It is no longer a debate that everyone must do their part to help preserve the planet on both the individual and the industry level — it is a fact. According to the UNF Center for Sustainable Practices, building a sustainable business is based on three principles: people, planet, and profit.
What this means is that every company needs socially responsible strategies that care for these three interlinked principles. In other words, watch out for your employees and make sure your supply chain isn’t violating human rights. Ensure your operations run in an environmentally friendly way, all while remaining a profitable business.
You do not need to be a nonprofit or a clean energy organization to operate in a greener way or promote sustainable practices. With everyone chipping in, there are steps any business can take to become greener. We explore a few simple but crucial steps any company can take towards this goal.
Sustainable Business Travel
Whenever possible, replace a flight for a meeting with a video conference. If your business does not have that level of infrastructure, look into lower-impact transportation for the trip, such as trains. Trains have first-class compartments, so travel can be equally (if not more) comfortable. Plus, you have the added benefits of arriving straight in the center of town.
If the trip is too long and flying is unavoidable, try booking via travel agencies that work to offset the carbon emissions of the flight you booked through them.
A similar green principle applies to the daily commute. Encourage employees to walk (if possible), cycle into the office, carpool, or use public transport rather than cars. If your organization offers certain employees company cars, make sure they are hybrids or fully electric ones.
Make sure to use as little paper and plastic as possible, and recycle when you do. To make things more fun for employees, you could put together a committee to brainstorm on how to make office life more eco-friendly. Encourage new ideas that will make the workspace greener.
The first move would be to replace basic materials with greener alternatives: everything from the bathroom’s paper towels to whatever snacks and coffee you have available. There are sustainable brands for all these necessities that don’t break the bank.
If your company has old electronics or technology that you need to get rid of, make sure that you dispose of it safely rather than simply throwing things in the dumpster.
A more environmentally friendly office can even include the architecture itself. If you’re about to build a new office, you can consult architects and interior designers that are knowledgeable in sustainable practices. Be sure to recycle or upcycle anything you would have thrown away from the old office.
Alternative Team Outings
If you are planning a team-bonding day with colleagues or scheduling an annual outing, consider bonding over a green initiative. Do a company-wide beach clean up if you’re close to the water, a tree-planting day, or plan a hike instead of a barbecue.
There are plenty of low-impact activities for a pleasant day away from the desk. Besides, the feeling of doing something good together will form a tighter bond amongst the group.
If your company makes packaged products, there are plenty of design studios that work with recyclable materials. They can advise you on how to approach making your packaging greener and design it for you.
There are many ways to go about packaging. Consider recyclable designs, reusable designs, bioplastics instead of regular plastics, or an overall reduction in packaging. Professionals on the matter will let you know what works best for your specific product and brand.
Greener Production and Resources
Admittedly, this is the hardest and most time-consuming step to take, but it is also the most important. Procurement departments need to thoroughly scan their supply chain and replace highly-pollutive materials with better alternatives. The same goes for waste management and energy consumption in production.
These are complicated processes, but many sustainability consultants can guide you through such a massive undertaking in small, manageable increments.
Although some steps may take longer than others, there are solutions available to every business to become greener on a smaller or larger scale. Focus on a few key areas to improve, engage your workforce to work towards solutions, ask external experts, and you will get there.
Remember, our planet and future generations depend on it. Your business will also enjoy the many benefits of sustainability!