In a world where “going green” is as trendy as avocado toast, consumers are looking to businesses to lead the charge against climate change. After all, who wants to be known as the company still partying like it’s 1999, using single-use plastics and guzzling fossil fuels like they’re going out of fashion? Not you, that’s why you’re reading an article about sustainable business practices.
It’s not all about demand, though. There’s also strong economic pressure to improve.
With $1 trillion—yep, one trillion with a “T”—in potential climate change-related costs looming over the world’s largest corporations within the next five years and 10 of the warmest years ever recorded occurring since 2005, both businesses and the environment are feeling the heat.
To help your business become a climate-conscious leader and meet customer expectations, this guide
- details why sustainability is important for business,
- how can businesses help climate change,
- and shares 35 cost-effective, sustainable business practices for you to adopt.
Why Sustainability Is Important For Business
Contemplating whether adopting sustainable business practices is viable for your business? Here are three persuasive reasons why integrating eco-friendly practices will swiftly make its way onto your business’s to-do list:
- Today’s savvy consumers aren’t just looking for the best product or service at the best price—they’re also looking for a brand that aligns with their eco-conscious values. Research has found that a whopping 81 percent of consumers are more inclined to do business with brands that take a sustainable approach.
- A happy workforce is a productive workforce. As reported by HuffPost, employees in green workplaces are 16 percent more productive on average. And if you want to keep your team motivated and engaged, it’s essential to show that you care about more than just the bottom line. A recent IBM study shows 71 percent of employees and job seekers are increasingly seeking out workplaces that prioritize sustainability and demonstrate a commitment to the environment. And 88 percent of millennials claim their job is more fulfilling when given the opportunity to make a positive environmental or social impact.
- Embracing environmentally-friendly practices can help your business slash expenses, optimize operations, and increase financial gains. For example, as reported by Science Daily, energy consumption accounts for one-third of the US’s CO2 emissions, with office buildings spending an average of $30,000 per year on energy costs.
Sustainable Business Practices
Now you’ve got a solid idea of why moving toward a more sustainable approach to business is the right move, let’s explore how you can go about it with these examples of sustainable business practices.
Want to know where your business stands? Get your sustainability scorecard with our quiz:
Curb Your Energy Use
1. Audit your energy like a pro. With energy use in buildings making up 6.6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, why not take advantage of free programs and local utilities to conduct an energy audit? Remember, knowledge is power (literally).
2. Lights out, computers off. Don’t let energy vampires drain your resources at night. Bonus tip: Dimming your computer monitor’s brightness from 100 to 70 percent can save up to 20 percent of its energy.
3. Choose appliances with top energy ratings. Did you know? According to the EPA, if all office products in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR-certified, businesses could potentially prevent more than 1.5 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
4. Make the LED switch. Out with the old, in with the new—LED light bulbs consume less power and outlast traditional bulbs.
5. Tweak that thermostat. Adjusting your thermostat by just 1 degree can cut your heating bill by 10 percent and avoid around 660 lbs of CO2 emissions.
6. Embrace renewable energy or solar power. Go green and harness the sun’s energy to reduce your carbon footprint.
Minimize Business Travel
7. Embrace telecommuting. Fun fact: The IEA found working from home can reduce one’s carbon footprint if their journey to the office is longer than 6 kilometers.
8. Video conferencing. With passenger vehicles making up 45 percent of global CO2 emissions from transport, an easy way to cut your business’s environmental impacts is by choosing virtual meetings over in-person gatherings.
9. Train or bus over plane travel. If travel is necessary, opt for train or bus rides, which can be up to 90 percent more carbon-efficient than air travel.
10. Encourage eco-friendly commutes. Did you know? Underground metro systems emit just a sixth of the emissions of an equivalent car journey.
11. Electric or hybrid company fleet. In California, driving is the largest source of carbon dioxide gas, the primary contributor to climate change. Electrifying company fleets can halve CO2 emissions from road traffic by 2030 and improve city air quality.
Take A Look At Your Supply Chain
12. Embrace sustainable inventory management. Declutter your operations and kiss waste goodbye, shrinking your eco-footprint and expenses. Check out our sustainable inventory management guide for tips. If you ship products, read our guide to sustainable shipping practices.
13. Team up with local vendors. Rally behind your community’s businesses, slash shipping emissions, and shrink your carbon footprint—bonus points for supporting your local economy.
14. Partner with eco-conscious companies. Handpick allies who cherish the environment’s health just as much as you do.
15. Choose planet-friendly products. Go green with recycled materials or low-impact goods, making your supply chain more eco-friendly.
Green Up The Office (Literally)
16. Breathe easy with indoor plants. NASA found that not only do indoor plants boost oxygen levels, but they also effectively reduce air pollutants like cigarette smoke, organic solvents, and even radon—a naturally occurring gas that is known to cause lung cancer.
17. Beautify your office and help the planet. Plant native bee-friendly flora and carbon-capturing trees in your exterior landscaping to foster local biodiversity and fight climate change—all while making your surroundings more visually appealing.
18. Become a composting champion. Avoid contributing to the 109.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) of methane released by landfill each year by inspiring your team to compost food scraps and biodegradable materials.
Eliminate Single-Use Items
19. Quench your thirst with filtered water and reusable bottles. Say goodbye to plastic water bottles and hello to eco-friendly hydration by opting for reusable bottles and good ol’ filtered water. In the words of Mr. Bushay, “…that’s what I call high-quality H2O.”
20. Create a reusable kitchen haven. Stock your office kitchen with cups, mugs, silverware, and plates that can be washed and reused instead of disposable alternatives.
21. Rethink your coffee game. If you have a Keurig machine, consider switching to reusable K cups or even a traditional coffee maker to minimize waste.
22. Swap paper towels for washable cloths. Instead, embrace the power of washable rags and cloths to clean up spills and messes, making paper towels a thing of the past.
23. Refill, not replace. Invest in refillable soap dispensers to minimize plastic waste and keep your office clean and green.
24. Make recycling count. Double-check that your office recycling bins are actually going to recycling services. Many offices unknowingly skip commercial recycling services, leaving employees sorting waste for no reason.
Reduce Paper Waste
26. Give unneeded printouts a second chance. Turn surplus printouts into draft or note paper, and let your creativity flow on the flip side. Keep in mind the average office worker produces about 2 pounds of paper waste daily.
27. Embrace the power of recycled paper. Make a difference by using recycled paper products, including printer paper and toilet paper, in your office.
28. Dry hands the eco-friendly way. Install hand dryers in the bathroom to cut back on paper towel usage and keep things clean and green.
29. Declutter your mailbox. Remove your company from unnecessary mailing lists, and ensure your own mailing list stays up-to-date to minimize paper waste.
30. Go green with your packaging. Switch to eco-friendly packaging and show your customers you care about the planet. Check out our eco-friendly packaging guide for tips on making the switch.
Reuse Instead Of Buying New
31. Keep the ink flowing. Refill your printer’s ink cartridges instead of purchasing new ones, saving money and reducing waste.
32. Vintage charm meets eco-friendly. Opt for second-hand furniture to give your office a unique touch while supporting sustainability.
33. Share the love. Donate extra merchandise, office equipment, or other items instead of throwing them away. You’ll help someone else reuse them and contribute to a circular economy.
Make Your Online Presence More Eco-Friendly
34. Green web hosting for a digital difference. Choose a green web hosting service that utilizes renewable energy and energy-efficient technology, making your online presence more environmentally friendly. See tips on how to reduce your internet carbon footprint.
35. Embrace carbon-neutral shipping services like EcoCart. Offer EcoCart’s carbon-neutral shipping option at checkout, allowing your customers to offset their purchase’s environmental impact effortlessly.
And this is just 35 examples of sustainable business practices. From energy use to operations, there are many more ways each individual business can weave sustainable business practices into their planning. We recommend starting with a life cycle assessment as our sustainability analysts do for brands using EcoCart. For more information on how you can start offsetting your carbon footprint reach out for a demo today.