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7 Unexpected Ways To Boost Your Business' Sustainability Cred

As a wise woman once said, “It’s not about the money, money money!”. Well, at least it’s not just about the money. Not anymore. We live in an enlightened era. In era in which businesses and the consumers who use them are better informed than ever. This means that businesses can no longer bury their heads in the sand when it comes to sustainability. Of course, businesses still have to turn a profit, but it’s now more important than ever that they do so in an ethical and sustainable way without exploiting their workforce or endangering the planet around them. All over the planet we’ve seen examples of businesses of all shapes and sizes make a concerted effort to make their operations more sustainable and ethically driven- from McDonalds reengineering their used cooking oil into biodiesel fuel for their delivery trucks to IKEA’s investment in more sustainable materials.

While we certainly hope that businesses are switching to more sustainable practices because it’s what’s best for the planet, let’s be honest here… There’s also substantial PR capital in embracing sustainability, especially in the face of changing consumer trends. Younger generations of consumers are much more likely to buy from businesses with more sustainable practices and the majority of them are happy to pay more for the privilege.

There are plenty of obvious ways in which you could make your operation more sustainable such as switching to mostly, or entirely, paperless operations. However, if you’re pushed for ideas on how to add a hint of green to your operations, here are some unexpected ways to make your enterprise greener and gain greater credibility with ethically-driven consumers...

Allow your employees to work from home

In an increasingly digital era, more and more businesses all over the planet have begun to embrace remote working as a means of boosting employee productivity while also reducing operational overheads. Employees who spend at least part of their week working from home tend to be more fecund in their productivity and more motivated when they do return to the office.

What’s more, remote working also supports 7 of the UN’s sustainable development goals. In embracing remote working for their employees, businesses score a number of ethical and ecological points including;

*  Promoting good health and wellbeing

*  Reinforcing gender equality

*  Providing decent work and economic growth

*  Taking steps towards more affordable and clean energy

*  Building more sustainable cities and communities

*  Taking steps to address climate action

*  Promoting more responsible consumption and production

All this while making employees happier and more fulfilled and saving money, too!

Incentivise carpooling and cycling to work

Even on days where employees need to come into the office you can still take steps to lower the carbon footprint of your business as a whole and encourage your employees to adopt more sustainable practices.

Incentivising car pooling, for example, can not only encourage employees to reduce their carbon footprint it can also lead to stronger friendships within your workforce. What’s more, encouraging employees to cycle to work can help employees to arrive at work more alert, energised and happy than if they’d driven in.

How you incentivise these behaviours is, of course, up to you but the myriad benefits far exceed what you may lose from providing monetary or time based incentives.

Recycle your e waste

Reducing waste across the board is a great place to start in making your business more sustainable, but your primary focus should be on how you deal with e waste. It’s a given that as technology evolves to better serve your operations your hardware may need to be replaced or upgraded.

Throwing it into landfill waste, however, is a huge ecological no-no. When electronic devices go into landfill waste they can leach harmful compounds like cadmium and lead into our oceans. Although e waste accounts for roughly 2% of all landfill waste in terms of volume, because of the toxicity of the internal workings it accounts for around 70% of all toxic waste on the planet. Therefore, you should never throw so much as a calculator in the bin. Donate your old tech to charity, recycle it or sell it to another business. Nascent startups will likely be happy to take your tech off your hands.

Image by Public Domain Pictures

Rethink how you keep your workplace clean

Even little things like how you clean your office can have a huge impact on your workplace’s commitment to ethics and sustainability. Using fewer chemical cleaners and employing more natural alternatives can make a big difference while also helping to reduce costs in the workplace. You’d be astonished at how effective a solution of equal parts water and spirit vinegar can be as a multi surface cleaner, or how a little olive oil can bring out the lost lustre in wooden desks.

What’s more, using a company like Steamaster Australia for cleaning your carpets and upholstery can be beneficial in a couple of ways. Not only do you get to harness the natural cleaning power of steam, you also enjoy the ethical benefits of dealing with a small local business as Steamaster encourages people to startup their own businesses rather than acting as employees. Speaking of which...

Take a good long look at your vendors

When you were first starting out in business you likely selected your vendors primarily or entirely on the basis of cost. However, now that you’re up and running it may be worth taking a close look at your vendors’ own commitment to ethics and sustainability. If they have any ethical skeletons in their closets, your public image may benefit from switching to a more ethical alternative.

Install energy and water efficient solutions

Not only will these help you to lower your workplace’s carbon footprint, they can also go a long way towards driving down your operational overheads! Simple solutions like energy efficient CFL bulbs as an alternative to incandescent or fluorescent bulbs or simply installing low flush toilets can help lower your workplace’s energy and water usage leading to greater sustainability and daily savings that all add up come year end.

Finally… Get your employees in on the act

Last but not least, your employees are a fantastic resource in finding more sustainable ways to go about your daily operations. Make sure that they have an infrastructure in place that allows their voices to be heard.

Their suggestions can help pave the way for a greener tomorrow!