Every business owner can discover easy ways to be more sustainable, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Whether you have a bricks and mortar store, or you work from your home office, making small changes can have a huge impact. Here are some simple ways to get started:
- Start Slow…
Don’t try to do everything at one time; identify the changes you would like to make within your business and set realistic goals for implementing these changes. Similar to building a business, your success will come from consistency so ensure you give yourself the chance to transition to more low waste business practices without overwhelming yourself.
- Go Digital
Going paperless may not be an option in some businesses and may seem unachievable to others so approach it as being more “paper limited”. Pinpoint the places that you are able to reduce paper waste in your business and focus on those. Receipts, loyalty programs, gift certificates/cards are a few great places to start to reduce your paper waste. Source out the online apps that would support these changes within your business.
- Donate and Thrift
Often when our offices need a redo or simply a freshening up we automatically source out new items to replace the ones we have. Try finding used items that will work in your space as they are or that can be repurposed to fit. There are so many ways to easily find items that are preloved but still have so much life left in them. Check online sites, FB marketplaces, buy/trade/sell groups or simply ask the people you know. In most cases when you have something to get rid of, finding a new home for your items can be done in no time by just posting online that it is available. In my shop I do this even with the cardboard boxes that we receive from all of our shipments; people are always moving or organizing or storing things and boxes are a big hit! The things you may think no one wants or needs are snapped up in no time and you can feel great that these items get a new lease on life and you haven’t sent them to the landfill.
- Support Local
One of the most important principals of sustainability is getting items you need from as close to home as possible. When sourcing out products or services for your business, see who you can use from your own backyard.
- Speak With Suppliers
When working with a new supplier, or after deciding to transition to lower waste options, be sure to let them know what your expectations are surrounding sustainability. Is there a way that they can reduce the amount of waste coming your way with your shipments? Can they use more eco-friendly packing materials? Can you piggyback onto another local business’s shipment to reduce the carbon footprint of the freight? Most suppliers are happy to make adjustments to meet their clients’ needs.
- Choose Sustainable Packaging
Regardless of whether you use an array of take-out packaging or simply supply bags for your customers, there are so many sustainable options available these days. Most packaging distribution companies have these options available, so sourcing is not an issue. No Issue and Eco Enclose are both great companies that provide compostable options for mailers, envelopes and labels.
- Be A Genuine Example
Even if no one else in your industry is following sustainable practices, be the first! It’s ok to go against the grain especially when it’s to take part in something. Lead the way for your employees by implementing eco-friendly practices into your business and educating them on the positive impact these will have on the business and the environment; for example, check out TerraCycle. The majority of people are not resistant to change, they just need someone to show them where to start. Most importantly, be genuine and transparent. It’s difficult for people to follow your lead if you aren’t being true to what you are asking of them. That also doesn’t mean you have to be perfect; just be transparent about that and don’t pass judgement to others for what they aren’t doing. Meet people where they are; whatever stage of the sustainable journey that may be!
- Find A Mentor
Look around your community and find the people who are doing things for the environment the way you want to and ask the questions! What systems work for them, which ones didn’t and why? People who are doing good by the community, the environment or just in general are almost always happy to share in their successes so find those people and learn from them! If you’re looking for tips online or advice from others along the sustainable journey, be sure to follow hashtags like #ecoliving, #sustainableliving, and #zerowaste on social media.
- Shout It From The Mountain
Right now there is such a shift surrounding sustainable living/working so why not use that to your advantage when it comes to your business? People are so much more aware of the climate crisis and the changes that need to be made so let them know you are taking action and leading the way; your positive actions are bound to encourage and inspire others to follow in your footsteps!
Written by Laura Newton
Laura Newton is the Founder of The Kind Matter Company, helping to guide others through their transition into adopting earth friendly practices within their daily lives. The Kind Matter Company provides a quarterly, sustainable living subscription box service that focuses on eco-conscious, Canadian made products. The time between each delivery allows subscribers to comfortably implement practices into their daily lives before new ones are introduced. Laura’s flagship store is located in Milton, Ontario where she offers retail items, workshops, and more to help you along your sustainable living journey.