There are any number of reasons why business owners start thinking about what they can do to make their companies more environmentally friendly –the benefits are many. The more difficult question lies in how business owners should actually go about doing so.
When aspiring to make your business greener, there are a lot of areas that can be addressed to reduce the business’s effect on the environment, and overall footprint. Some of the more commonly taken actions are as follows:
1. Reducing your resource consumption
2. Switching your business energy to a green supplier
3. Minimising waste and maximising recycling opportunities
4. Investing in energy efficient equipment, e.g. computers
While these are all good elements of a business to address in a bid to be more sustainable, there is one thing that has the potential to make a huge difference, yet is all too often overlooked.
It may not be the easiest change to make in your business – and it’s certainly not the most glamourous – but it can make a much bigger difference to greening your business, and sustainability overall when compared to something more simple, like switching out your lightbulbs for more energy efficient alternatives.
An amazing 30% of landfill waste comprises packaging – meaning that almost one third of waste can be tackled by reviewing how your business deals with and uses packaging.
A ‘need-only’ basis
When it comes to packaging, try to steer your business in the direction of only using what you actually, definitively need. If you package your own products, try to eliminate packaging that exists for the sake of marketing or decorative purposes. For example, a green grocer could display all of its fruit and veg loose in large containers, rather than individually packaging a bag of potatoes or half a dozen apples.
What’s it made of?
If you do need to use certain types of packaging in your business’s line of work, then make the effort to only source recyclable, compostable and biodegradable materials. This is a very small change that can make a serious impact – especially when it comes to landfill waste. Alternatively, try to source ‘lightweight’ packaging materials. For example, lighter paper or cardboard uses less natural resource than the standard alternatives.
Reuse and repurpose
Again, if you do have to have some form of packaging in your business’s daily operations, consider whether or not this packaging could fulfil another purpose once removed. Can you reuse bags for storage or transportation purposes? Or, if bags aren’t likely to be of any use to you, could you see that products are sent in crates rather than bags. Even if the second purpose or reuse for the packaging isn’t something you particularly need, maybe your neighbours, or someone else in your community could use it.
You can improve the overall sustainable footprint of your business by encouraging your customer to go green, too. For example, you can charge for carrier bags (or don’t offer them at all) to try and incentive consumers to reuse this type of packaging. Many businesses – namely supermarkets – already employ this technique – with great success.
Choose your suppliers carefully
The importance of a sustainable supply chain is all too apparent in the business world. Try to choose green suppliers, and consider how businesses that you associate with manage their packaging and waste, too.
So, whilst packaging may not be the first thing that jumps into your head when pondering your ‘go green’ business options, it can make a big difference – to your business, to your community, and to global sustainability. ,____________
About the Author
Having had a keen interest and passion for sustainability and green issues for many years, Hannah now combines that passion with the world of small and startup businesses in her writing. You can contact Hannah via Twitter and Google +, or learn more about business energy at www.makeitcheaper.com