Eco-Friendly Practices for Your Small Business

It’s impossible not to notice; in recent years, there’s been a real push towards putting eco-friendly practices into place. Not only in your home, but in your business as well. We won’t go into all the reasons why this is a good idea (of which there are a multitude), but there is one good reason to do so that you might not have considered: being a socially and environmentally friendly company can actually help you build your business!

Just like you, your customers look for companies that share their values. If your customer is eco-conscious, they’re going to want to do business, and share their money, with companies that mirror this ideal. According to Environmental Magazine, “almost 90% of consumers see companies that support social and environmental issues in a positive light. Another 88% of customers tend to remain loyal to these businesses.”

What’s more, when you’re looking to hire staff, your eco-friendly practices will have an extra added bonus. People want to work where the employer shows a socially-conscious mindset, knowing this will translate to how they care for their employees, day-to-day. It’s a subtle distinction, but with all other advantages being equal, if a candidate has a choice between a company that has environmentally-friendly policies and one that doesn’t…well, guess which one they’re more likely to pick.

If you aren’t already doing so, there are quite a few surprisingly simple practices that you can start today.

Go Paper- and Plastic-free. Paper and plastic. The stuff is everywhere. Think about it…how many pieces of paper do you use each business day? Then consider that number multiplied by every person in your organization.

Your first step is to encourage everyone in your company to communicate electronically. Share meeting documents digitally instead of creating “hand-outs.” Ask your team to not print out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary.

We get it, some paper is needed during the course of business. But make sure you’re recycling what you must use, too. Create more recycling bins than you think you need. Then put them everywhere; at each desk, next to the copier, and in the kitchen.

If you have a sample room, be sure you clearly specify and label “fabric” bins vs. “paper” bins vs. “plastic” bins. Make sure everyone knows where they are and that they are expected to use them.

Don’t forget to consider plastic products as well. Again, from Environmental Magazine, “we produce over 300 million tons of plastic annually. About 50% of these products are for single-use purposes. Meanwhile, about 8 million tons of plastic gets dumped into the ocean every year!”

There’s a simple and cost-saving solution to this too. You can encourage your team to use refillable water bottles and coffee mugs by simply NOT buying or providing single-use cups, glasses and plastic flatware for them. Equip your company break room with real flatware, glasses and mugs.

Use Compost Bins. Composting isn’t just for backyard gardens. Think about it. Everyday we throw away food scraps and other items that have value as compost. So why not add compost bins to your office? The compost you create can help enrich a company garden or the building’s exterior plants. Make a list of common compostable items, and send out an email with the list.

Interestingly, and unbeknownst to most, even torn up plain corrugated cardboard boxes (not with glossy coatings) and plain old paper products like napkins and paper towels can go into the compost.

Plants. It’s bring a plant to work day! Plants can help reduce health symptoms caused by poor ventilation, including headaches and respiratory issues. What’s more, if you remember your high school science, you’ll remember that plants naturally purify the air.

Beyond that, adding plants to the office is a great visual reminder to your team to think green.

Eco-friendly Cleaning Products. A quick glance at the cleaning products aisle in any store will show you that there are many eco-friendly cleaning products available. It’s a category that has come a long way and with a little discernment you can easily eliminate many products that add harmful chemicals to the workplace. It can also help reduce pollution that’s causing global climate change and ozone depletion.

Another tip: consider the packaging. Choose products that utilize less packaging (think refillable) and are packaged in sustainable materials.

Practice Green Procurement. This one isn’t always easy, but with some effort can make a big difference. Green procurement involves sourcing services and products produced using sustainable methods. It also means identifying local suppliers who can provide the products and services you need. Buying local means the product will have to travel less, which can reduce CO2 emissions.

Prioritize products that can be recycled and are produced from recycled materials. Don’t use excessive packaging.

Reduce Water and Energy Usage. Not only will you conserve a valuable environmental resource, it can actually help save money.

Job one: make sure to fix any dripping taps or leaks throughout the office. And consider adding low-flow appliances to your washrooms instead.

You can reduce building emissions by adding solar and geothermal systems to your workplace. This is a little more complicated if you lease your space, but talk to your landlord anyway. There are many rebate and incentive programs available to building owners.

Encourage Remote Work. One business change we saw as a by-product of the COVID-19 quarantine was the trend toward Work From Home (WFH). Working remotely will cut out long commutes, which add pollution to the air. Instead, consider using video calls to communicate with your team.

Some businesses have adopted a hybrid WFH model. Staggered workdays at the office with workdays at home is a solution that works for many companies. Also making the switch to cloud computing formats can help your team remain productive while reducing carbon emissions, too.

Spread the Word. As you make your company more and more sustainable, but sure to spread the word. For example, be on the lookout for sustainable partnerships in the area. Organize with your local government and other businesses to discover new sustainability best practices. Lead the way instead of following the pack.

Don’t forget, let your customers know about your mission of building and maintaining a sustainable business. Again, people love to buy from companies that are eco-aware.

Donate. What if your company ends up with deadstock fabric? Yes, you could sell it to a jobber for pennies on the dollar. Better still, you could donate it. Fashion schools, trade schools, even some high schools will happily accept your donated fabrics and trims. Some will even pick it up. We also recommend you talk to your company accountant about the potential tax savings that come from donations.

In closing, don’t hide your sustainability practices under a bushel. Shout them out to the world, loud and clear. And don’t just say it, show it! Make sustainability part of your company’s mission statement. And share that mission with your customers via your advertising and website.

We’d love to hear about your plans for your brand. Feel free to reach out to us at https://tegintl.com/get-in-touch/ or call us at 800-916-0910.

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