Is the health and well-being of the workplace deemed a priority in your organization? The likely answer is yes. However, as issues such as climate change, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility gain more attention every day, business leaders worldwide are starting to revisit this question from an entirely new angle. Whether they are an owner of a small local coffee house or the head of a multimillion-dollar real estate brokerage, companies are increasingly starting to realize that their brand’s impact on the environment is not at all inconsequential. Nowadays, we’re seeing more and more businesses incorporating these topics into their practices and taking green environmental initiatives to help take better care of our planet. What if you decided to make your business more eco-friendly, too?
Well, for starters, your customers will no doubt love that idea. Studies show that consumers are more apt to support eco-friendly businesses. What is more, your organization will gain efficiency and reduce its costs while, at the same time, boosting employee motivation. This, in turn, will have a substantial impact on your long-term success and growth, as well as your bottom line.
#1 Incentivize green commuting
The fewer cars on the road, the better. But your employees do need to get to the office somehow, and we all know that convenience is the torchbearer when it comes to transportation options. This convenience, however, comes at a cost to the environment and our health.
With electric vehicles still in the minority, there’s no greener way to commute than by using public transportation – be it a bus, a train, or a vanpool, and employers can do whatever they can to encourage their personnel to bring these transportation options into play. They can do this by offering commuter benefits to their employees. These benefits can either be provided:
- directly (via a transit agency that offers subsidized passes for businesses), or
- indirectly (via human resources (HR) software that centralizes employee data).
Finally, consider a bike rack installation outside your business to incentivize employees and customers alike to leave their cars at home more often.
#2 Integrate a more sustainable materials strategy
Almost any item companies buy to ensure a well-functioning workplace – whether it be paper for printing, to-go containers, or cleaning products – has social and environmental effects at all levels of its chain of supply. For this reason, the trend of going green across the industries emphasizes the importance of sourcing green goods and services from local suppliers. This way, you’ll be able to avoid shipping products across long distances. This, in turn, saves on both packaging and fuel that is used for transport.
Another option to make your business more eco-friendly is to take advantage of online marketplaces, such as Ecorigem, dedicated to promoting products, solutions, and materials that are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and sustainable, but also affordable. While doing your research to figure out who you can partner with, ensure that their products are manufactured sustainably, recyclable or compostable, and don’t contain any toxic ingredients or come in excessive packaging. By integrating a more sustainable materials strategy into your brand, you are sure to conserve finite resources and keep the waste out of landfills.
#3 Reduce single-use items
We humans have a major problem with waste. Our heavy reliance on single-use items results in 150 million tons of plastic waste accumulated worldwide every year. That’s nearly the weight of the entire human population. This is the glaring example of the issues caused by the throwaway culture and prioritizing convenience above all. The rate at which we’re accumulating waste is staggering. What’s more, the world population is increasing, and economies are growing. If we keep following this produce-consume-dispose cycle we’re used to, soon enough, we could eventually be swimming in garbage.
The best way to keep waste from piling up in landfills? It’s simple – by never sending it there in the first place.
The order of the Rs matters. Before doing anything else, before reusing and recycling, that is, businesses should strive to reduce the usage where they can. For instance, they can swap disposable plates, cups, and utensils for real glass and ceramic or compostable or recyclable alternatives. Similarly, retail owners might consider giving up single-use plastic bags and replacing them with their reusable counterparts. These changes may seem small, but it’s a start.
#4 Make reusable office supplies a priority
Next, reuse whenever possible. For example, sticky notes and pens are only some of the supplies used in the office that significantly contribute to landfill waste. Employers can change this by encouraging their staff to:
- use both sides of the printer paper,
- bring their own mugs for coffee,
- purchase reusable silicone straws for the office,
- swap out regular pens for pens that can have their ink refilled;
- get rid of sticky notes and start taking digital notes,
- et cetera.
Also, there’s no reason for warehouses to get rid of structurally intact boxes when they can go another round. Many moving companies are going eco-friendly more and more each day, offering green moves along with their regular moving services. For them, the only right way to do this is by using recycled or reusable moving supplies.
#5 Implement recycling and composting measures
If you’d like to make your brand more environmentally friendly, recycling is another possibility. Municipal recycling efforts are improving day by day. Many cities are now adding recycling bins in public places and striving to simplify the recycling process as much as they can. Doing the same thing throughout your business can inspire both your staff and patrons to partake in your company’s environmentally-conscious practices.
#6 Use eco-friendly packaging
The EPA says that containers and packaging alone account for more than 23% of the material that reaches the US landfills. The good news is that you can substantially reduce your business’ pollution contribution by altering how you package your products. For starters, companies across industries are increasingly swapping out single-use containers for more sustainable packaging alternatives on the market. The options for alternatives include anything from sustainably sourced paperboard to plant-based alternatives and bioplastics.
In the end, packaging, being the bearer of the message that you’re trying to convey, is an essential part of your overall brand experience. So, besides depleting environmental impact, by making your business more sustainable, you are bound to leave an excellent impression.
#7 Make energy-efficient upgrades
Year after year, small enterprises in America consume more than $60 billion worth of energy. However, there’s still a lot you can do to reduce your company’s energy bill and, at the same time, shrink your carbon footprint. For instance, companies can:
- Invest in energy-efficient appliances;
- Switch from incandescent bulbs to LED lights;
- Automate lights with timers or sensors;
- Adding solar panels;
- Install better insulation;
- Invest in smart thermostats and high-efficiency heat pumps;
- Regularly clean and replace air filters;
- Take advantage of the natural light;
- Unplug electronics at night.
The truth is, a few changes such as these can make a world of difference, making your business more eco-friendly while helping you save thousands in the process each year.
#8 Reduce your water usage
Public institutions and businesses are liable for over 25% of the water used in cities. Therefore, even if it’s a small business that you own, you can still help take care of your planet by reducing your water usage. Water treatment and distribution take energy. In light of this, conserving allows your brand to uphold responsible practices that make your business more eco-friendly and save you a pretty penny. So, how can a company start to bring down its water usage? For starters, if there are any leaks on your property, fix them as soon as possible. A simple leaky faucet can result in 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year. Secondly, restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses dependent on water can consider installing low-flow fittings to reduce their water use.