How To Adopt Sustainable Business Strategies

Have you ever considered how to bring sustainable business practices into your workspace? The concept of sustainability isn’t a new one. It is, however, something that has become increasingly popular in the 21st Century. Naturally, this has sparked a wave of curiosity. Increasing numbers want to know what the trend is all about and how they can capitalize on it. As defined by the Green Business Network, Green businesses are “socially and environmentally responsible.” They care for their people, they care for their communities, they care for the world.

The benefits, proponents reason, are clear. Improved social image, increased productivity, reduced costs, etc. The argument for sustainability is strong, and the list of reasons long. How to go about it, however, is sometimes less clear. Different businesses have different focuses, after all. Specific strategies that might do wonders for one might not apply to another. With that in mind, we’ve got some surefire sustainability tips that should work across the board. No matter the business or industry, the following practices should help you move the needle.

Using Less Paper Is Key

It might seem like something inconsequential, but paper use has a significant effect. First off, paper takes energy and resources to create. Manufacturers have to locate trees, chop them down, then process them into paper. After that, they have to ship it to customers, which adds to the expenditures.

Paper costs money for businesses to buy, obviously. It also creates considerable waste, leading to a strain on the environment. The counter to this? Investing in small business services and strategies that help you reduce the amount of paper you use at the office.

Thinking twice about printing emails and switching to a “paperless office” model can go a long way. There are plenty of programs, software, and the like that allow you to handle digitally what you would once have to use paper to accomplish.

Opt out of junk mailing lists and limit magazine and other print subscriptions. Use electronic correspondence where possible, and follow as many of the top tips on reducing paper consumption as you can.


When You Have To Use Paper

Of course, in many cases, it’s not possible to go completely paperless. In situations where you need to use some paper for your office, there is a way to do it smart. Using PCW (post consumer waste) paper is a start. PCW paper is a form recycled paper, so manufacturers don’t have to harvest new trees to create it. The creation of PCW paper consumes less energy and produces less waste.

When printing, you should always make an effort to go duplex when possible. This makes use of both sides of the page, and hence, less paper. Don’t use paper that’s bigger than you need. Maximize your printing efficiency by printing on as large an area as you can. You may have to tinker with the margins on some of your documents, but the savings are well worth it.

Any paper that you do use, make an effort to reuse. In general, you should recycle as much of the paper that you print on as possible. This brings up another salient point…


Waste Reduction & Recycling Should Apply To The Whole Office

Paper is just the first step. There’s a whole host of other ways in which you can reduce the amount of waste your office produces. You can also make reusing and recycling a top priority.

On the waste prevention front, you can start with streamlining purchases. Why buy more than you need if you don’t need it? When you can, rent equipment instead of buying it outright. For equipment that you must buy, consider going with a refurbished option. If you’re buying brand new, make sure that you get a product that is the most durable and has the greatest longevity.

Just as you can reuse paper, there are other common office supplies that you can grant a “second wind.” Toner cartridges, envelopes, etc. AllBusiness has an interesting list of suggestions that includes binders, paper clips, pens, and even shipping material. You can take your shipping reductions even further by using lightweight materials, cutting down on packaging layers, and setting up an internal system for saving and reusing whatever you can.

You could even invest in a business-wide recycling program. This will maximize the effectiveness and get everyone on the same page. Recycling@Work, Environmental Leader, and Earth911 all have fantastic resources and action plans you can make use of.


Spreading The Word

None of the efforts we covered will be effective, though, if you don’t have participation from your whole team. You’ve got to take steps to get everyone active and involved.

First, you need to provide your colleagues with information. This guide is a good start, and there are countless other references that you can refer to. The California Government has an excellent page with waste reduction strategies.

You can even draw some inspiration from their posters and signs. Adapt these to your specific industry and distribute them so that everyone knows why going green is important and what they can do to assist.

The aforementioned Green Business Network has resources on becoming Green Business Certified. The label shows a dedication to environmentally friendly practices. The qualifications necessary to receive the certification can impact a business in a positive way.

There’s also the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Sustainable Business resource library, and thought leaders like Entrepreneur. They understand the advantages and multi-faceted approaches to successful sustainable business. The information gleaned from these sites can help you no matter what kind of business you’re running.


In Summation

There’s plenty of benefit to tweaking your business for maximum sustainability. As the technology and the world evolve, an even greater emphasis will be placed on green business practices. Those that adopt them will have a considerable advantage over competition that is slow to change.

Ensuring that your business is well suited to go with the flow will take careful management of resources. You’ll need to reevaluate what you truly need and what you can do without. You may have to opt for solutions that alter your normal operations, but the long-term payout is undeniable.

Make sure that you keep your team onboard, up-to-date, and flexible so that you can adapt to the changing times and simultaneously benefit your business like never before.