In the past, sustainable practices were considered outside the scope of doing business. But with the potential impact of climate change becoming more apparent than ever, the days of choosing whether or not to embrace sustainability have long gone.
These days, it’s almost universally accepted and sometimes openly expected that organizations play a part in helping limit global warming and doing their part to save the planet from irreparable damage. This is where sustainable business practices come in.
In the parlance of doing business, the sustainable approach is all about creating long-term value for the organization by setting and achieving social and environmental goals. It’s built on the assumption that these objectives are inseparable from the business’s corporate responsibility to foster company longevity. With this in mind, many businesses are transitioning to be more sustainable and are seeking different means of going about it.
Is your organization on a similar path, and are you are proactively looking for more ways to be sustainable? If so, below are five things that you can do to bake sustainability into your operations:
Explore Sustainable Manufacturing Processes
If your business involves producing a physical product, one way to pursue sustainability is to revisit your current manufacturing processes. Assess your current processes, streamline them, and rework them so that you can apply more sustainable manufacturing practices in different stages. In the packaging phase, for example, you can improve the methods and find more sustainable alternatives like switching non-biodegradable packing peanuts to biodegradable ones.
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Packing peanuts are cushioning materials used to prevent damage to fragile items during shipment. Traditionally, they’re made of expanded polystyrene foam or Styrofoam. But due to the material’s negative impact on the environment, more businesses are replacing them with starch-based packing peanuts.
On top of using eco-friendly packing peanuts, you can also work towards using recycled paper and cardboard for your packaging materials. Over time, you will be able to minimize the amount of packaging you use and thus generate less waste in your production process.
For businesses that want to expand their product lines but may not have big enough facilities or sufficient manpower to do so, there’s also the option to enter into a toll manufacturing agreement with a manufacturing partner that pursues sustainable methods.
If this is on the table for you, you’ll be able to benefit from your manufacturing partner’s sustainability expertise and production power without you having to build anything from scratch or consume even more energy and resources.
Source Materials Responsibly
Another thing you can do to ensure more sustainability within your organization is to ensure that the materials you source from outside vendors are done so responsibly. Find out if the materials were procured using sustainable practices and if your partners support fair labor practices like following fair-trade agreements and disallowing child labor.
As much as possible, source from local suppliers to improve your business’s environmental impact. When you source locally, couriers don’t have to travel too far, so there are fewer delivery delays. This, in turn, will reduce your business’s carbon footprint.
In addition, you’ll be able to support your local community and motivate stakeholders around you to be good stewards of their resources. Indeed, when you source materials responsibly, you can bolster your company’s social footprint and do right by your business, your local stakeholders, and the environment.
Minimize Energy Use
When it comes to your day-to-day business operations, you can make them more sustainable by reducing energy use. In an office-based environment, energy consumption comes primarily from lighting, cooling, and electrical appliances. If your office building has plenty of windows, take advantage of them and consider how many artificial lights you need to be switched on throughout the day.
Also, consider changing older lightbulbs to more energy-efficient LED bulbs. Installing sensors that switch off your lights when there’s no movement in your office space or setting timers on your office’s air conditioners can also help reduce your business’s energy use.
While these practices can help reduce energy consumption, you may also want to assess how you can transition to greener energy sources in the future. You can include this initiative in your organization’s long-term social and environmental goals.
For example, consider investing in the installation of solar panels to provide your business with free renewable energy. Although the installation of renewable energy systems requires a substantial initial investment, they’ll bring in huge energy savings for your business and will be less taxing on the environment.
Lessen The Use Of Plastic
On top of applying major changes in your business operations, you can also encourage simple sustainability-oriented behaviors and practices. For example, even the simple practice of reducing your company’s consumption of single-use plastic can have a significant impact on the environment.
It’s no secret that plastic waste is one of the main environmental hazards of today. Reducing the use of plastic within your organization is a sustainability effort that you can pursue now for the great benefit of our environment’s future.
As a start, give your employees reusable water bottles to help reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles. In stores, eliminate the use of plastic bags at checkout. You can also encourage store customers to bring and use their own reusable bags or containers by giving them incentives, for example, a discount on their purchases.
Educate Your Employees About Sustainable Practices
Lastly, even with your best efforts, remember that you won’t be able to make your business more sustainable if you work alone. If you want to succeed, you must also get your employees involved. Begin by educating your employees about the present environmental issues and how your business plans to help address them.
Doing so ensures that everyone in the organization understands the rationale behind the sustainable and eco-friendly changes you want to implement. You can do this by organizing lectures and webinars about sustainable practices or by providing corporate social responsibility training for your employees.
At present, many business owners consider sustainability as a must and key to their organization’s longevity. It’s no longer just an option, but an integral part of a business’s success.
If you also believe that this is the way to go, the approaches mentioned in this article can help you get started on the right path. Make all the necessary adjustments and additions for your business to be more sustainable, and strengthen its legacy beyond its attainment of profit.