Five ways entrepreneurs can incorporate sustainability into their business
Sustainability in business practice is becoming more of a necessity than ever before. Customers are making moves to living a more sustainable lifestyle and therefore expect business leaders and their companies to follow suit. It can be a minefield knowing where to begin when it comes to acting sustainably, it’s an incredibly broad term and can be confusing to know what steps to take first.
Let’s take a look through some simple steps you can take in your business to get ahead of the sustainability movement:
Drive down emissions in your own operations
Turn to your suppliers and partners and perhaps set up a meeting geared around a carbon neutral end goal. Create a questionnaire to give to your suppliers or perhaps ask for statistics in the last year that will help you to get an idea of what work needs to be done towards sustainable practice.
If you have the budget, you could set up an internal training programme that key partners must complete when working with you, to ensure they’re educated on sustainable business practice. If the budget isn’t quite there, look to third party providers who specialise in ‘greening’ businesses and how they can help you.
Excite employees with your sustainability agenda
It’s important that your team are just as passionate about sustainable business practice as you are and feel like they can do their bit to help. The Pawprint app is a great way to get started as it helps employees learn how to live a low carbon lifestyle.
Users are celebrated for even the smallest planet-friendly action and encouraged to turn them into habits to secure a sustained carbon saving. You could also reward employees for simple swaps, such as cycling to work (within reason of course) instead of driving.
Provide eco versions of your existing products
It’s important to emphasise here that this can be an easy swap for some businesses but if you’re a larger firm, going eco may be incredibly costly so it’s up to your discretion to decide if it’s the right move.
Look to build a roadmap to eco and share this with your customers, it holds you and the business accountable and shows that you’re not making empty pledges that in fact there is a plan of how you’re going to make it happen.
Focus on your own carbon footprint
It’s all well and good encouraging suppliers and partners to drive down their emissions but its important that you’re leading by example. As a business, there are some simple swaps you can make including switching to a renewable energy provider that is backed by REGO certificates. As we’ve all learnt from the past year, we don’t have to be face to face for all our meetings, so instead of hopping on the next flight out of here or taking that 5 hour journey down the motorway, just use Zoom instead.
Other office improvements include making sure the lighting is energy efficient e.g. they turn off after 20 minutes of no movement. Make sure you’re printing less, nowadays almost everything we need is saved on our computers so it can just be a waste. Last but no means least, reduce, reuse, recycle everywhere and reward employees for doing so which should make it a habit.
Invest your own money in sustainable activities
Now it doesn’t have to be straight out of your back pocket, there are some financial schemes out there to help businesses engage with sustainable projects. If you’ve not heard of green bonds, they’re essentially a fixed-income instrument designed to support specific climate-related or environmental projects. These bonds typically come with tax incentives to enhance their attractiveness to investors. There are also many trusts across the UK in which you can apply for funding should you have a sustainable project idea up your sleeve.
Finally, you can invest in sustainable ETFs: I like iClima Earth ones, as they are backed by significant evidence and focused on carbon footprint and distributed alternative energy.
To learn more about improving sustainability in your business, head to my ‘Sustainability in Action’ series on YouTube.