made of recycled material or something not likely to be thrown away.
2) Be strategic about travel
Would a video meeting work instead of traveling to meet face-to-face? If travel is necessary for your business, can you minimize it by routes or zones to save on gas? If you have company vehicles, consider a hybrid or electric model when it’s time to replace them. Where practical, encourage office employees to carpool and offer work-from-home options, or four-day weeks. Think about the costs of holding team gatherings or traveling to conferences; consider the tradeoffs with virtual options and other marketing tactics.
3) Reduce Waste
If your business still sends paper invoices, consider switching to digital. Buy paper with recycled content and encourage recycling of all paper. Another way to reduce paper waste is to remind your staff to print and photocopy on both sides of the paper. This can cut the amount of paper used in half.
Another idea is to provide color-coded recycle bins and station these by the printer or photocopier to encourage staff to dispose of their paper waste correctly.
Those working from home can save paper, too. And if paper recycling isn’t available, shredded paper can be added to a home compost bin.
4) Save energy
Energy-saving lightbulbs also help reduce your power bill. Encourage employees to turn off lights and computers when not in use, especially on weekends or holidays. You might even install automatic lights and use a programmable thermostat set adjusted for the season. Wonder what temperature is best for saving energy? Check out this guide.
And when you need new office appliances, look for energy-efficient ones with the ENERGY STAR ® logo or items that are EPEAT registered.
5) Add plants and trees
Office plants help remind people of the importance of the environment; they also can make people feel happier.
Peace lilies and spider plants are easy to grow and help cleanse the air.
If you own the building, consider planting additional trees outdoors. For those with home offices, a tree adds value to your landscaping and cuts down on mowing time. Or convert grassy areas into flower gardens for the butterfly highway.
6) Ship Responsibly
Order multiple items from the same place at once with no-rush shipping. You may save on shipping costs this way, but even if shipping is “free”, rushed packages mean more trucks clogging roads in cities—which contributes to increased traffic and pollution.
7) Support the community
Consider sponsoring non-profit or organizing group events to support your local community. Or you can offer time off or consider compensating employees for volunteering. Here is an example: https://cleanup.earthday.org/pages/find-a-cleanup
8) Engage your team
Offer a contest or “green” challenge for your employees to think of, or contribute to, additional ideas to support your sustainability goals.
9) Communicate your Efforts
Publicize your actions and achievements by posting them on your website and on social media. Consumers and sustainable companies want to do business with companies that share their values - and your endeavors might encourage others to do the same!
There are many ways to improve your environmental credentials in the workplace and your community that are worth trying. They may also result in happier staff and lower expenses. Plus, mother nature will thank you!
Do you have additional suggestions or stories of what your company does? Please add them in the comments.
For more information and inspiration:
The Carbon Almanac - ideas, data, perspectives, and resources to help us understand the realities of climate change and what we can do to fight it. https://thecarbonalmanac.org/
Examples of sustainable companies with 250+ ee
And a few more suggestions: https://www.elle.com/life-love/a28035727/easy-ways-to-be-sustainable/
* Did you know that Target gives consumers 5 cents for each reusable bag? Branded, reusable totes can also be a good option for swag.