small business sustainability plan

7 Steps to Develop a Small Business Sustainability Plan

Having a small business sustainability plan is an excellent step toward fighting the current climate crisis and contributing to solving the problems facing our environment.

As a small business owner who’s just starting, you’ve probably experienced the struggle of trying to get your business off the ground. And while it’s not as easy as it looks in all those YouTube videos and podcasts you follow, one thing can help you stand out and make your business thrive: sustainability.

In recent years, creating a sustainable small business plan has gradually become a key focus for some businesses that want to save money, attract more customers, and create a stronger brand.

So how can you get started on creating such a plan? Thankfully, we’ve got a few ideas for you.

7 Ways to Create a Small Business Sustainability Plan

1. Adopt recycling programs

You don’t have to start big to make a difference! Incorporating recycling is one of the best ways for small businesses to adopt sustainable practices. You can reduce waste going into landfills and help the environment while saving money on disposal costs. No matter how big or small your business is, it is vital to understand the three R’s of sustainable waste management — reduce, reuse and recycle. If you’re looking for ways to recycle in your workplace, try these tips: 

  • Start by making sure all employees know the recycling procedures. 
  • Have separate bins for different recyclables: paper products, plastic bottles, metals, etc. 
  • Work with a local recycling company to find out where you can take recyclables when they’re full. 
  • Look into purchasing office supplies made from recycled materials. 

2. Upgrade your equipment

Use energy-efficient equipment wherever possible and encourage employees to do the same! Energy efficiency helps reduce your costs and your company’s carbon footprint and shows your customers your dedication to preserving our planet’s resources for future generations. 

And if you own a factory or warehouse, switching to energy-efficient lighting could also save you money. For example, a simple switch to LED lighting can slash energy costs by up to 80 percent and reduce maintenance costs by 90 percent over the lifetime of each fixture.  

3. Go digital

Going paperless is a significant step toward creating a small business sustainability plan. It can save a lot in many areas, including printing, mailing, and storage costs when done right. Not only is it cost-effective, but it also reduces the impact on our environment as we harvest fewer trees to produce paper. 

4. Educate and engage your employees

As a small business, you may be looking for ways to cut costs and become more sustainable. While there are many ways to do this, one of the most important is to educate your employees.

Creating a buy-in scenario among your employees ensures they are a part of the process from the start. And they’ll feel invested in the company and be able to spot opportunities that management might miss on their own.

This, at the same time, is an essential first step in promoting a green culture at work and a significant step between companies that genuinely embody sustainability and those that struggle to meet green goals.

When everyone finally understands the importance of sustainability and how they can help your business become more sustainable, you will see a fundamental transformation. And the good news is, you don’t have to spend a ton on new equipment or systems. Use every tool available around them.

Plus, you could take it one step further by creating a “Green Team” of already sustainability-savvy people who can serve as a support system to the others in your organization.

5. Cut down on energy consumption

Cutting down on energy consumption at work reduces the fossil fuel usage that drives climate change and a drop-down in expenses for your small business. By educating your employees to reduce energy consumption, your small business significantly impacts the environment.

So what’s the best way to dive deep into cutting down on energy consumption? First things first, audit your energy usage and assess where you use the most/least energy.

This crucial step identifies impact areas where you can focus on reducing your energy consumption. 

And once you’ve got data, it’s time to take action — and action here depends on one business to another. It could be simple actions like switching to LEDs to lower energy load or switching off power distributors at the end of each business day.

6. Streamline operations

When small businesses adopt sustainable practices, they’re not just doing the right thing for the planet; they’re also doing the right thing for their bottom line. 

Sustainability can help small businesses streamline their operations in several ways. For example, 

Make changes to your products or services, such as selling more environmentally friendly products, providing more green services, or switching from plastic to paper bags packaging.

And also, encourage sustainability throughout your company by engaging your employees to make sustainable changes, setting goals, and measuring their progress.

7. Promote sustainable transportation

Educating your employees about changing their transportation habits can be disruptive. However, this is crucial when creating a small business sustainability plan. Why? Because transportation emissions are a leading cause of climate change.

To get past this obstacle, set posters around the office comparing the cost of commuting both in a single-passenger car versus carpooling. 

You could also install bike racks and showers in the office to increase your employees’ likelihood of biking to work.

Such investment makes financial sense (especially with skyrocketing fuel prices) and projects a positive image to your employees and community.

Sustainability is not just a buzzword. And it has become the gold standard for businesses across all industries- with measurable benefits for your business, from attracting and retaining talent to saving money. 

Not only does it help protect the environment, but it also helps your bottom line—and increases customer loyalty. Now or never is the time to have that small business sustainability plan to gain that critical competitive advantage against competitors in your industry who aren’t adapting. 

Are you looking to engage your employees and introduce sustainability in your strategy? We can help. Reach out. 

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