Cost-Effective Eco-Friendly Hacks for Your Small Business

Author: Alex Jones | April 16, 2019

In this guest post, we’ll examine a few simple eco-friendly hacks and changes that any business owner can consider making. If you want to help the environment and reduce your enterprise’s impact on the wider world, read on.

Think local

This first tip might not immediately spring to mind when thinking of going eco-friendly, but its environmental benefits are considerable. Thinking locally and opting for suppliers from your surrounding area reduces strain on the environment by lessening the amount of miles delivery drivers will need to travel.

This has the added effect of making your business an integral part of the local economy. You’ll be benefiting your fellow small businesses if, for example, you opt for ingredients and supplies manufactured in the same town. To do this, audit of your suppliers to find out whether you really need to import items from overseas or from the other side of the country, or if local companies can do it better at a reduced price point.

Local goods often bring the added advantage of being more attractive to local consumers. When choosing or switching to local suppliers and partners, consider any way to market your choices in a positive light.

Turn the lights off

Turning out the lights sounds simple and small, but it can have a big impact. Leaving lights on is what big corporations do to make their skyscrapers look appealing in the skyline, but if your small office is doing the same, your bank balance could suffer from bloated energy bills. Those bills can be even higher if you leave computers and other devices on overnight instead of shutting them down.

Savings here are a win-win, since turning off your lights and machines can help you save money while helping the environment. If using a lot of energy is unavoidable, then consider switching to an eco-friendly energy plan that uses carbon offsetting to negate the impact your activity has on the Earth.

In addition, if you own your own premises, then you could also consider installing an on-site wind turbine to generate your own carbon-neutral electricity. Other innovations in this vein include a grass roof, which could help insulate your building as well as reduce air and noise pollution. This kind of roof can last for up to 50 years if cared for properly.

Go paperless

Many modern offices and teams have already made this switch. If you haven’t, consider it. By using apps such as Asana, Slack and Google Drive to organize work, communicate and store documents, your team can greatly reduce the need for physical memos and note-taking. Add to this the advent of paperless document signing products like DocuSign and Adobe Sign, and you could run your enterprise entirely paper-free.

If you own a traditional small business and have been in business for a long time, you might still be using a paper-based administration system. Our advice in this scenario is to make the switch gradually, to avoid disruption to a tried-and-tested system. Once you’ve found the ideal software for your enterprise, then consider making the jump to 100% paperless. Your team, and the environment, will thank you for it!

Examine your kitchen processes

These hacks work whether you’re a culinary business or simply have an office kitchen to make hot drinks and warm up quick meals. Either way, cutting down on waste will have a big impact on your environmental footprint. You might have an office kitchen focused on fast eating, stocked with single-use plastic cutlery. That plasticware creates a lot of non-biodegradable garbage every day. If you’d like to reduce the amount of waste your business produces, you can avoid this by buying in your own knives and forks and encouraging washing up in lieu of tossing things away.

Similarly, industrial kitchens can confront waste by making sure to dispose of oil and grease in the correct manner and not down the sink, since this can cause blockages in the local sewage system. If you run a restaurant and sell takeout food, switching out non-biodegradable packaging for greener options is a great way to contribute in the fight against the single-use plastic clogging up our oceans.

Encourage eco-friendly transit

Your company can be as eco-friendly as it wants, but if your workforce is still commuting into the office by automobiles (and often sitting in traffic for large portions of the journey), then they’re contributing to pollution. Encouraging sustainable ways of commuting can be done as simply as installing a place where workers can store bicycles safely, and installing a shower so they can enter the workplace refreshed rather than sweaty and muddy. This can also be used by commuters that wish to run to work!

If your company has a few delivery vehicles, consider making a switch to either electric or hybrid vehicles to make an immediate saving on fuel costs, and communicate a positive, eco-friendly brand identity while your vehicles are out and about.

Seize the initiative

This final point isn’t really a hack—it’s more of a call to action. Combining all of the ideas above to eco-optimize your business will help you seize the initiative as businesses slowly commit to more stringent environmentally friendly measures.

While the initial investment in things like electric vehicles, paperless software, and new forms of packaging might seem a little steep, depending on your business, they can pay off in many ways in both the short and long term. For example, you can publicize your efforts and your eco-friendly brand to potential employees and customers, helping show that you are a trailblazer in the fight for a healthier planet.

Being a small business owner is all about managing risk and reward, so if these ideas represent big changes, there’s no need for a full-eco-overhaul, overnight. Instead, draw up a calculated plan that’ll ensure your business doesn’t suffer as a result of these types of changes, and consider ways to consider the environment in ways that are cost-effective for your company over time.


Image credit: Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

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