Every business model is different, but many modern businesses want to become more ethical and sustainable to keep up with trends in human resources and customer expectations.
The workforce is becoming more aware of how a business operates, its sustainability, and ethical practices. Attracting and retaining top talent depends on your ability to keep up with the times and have a sustainable business strategy, no matter what industry you're in.
In addition, your customers are becoming more eco-conscious and looking for brands and companies whose values align with their own.
Luckily, any business, even the least eco-friendly ones out there, can make small steps to become sustainable. Here are some ideas to help you create a sustainable business model.
As you already know, transportation is responsible for air pollution. Most people use their vehicles or public transportation daily, for one purpose—to get to work. While work isn't the only thing to blame for too many cars on the road, people typically have to travel to and from their jobs every day Monday through Friday, and sometimes even more frequently.
Allowing your employees to work remotely can help reduce their carbon footprint, ultimately making your business more sustainable. Your business model can look forward to more benefits than just sustainability.
For example, if you move to a completely remote workforce, there's no need to pay rent for an office or the bills that come with it. You can also forget about using electricity, helping keep operational costs low, while reducing your carbon footprint.
Promote Public Transit Use
If your employees can't work remotely for any reason, consider trying to convince them to use public transportation when possible. Some cities and towns might not have the best public transportation, so this idea isn't for everyone.
However, if your business and its employees are located in a city with great public transportation, consider offering commuter benefits to those who hop on a bus or train to get to work.
Public transportation can help your employees reduce their carbon footprints because it means fewer vehicles on the road traveling to the same place. Small businesses such as yours can provide benefits, such as bus passes, that can make commuting to work via bus more affordable and convenient than driving.
Consider Sustainable Products
A sustainable business model can be also implemented by swapping the items you purchase and use daily, for more sustainable alternatives. For example, printer paper, cleaning products, bags, containers, hygiene products, and even lawn care products all have an eco-friendly alternative.
In particular, printer paper is more sustainable if it's made from hemp versus trees. You can also look for products that are made from recycled materials that will reduce overall plastic waste.
Educate your employees on the importance of swapping plastic bags for reusable produce bags and organic cotton tote bags when bringing food to work. Organic cotton shopping bags do not pollute our environment, unlike disposable plastics that end up in oceans. Instructing them to use eco-friendly materials will also help them to stay healthy by avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals commonly found in non-organic items such as those made by polyester, PVC, and other synthetic fibers.
Additionally, cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals can be swapped for natural, green cleaners that work just as well and don't have a toxic smell. Using sustainable cleaning products keeps toxins out of streams and the ground, while reducing your impact on landfills.
Even the most high-tech office can benefit from secondhand furniture instead of buying something just because it's brand new.
Making new office furniture, including tables, chairs, and desks, requires tons of raw materials and energy. Instead of purchasing brand new products, you can go green by shopping for secondhand items that would otherwise be thrown into landfills.
If your office doesn't have a recycling bin, your employees will simply toss everything into the trash can, even if it can be recycled.
You can enable recycling among your employees by providing them with a recycling bin and keeping a label on it that lists all of the items that can be thrown into the recycling bin. In addition, teaching your employees how to recycle properly can further reduce your carbon footprint for a more ethical and sustainable business model.
Become More Energy Efficient
If you and your employees have a bad habit of leaving the lights on at the end of the day, try to set a new rule or invest in smart bulbs that can help you automate when the lights in your business turn on and off.
Becoming more energy-efficient helps to shrink both your carbon footprint and your energy bill.
Partner With Green Businesses
If you truly want to make your business model more sustainable, partner with companies that have environmental and societal value, and whose goals and values align with your own.
Partners with green practices, such as suppliers, are more likely to focus on increasing their bottom lines by developing green initiatives and ensuring sustainable products, such as packaging.
Reduce Paper Use
Many large offices use hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper every year. From printer paper to half-used notebooks and sticky notes, offices waste a lot of paper for no reason.
We live in a digital age, so there's no reason to take notes with paper and pen anymore; instead, you can use tablets or laptops at work to reduce paper use. Anything from invoices to meeting agendas can be made digital and emailed or shared via a number of business communication tools, such as slack or Google Drive.
Hire a Sustainability Coach
Even when you think your business model can't get any more sustainable, you might be wrong. A sustainability coach can help your company think of unique ideas to become more eco-friendly, build robust sustainability strategies, and appeal to your customers and clients' needs.
Business sustainability coaches have helped many businesses shift to a sustainable model through new initiatives while keeping them within budget. Making your business more sustainable might require more money than you think, but a coach can take your budget and find creative ways to spend it on specialized sustainability efforts.
Becoming More Sustainable
Businesses in all industries need to consider what it means to have a sustainable business model.
Whether your reasons for becoming more sustainable are to keep up with the growing demands of your clients, or you're just looking for ideas for your business to become more ethical because it's the right thing to do, every business should have some sort of sustainability plan.
Sustainability is not a trend, so now is the time to start thinking about the changes your business will need to undergo over the next few years.
At SOL+SPIRIT we are passionate about helping people implement sustainable practices in all areas of their lives. If you want to learn more about the issues caused by plastic products and irresponsible environmental behavior, or would like to join the movement against plastic products, follow our blog. We have some great articles on how to quit living unsustainably and turn to greener solutions.
You might also enjoy: