Sustainability is rapidly becoming an imperative for business. According to shipping company Sendle, 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to protect the environment. Companies taking advantage of this shift in consciousness can be part of an entirely new market. Here are six tips for making your company sustainable.
1. Digitize Infrastructure
Even basic office infrastructure comes with a large carbon footprint. Utilities like lighting, heating, and cooling entail a cost for the environment and your budget. The same is true of computers, but virtual systems offer a valuable way to mitigate this: virtual spaces. The benefits of working from home have been on display for the past two years. Meetings can be held entirely via project management systems. Costly commutes have become unnecessary for team coordination. Programming advancements like low code have made applications easily customizable for startup entrepreneurs. Leverage these leaps in automation to cut your overhead and your impact.
2. Go Paperless
Another benefit of digital office spaces is the ability to go almost entirely paperless. The project management tools previously mentioned are a good example. File sharing and saving capabilities often come with the software suite. If you have to use paper products, source recycled paper. When finished, pay it forward by recycling again. Since offices across the U.S. consume an estimated 12 trillion sheets of paper annually, now is a great time to help end this wasteful practice.
3. Source Products Sustainably
Take a hard look at your suppliers. Do they integrate commitments to environmental responsibility into their production? Do they pay their employees or producers a fair wage? Are the products made with biodegradable or low-impact materials? Research the supply chain from start to finish. Check to see if their storage and transport services use green energy. Look for sustainable packaging materials like degradable bubble wrap or bagasse paper (made from sugarcane). Sustainability should be integral to their business practices at all levels.
4. Adopt Green Energy
Possibly the most radical change you can make is utilizing green energy. This move is becoming easier all the time, especially concerning solar energy. Advancements in photovoltaic cell efficiency have dropped utility-scale production costs to levels competitive with fossil fuels. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy figures, residential solar panel costs are currently under $5 per watt.
The efficiency of solar energy and the incentives for installation vary by municipality, so research these changing mandates and initiatives thoroughly. Although initial setup costs can be high, the investment is very likely to pay off down the road. Consider green energy a long-term investment in a better tomorrow.
5. Incorporate Green Design Principles
All companies require some physical space. Creating that space in a way that puts it in harmony with nature can save money and resources. The most straightforward measure is incorporating nature directly into your living and working spaces. NASA research has found that some houseplants can help purify the air, and other studies have found a link between ambient nature and worker health and productivity. The link is especially acute for the practice of “daylighting,” which means maximizing your use of natural daylight.
Shopping specifically for energy-efficient appliances is another worthwhile option. The EnergyStar program is a good place to start shopping for electronics that can help streamline your energy use and minimize utility costs.
6. Cut Waste With Upcycling
Having a company recycling program is a great idea. Minimizing loss by being conscious of waste is another smart move. The best idea might be something a bit more radical. Upcycling is the art of finding new uses for items assumed to be trash. Before you discard broken items, ensure that there isn’t another business process that could incorporate them. Check out these online resources to find simple hacks and tactics to turn your trash into treasure.
A few simple changes can massively increase your company’s sustainability. Don’t just put these strategies into action behind the scenes: They should be a visible part of your company’s vision and mission.