Starting a business in the 21st century means being mindful of environmental responsibility. More and more consumers are trying to live sustainably, and the quest to minimize their impact on the planet is affecting their consumption behaviour.
No matter how great your startup idea is, you’re not likely to take it far from the ground without ample social responsibility. Let’s face it, caring about the environment is the right thing to do, since sustainability benefits us all, and is necessary for the longevity of the planet.
You might be intimidated by the idea of going green because it requires a drastic change from your routine. But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Here are some simple, actionable practices you can out in place to make your startup more environmentally responsible.
Photo by Jack Carey
Include sustainability in your business goals
Going green entails so much more than sloganeering or a one-off campaign that makes everyone feel better about themselves without actually reducing the company’s footprint. Sustainability must be ingrained in every part of your business. As the business owner, the best way to ensure this will happen is by including sustainability as one of the business goals of your company.
As with any other goal, you need to set short-term, mid-term, and long-term targets that will help you stay committed to going green. So whether it’s the way you produce your product using reusable energy, or by creating products that are recyclable or biodegradable, it’s all about finding the green solutions from end to end.
Explore cleaner energy sources
Possibly the most impactful and lasting decision you can make for your startup is to use clean, renewable energy sources. As it stands, solar energy is the cleanest power source available to us.
However, this might not be feasible if you’re starting your venture. You will most likely be setting up shop in a rented space where you can’t merely set up solar panel roofing. In this case, community solar is one alternative you could explore. Instead of harnessing your power, perhaps your startup can subscribe to a nearby shared solar farm.
Anything that will reduce your startup’s carbon footprint is always a good place to start, and you may find it helps you create a sense of community around your new business, right from the start.
Incentivize resource conservation
Resource conservation is one of the most basic things you can do to become sustainable. Water and electricity conservation can be applied at home and work. However, to push your employees to save water and power, you may give them a small token of appreciation.
Do a quick search on how much overhead costs you can save by conserving resources. Then you can reallocate these saved funds to treat your team every quarter, or as you see fit. Saving energy while keeping your employee’s happy sounds like a great starting plan.
Unlike traditional companies that have existing systems in place, startups have the advantage when it comes to adapting to the latest technology. This means that it’s also easier for startups to go paperless.
There are many benefits of going paperless. These include securing data systems, making workflow more efficient, and sustainability. In the long run, going paperless is a lot cheaper, and it will make your work easier.
Implement recycling programs
After introducing the conservation of resources, you can also implement recycling programs in your workplace. To start this, have segregated trash bins ready for your employees. Then, involve your maintenance crew to the system so that they can help you in implementing the program. Choose a designated day of the month for collecting recyclables and appoint a team that will decide what to do with the materials at hand.
Recycling programs could be as small as donating plastic bottles to organizations that process them or make office trinkets out of your recyclables.
‘Clean up’ your supply chain
If you want to go the extra mile, you can clean up your entire supply chain by making sure that the materials you’re using in production are green. This means that the materials are not plastic or they don’t run on non-renewable energy.
It’s really about thinking end to end when it comes to your business and how you can do the best, to leave the least impact behind.
If you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed by these sustainable business practices, don’t worry. You can always start small and work your way up to implementing more significant changes at work.