Trying to make your family business more sustainable might seem like a daunting task. You’ve probably been doing the same things in the same way for years, and it’s hard to break old habits. But making some small, green changes to how your business operates won’t only benefit the environment, it can improve your brand’s reputation and save you money.
These are some simple tips to help family businesses be more sustainable:
Religiously putting out your cardboard and plastic recycling every week is just a small part of how you can be more sustainable. While your curbside recycling only covers glass, cans, card, and some plastics, there are a number of other recycling schemes that you can utilise to reduce your environmental impact.
Take a look at TerraCycle to find out what else you can recycle — they provide drop off points to recycle everything from crisp packets to old pens. You can also buy Zero Waste Boxes to save all sorts of difficult-to-recycle waste from going into landfills.
Minimise your waste
Recycling is an important part of sustainability but why not consider how you can stop producing so much waste in the first place. How much single-use plastic is your business getting through each day? From takeaway coffee cups to soap bottles there are lots of little things you can change so that you’re producing less waste.
Make sure everyone in your business has a reusable water bottle, stop using disposable cutlery or straws, provide coffee cups, and switch to bars of soap or refillable liquid soaps.
Minimising your waste can go beyond just what goes on in your office. Almost one-third of waste comes from packaging alone, so try to find ways of using less. This could mean using different suppliers that don’t individually package items or buying items in bulk. And you need to think about the packaging you use for your products – is it all essential? And if it is, is it recyclable?
It’s another small change that can make a big difference – switch everything off when you’re not using it. Lots of businesses will leave computers, machines, lights, and even heating on during the night or over weekends. There’s no need, and getting into the habit of switching everything off will not only make your business more sustainable but it’s also going to save you money on your electricity and gas bills.
You can also switch your gas and electricity to a green energy supplier, it doesn’t have to cost you any more and it’s a simple way to be more sustainable.
Don’t buy everything brand new
It’s always tempting to get the latest tech and you want to ensure you always have the best equipment for your business, but that doesn’t always mean you need to buy things brand new.
If you’re after a new computer or phone, look at refurbished models. They might be a bit older but you can usually get a model with higher specifications for a lot less money, and if you buy them from a reputable provider they’ll come with the same guarantees as new products. Try using a service such as Circular Computing who provides remanufactured carbon-neutral laptops.
Move your business online and cut down on wasted paper. You can run your business completely free of paper with a few small changes. Use cloud-based storage and software like Google Drive that allows you to share important information and documents and collaborate on work, without any need to print things out.
Move all your finances online by using accounting software — it’ll save you time, reduce the stress of accounting, and make your business more sustainable. You can create digital invoices, manage your payroll, and monitor outgoings all without any need for paperwork.
Use a fuel card
If your business requires driving or commuting then a fuel card can help make it more sustainable. A fuel card like the AA fuel card is a credit card that’s exclusively used to purchase fuel. It’s another way to reduce the amount of paperwork your company produces; you’ll no longer need paper receipts, invoices, or expense forms as all payments are recorded in an online system.
Using a fuel card also gives you a good oversight of just how much your business is spending on fuel, so you can make changes to reduce your driving and use less fuel.
Get B Corp certified
One way for your family business to make significant steps towards being more sustainable is to be certified as a B Corporation. B Corp businesses is voluntarily certified based on their social and environmental performance.
To become certified you’ll be assessed on everything from your supply chain to your employee policies. While this goes beyond just sustainability, getting certified gives you access to a network of other businesses, and will help build trust with customers.
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With a few small changes and a little bit of planning it’s pretty easy for your family business to become more sustainable.