7 Easy Habits That Will Make Your Business More Sustainable (and Save You Money)

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the taxpayers are yours.

Companies of all types are making sustainability a priority. In today’s world, a sustainable business model is practically a necessity. If you own a physical store, a tech startup or even a law firm, the time to adopt a sustainable business model is now.

While adopting sustainable practices may seem expensive or out of reach, there are many easy and cost-effective ways to integrate corporate sustainability into the fabric of your company.

Related: The 4 Principles of Innovation in Sustainability for Modern Brands

Ashlee Piper, sustainability expert and author of Give a damn: do good. Live better. Save the planet. says that corporate sustainability can come in many forms.

“There really isn’t a single rubric for sustainability… It’s really a personally developed adventure game, choose your own,” says Piper.

While small business owners with lower profit margins might be intimidated by the idea of ​​committing to a sustainable business model, Piper says small businesses are actually better positioned to adopt effective corporate sustainability practices because they are often more agile and adaptable than big companies.

What is corporate sustainability?

Corporate sustainability refers to transparent, long-term strategies that prioritize the environmental, social and ethical realities of your business. It is a broad term and can be implemented in many different ways.

Related: How to prepare your remote team for the future

Some companies may prioritize local sourcing or reduce carbon emissions, while others may emphasize returning a portion of their profits to NGOs or social programs. Certain employees may be interested in vegan and cruelty-free food options, while others are more concerned with closed-loop manufacturing. It is up to you to decide exactly which sustainable path to take and how to achieve those goals.

Piper suggests starting small and building momentum until you’re ready to implement a more robust corporate sustainability model in your business. Ultimately, you’ll want sustainability to be a core aspect of your business. In the long term, you should plan to hire consultants who are dedicated to your sustainability goals and even include sustainability efforts in your fiscal reports. You don’t have to start here (and you shouldn’t), but keep in mind that the greater the corporate sustainability actions you take, the more financial and ecological returns you’ll see in the long run.

Here are some tips that will help you drive corporate sustainability action in your small business and ultimately help you run a more sustainable business. First some easy fruits and then tips for building bigger projects that will help your business save money and become sustainable at its core.

1. Turn off

A super easy way to save costs and make your business more eco-friendly is to adopt a “shutdown” policy in your office. This means that all lights and devices are turned off at the end of the day.

Installing motion sensors for your lights or using energy-efficient lighting like LEDs will reduce energy usage. Finally, making the most of natural light is an effective way to save on energy costs and help your employees feel better in the office.

Related: 4 tips to take your startup sustainability to the next level

2. Remote first

One of the best ways to reduce your company’s carbon footprint is to make your business remote (or as remote as possible). Encourage your team members to work from home unless there is an explicit reason for them to come to the office.

According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, encouraging your employees to work remotely at least 50% of the time can save you around $11,000 per employee per year.

These significant financial savings are also related to a huge reduction in costs and energy consumption. By allowing your employees to work from home, you will reduce commute energy costs, powering an office and maintaining basic infrastructure.

A remote model will also help you save in some unexpected ways. Piper says remote workers are actually healthier, which significantly reduces the cost burden of health insurance and life insurance costs.

Related: Are fully remote companies the future?

3. Compost

If remote work isn’t an option at your company, composting is a relatively simple way to reduce office waste and save money.

Lunchtime is the most wasted time of the American day, says Piper. “We generate almost 10 kilos of trash per person during lunch, because we’re going out, buying lunch and all that jazz.”

Encouraging composting in your business is obviously a greener option, but it will also save you money. Piper estimates that you could reduce garbage bills by 40 to 50 percent by composting in the office.

4. Analyze your company’s earnings

Many companies love to give their employees all sorts of trinkets, like t-shirts and pens, to increase brand awareness and encourage staff to represent the company. Although well-intentioned, many of these gifts end up being wasted. Ask your employees what they really need and take that into consideration before buying branded baseball caps in bulk.

Related: 15 Startups that contribute to sustainability

5. Reduce travel

Traveling for work is expensive and carbon intensive. With virtual meeting platforms like Zoom the new norm, reconsider whether an in-person visit is really necessary or not.

If it is essential for you or your employees to travel for work, consider some of the ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Piper says forward-thinking companies like WeWork are taking some drastic steps to reduce their travel footprint.

“They are only booking LEED-certified hotels. They are just booking nonstop flights. They’re not in first or business class, because those seats take up a lot more space. They are not allowing people to check bags unless absolutely necessary.”

While this can be a more extensive and intimidating project to incorporate, take a hard line when it comes to traveling. You will mitigate many of the environmental and financial costs of business travel.

6. Encourage employee engagement

When you’re ready to take sustainability even more seriously, Piper says engaging your employees is one of the best places to start.

“Instead of the team-building trust-dropping activities that many of us have had to suffer through, there are a number of environmentally impacting team-building activities that people can do that really make a difference.”

It is up to each company to decide what its priorities are. Perhaps your employees can collect garbage in a neighborhood or raise funds for a local problem. The possibilities are virtually endless, so meet with your team members to discuss how they are most interested in getting involved in your company’s sustainability goals.

Related: How to turn sustainability into a brand and business force

7. Hire a sustainability consultant and audit

One of the biggest steps your company can take toward a serious commitment to corporate sustainability in its culture is to hire an in-house sustainability manager. A salaried employee is obviously an additional expense, but based on corporate sustainability principles, it’s an investment that can ensure your business survives and thrives into the future.

Making sustainability part of your business’s own strategic plan is another good long-term goal. This includes doing a sustainability audit or even including these practices in your annual reports.

Piper says an audit is very valuable because it shows how your company can improve its sustainability efforts. “Because you don’t really know unless you calculate where you are now… It’s no longer just a niche that Patagonia would have. It’s something that is now woven into the fabric of all kinds of companies, no matter the size.”

the heart of the business

Today, many customers demand that companies take corporate sustainability seriously, and there are many ways your team can do that. Start somewhere, even if it’s just offering workers refurbished laptops or furniture instead of new ones, or turning off the office lights at the end of the day. Before you know it, sustainable practices in your company will be at the heart of your growing business.

Related: Business sustainability: why change is needed now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.