Consumers today expect more from brands than ever before. Not only do consumers want to support companies that make a positive impact and align with their values, but they are willing to pay more for offerings they care about, like environmentally friendly options.
While each small to medium-sized business’ (SMB’s) path to sustainability will be unique, it’s critical to continually reassess environmentally friendly practices and embed an eco-friendly culture for employees. Fortunately, sustainable tech and solutions are available.
Here are 7 tips for SMB leaders who want to build a greener business.
Make sustainability a company-wide priority – here’s how
One way to start your business’ sustainability journey is by setting quarterly, annual and long-term measurable ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to track progress. Implementing policies that ladder back to your desired result is also a great way to keep your business on track to execute your sustainability goals. Additionally, this will show current employees your drive to strive for a more sustainable future and will also entice a new generation of younger workers to join your team or support your business. A study from Simon-Kucher shows 85 percent of global consumers are more likely to or have already changed their consumption styles to more sustainable options. This indicates SMBs that offer sustainable products will gain more attention and traction.
Use fair-trade or sustainably sourced packaging and non-toxic, eco-friendly products.
Using sustainable packaging is a major step in becoming a more “green” small business. Sustainable packaging solutions have minimal effects on the environment and can reduce harm to the environment. Using less packing tape and having corrugated cardboard or any other form of recyclable or paper-based product is a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging. A study from Statista shows more than 263 million American consumers – 80 percent of the population – shop online. With millions of online orders, the packaging adds up quickly. If all businesses upgraded to more sustainable/recyclable packaging, the ecological footprint would decrease and lower the number of materials that end up in landfills.
Eliminate single-use items and prioritize reusable office supplies
Continuously buying new supplies for the office that are not reusable or recyclable causes great harm to the environment. Some items to kick to the curb include Styrofoam or paper coffee cups, disposable cutlery and bleached printing paper. Most offices and businesses have one-time-use cups for their employees and the best solution is to offer porcelain mugs or glasses that can be washed and reused countless times. This act can save the company thousands of single-use cups a year per employee. Similarly, when it comes to disposable cutlery, providing reusable silverware is a more sustainable option. Furthermore, a great thing about paper is that it is reusable, so keeping work in a digital format or using recycled paper rather than bleached paper are the best options for the environment.
Allow remote work (if possible) or reward commuting via walking or biking
For decades, driving and commuting to work has been a major factor in releasing carbon dioxide into the air. However, we now have the tools and technology to improve the way employees get to work. Encouraging employees to carpool to work is a great way to reduce the overall carbon being released. If feasible, motivating your employees to use public transportation is another green approach. Offering free or discounted public transportation will benefit the Earth and the wallets of employees.
With the progression of technology, many SMBs are able to offer remote roles for their employees. If businesses can offer remote, flexible or hybrid work options, this too can help lessen the amount of commuting-related carbon emissions.
Donate or recycle tech so it can have a second life
As SMBs invest in new technology, it’s also a best practice to invest in forward-thinking tech recycling programs. Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers and fax machines are common electronic products and most can be reused or refurbished if taken to the right facility. Many OEMs like Lenovo offer comprehensive recycling programs like the Asset Recovery Services (ARS) for household and business customers to help ensure the responsible management of end-of-life electronics. In addition, there are also vendors in the ITAD (IT Asset Disposal) industry that can help companies secure the maximum value of their recycled or refurbished IT and ensure all data is wiped clean for a more secure, yet still environmentally responsible disposal.
Make energy-efficient technology upgrades when it comes to business decisions
Having an energy-efficient office, such as LEED certified office, store or building is a great opportunity to really advance your company while staying sustainable. Time-controlled lights can save money and energy. In addition, energy-efficient lightbulbs, such as LED lights have a longer life cycle compared to incandescent bulbs and have lower energy consumption, using 70 to 80 percent less electricity than traditional lightbulbs. Educate your employees and customers the energy saving functions of the PCs can help also save energy bill while reducing carbon emission. Making these adjustments to your SMB will show great results down the road.
Calculate your company’s emissions data and carbon footprint
Partnering with a sustainability consultant will help SMBs identify the areas where energy use can be reevaluated. The consultant’s job is to research and recommend technology that is affordable, effective and provides environmental benefits. Businesses small and large use a mass amount of natural resources and many don’t realize utilizing sustainable resources still allows you to be efficient and produce quality products. Not only will this benefit the environment, but it can also cut costs and increase profits. Companies can also look into ways to reduce as well as offset their technology’s CO2 emissions, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of their own operations while also supporting environmental programs aimed at generating renewable energy.
Now is the time to work towards achieving sustainability
As we build businesses and communities with future generations in mind, practicing sustainability is more important today than ever before. These tips will help guide your SMB to become more sustainable while simultaneously improving relations with employees, customers, the community and possible investors. It is essential for businesses of all sizes to pave the road to a more sustainable future and encourage everyone to reduce as much of their carbon footprint as possible for a greener future.
Eric Yu is the SVP & GM, Commercial Product Center & SMB Segment, Intelligent Devices Group, Lenovo.