In this insightful guest post, Debbie Woodliffe from communication solutions firm Affinity, delves into the advantages of integrating sustainability into your business. Discover practical steps to embark on this journey towards a more sustainable future.
Sustainability in business is essential these days – over the last few years, research has shown that customers (especially Gen Z) are actively choosing brands that speak up for and practise sustainability over those that don’t. Considering how easy it is to make your business part of the green wave, we should all be doing it.
So, let’s explore a few adaptations you can make to give yourself a competitive advantage in the market…
Why be more sustainable in business
Practising sustainability in business is not only an ethical choice; it’s also a strategy to ensure long-term success. The awareness of the ecological impact that products and services have is growing, and your customers (and employees) are looking more and more into which companies they are willing to support. More than half of consumers worldwide said they deemed environmental responsibility fundamental when selecting a brand.
Not only will your customers expect you to speak up for sustainability, but you’ll also be a part of the minority if you don’t. Out of 10 European companies, nearly nine have stated they plan to boost their sustainable marketing budget to any degree in the next few years. If you don’t jump on the chance now, your brand could fall behind the pack.
How to be more sustainable in business
Including more sustainable methods within your business can be simple, and you may have already implemented some without knowing. While some practices will depend on your business and industry, here are a few which can be applied to most companies:
1. Staying Local
By sourcing materials locally or outsourcing to trusted local suppliers, you can reduce the need for long-distance travel and transportation.
For companies involved in the food industry, local food sourcing reduces the carbon footprint associated with the transportation of food. For others, like those in retail, using national delivery services instead of your own reduces emissions. Supporting local suppliers or using existing services instead of implementing new ones can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient supply chain.
In short, staying local can help minimise environmental impact, benefitting both the environment and the local community.
2. Be Remote
If your company structure allows, letting your employees work remotely is a great sustainable option. It can be incredibly effective in increasing sustainability and employee morale because:
- It reduces the need for daily commutes, which can help decrease your transport-related emissions.
- Working from home can also result in lower air pollution and traffic congestion.
- By having fewer employees in the office, you might reduce the energy consumption associated with the building, such as heating, lighting and other office-related equipment.
- Remote work can also help improve work-life balance, leading to better job retention and a reduced turnover rate, which can mean fewer resources spent on recruitment.
3. Encourage Recycling
Promoting recycling to both your customers and your employees has many positive impacts, environmentally and socially, this is often known as part of the circular economy.
You can do this by making paper, plastic and electronic waste recycling easy and accessible for your employees. This will foster a green and environmentally conscious culture, boosting employee morale, engagement, and satisfaction. These simple changes feed into your competitive advantage with your customers and staff, as employees are increasingly becoming more appreciative of working for a socially responsible company.
Don’t let the encouragement end there. Provide your customers with recyclable packaging where possible to foster sustainability once it’s in-market. Many product packaging and label manufacturers have their own environmental philosophies and offer a variety of eco-friendly labels that can increase your sustainability. If they’re accredited, they should also be able to advise on the messaging you can use on the packaging.
4. Go Green Everywhere
Going green in every aspect is a great way to ensure your business stays sustainable.
A few options you can adopt are using LED lighting, investing in the latest technology, having electric/hybrid company cars with charging points on site and implementing solar panels. You could also use green cleaning products, automated sensor taps to conserve water, green energy providers or buildings with high-energy efficiency.
While these may not all be possible for your business, using even a few of these methods will lower your environmental impact.
5. Be Charitable
Where you can’t make sustainable adjustments, consider donating to charity to offset those issues.
You could donate products that aren’t saleable due to imperfections or misshapes to prevent them from going to a landfill. You could also give them to charities doing their bit to improve global sustainability, such as Surfers Against Sewage, Rewilding Britain or FareShare.
6. Reduce Waste
Reducing your company’s waste is another way to become more sustainable. You may need to identify your sources of waste through a waste audit to get this process started.
For example, if you generate organic waste like vegetable peelings or plant cuttings, consider implementing a composting program. Alternatively, you might be in a position to go paperless with your communications and accounts departments. Or you may be able to invest in slightly more expensive but longer-lasting equipment or extended warranties.
Figure out where most of your waste comes from, and adjust your approach accordingly.
Next steps for sustainability
Now, how can you start practising better sustainability?
- Conduct an audit of your business.
- Identify which areas you need improvement on, whether that’s waste management, sourcing, technology, recycling or reducing carbon emissions.
- Once you know your weaknesses, research how you can improve.
- Figure out any additional costs these changes may require and the time you might need to implement them.
- Make an action plan for your new sustainable strategies and begin to put them in place.
Embracing sustainability is not just a responsibility; it’s an opportunity to thrive in a changing world. By adopting more eco-friendly practices, your business could start forging the way for a brighter and more sustainable future. So, how are you going to get started?
Debbie is an experienced writer currently based in the UK working at Affinity Agency for clients such as Abbey Labels and other eCommerce businesses. She has been a part of the creative and writing industries for more than a decade and aims to generate content that inspires, educates, and helps her audience thrive.
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