Small businesses don’t have the same economic impact as the big guys. However, they can help normalize environmentally-conscious business practices. So a smaller-scale operation allows businesses to implement sustainable operations on a broader scale. Moreover and influence local communities more directly.
Therefore, here are seven green ways your small business can make a big difference.
Offer Remote Work Options
Many companies switched to remote work by necessity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet but now we know it has some impressive environmental benefits. It also reduces travel emissions. For it lightens traffic and allows businesses to use fewer office resources. So if a handful of small businesses in the same area offer remote and hybrid work options, the positive effects will spread throughout the community.
Now apply that same logic to a larger scale. If a majority of small businesses throughout the United States offered alternative work options to the standard driving commute, our fuel emissions and collective carbon footprint could dramatically reduce.
Give Back to the Community
Small businesses leave a smaller ecological footprint than industry titans, which means they can offset more of their environmental damages by giving back to the community in little ways:
- Start a promotion (a tree planted for every X products sold).
- Donate a percentage of your profits to environmental programs.
- Collaborate with environmental programs or other small businesses to plan a fundraiser.
- Use green web hosting to carry out eco-friendly initiatives.
These efforts will also improve your brand awareness and reputation in the local area. Consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever and want to buy from businesses with solid ethics and community involvement.
Create a Resourceful Workspace
Small businesses can establish themselves in sustainable workspaces and help pave the way for more ethical building practices in the future. They can create a green office in many ways:
- Set up shop in a facility with renewable energy.
- Incorporate natural building materials (stone, wood, etc.)
- Rely on natural light instead of artificial light fixtures.
- Bring in lots of live plants.
- Buy reusable office supplies instead of disposable ones.
- Get second-hand office furniture.
- Encourage employees to reduce, reuse and recycle.
- Start a compost bin.
A business’s office environment plays a big role in influencing day-to-day operations. When you establish a strong code of ethics within the building, engagement with the surrounding environment will follow suit.
Store Goods Responsibly
A small business can adjust its operations to become more eco-friendly, whereas big companies have a more difficult time enacting widespread changes. One of the most effective adjustments is switching to responsible gathering/storage tactics.
By storing items in green packaging materials within a sustainable facility, small businesses can avoid contributing to the waste from improper storage, especially food waste. Instead of using plastic containers, they can use these devices:
- Wooden crates
- Glass jars
- Dry bags
- Canvas bins
Plastic might be cheap and flexible, but it’s also a significant contributor to the world’s pollution. Small businesses can switch to more sustainable alternatives and put a large dent in plastic’s harmful effects.
Ship Goods Sustainably
While storage is a good start, it can come full circle with sustainable shipping, which requires smart delivery tactics and suitable shipping materials. For delivery, a business should consolidate its orders and pack them into compact containers to minimize space and costs. Along with the storage containers we just mentioned, these are the best shipping materials a business can use:
- Biodegradable mailing pouches and filler.
- Recycled cardboard
- Compostable bags
Standard mailing pouches, plastic wrap, and styrofoam filler are all too common in today’s business world. Small businesses can spark a change with better shipping practices.
Acquire Environmental Certifications
Small businesses can improve their reputation and trustworthiness by acquiring environmental certifications. Of course, they can only become eligible by applying sustainable business operations and allowing the surrounding environment to flourish. Here are some of the most common certifications:
- Green C Certification for supporting sustainable business practices.
- USDA Certified Organic label for organically produced foods.
- B Corp Sustainability certification for strong environmental and social performance.
- Green Business Bureau certificate for establishing green office initiatives.
These options are only the most well-known. Small businesses can apply for many others to gain authoritative support and recognition for their green efforts.
A typical corporate misconception is that businesses go through so much paperwork only because they need to. In reality, our digital world offers many alternatives to paper. Businesses can take these actions to go paperless:
- Switch to online billing and virtual receipts.
- Invest in cloud computing technology.
- Provide employees with laptops instead of desktop computers.
- If you must use paper, use a locally-sourced recyclable product.
Cutting down on paper waste helps the environment and frees up space in your building to pursue other green endeavors.
Making a Difference With Green Business
Small businesses might not have the same profits and reputation as the big guys, but they have an advantage with a smaller carbon footprint and localized operations. These advantages allow them to implement more effective eco-friendly changes into their business, such as remote work, green storage/shipping and developing a natural office space.
They can also reduce their paper waste, give back to the community, and acquire environmental certifications to bolster their brand and promote more sustainable business practices. Businesses of all sizes can make a big ecological difference!
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief of Momish Magazine and believes in science, that climate change is real, and is doing her part to keep Mother Earth healthy for the future of her four kids.