The rising levels of pollution, global warming and climate change have become common topics of debate in recent years. The dire state of the environment and all the negative consequences stemming from it represent the result of our own doing. From deforestation and overharvesting to the extraction of natural resources, overconsumption and waste production, human activities have caused extensive damage to the environment and changed the planet forever.
So, what’s to be done, you may wonder? We can either lament and regret our recklessness, or we can take action and look for solutions to the problems we’re currently facing. While we may not be able to go back in time and right the wrongs, it’s not too late to turn things around. It’s still in our hands to fix the damage we’ve caused to the planet and ensure a healthier and more prosperous future for future generations.
Although individual actions are necessary and can help to some extent, larger players like businesses and corporations can have the biggest impact. As a business owner, you have to take responsibility in this regard and find ways to address the negative impact that your company might have on people, society and the planet. So, if you’re not sure where to start, here are a few sustainability practices that you can implement today to pave the path for a greener tomorrow.
Learn from the best
One way to improve sustainability in your business is to take a look at what others have done before you and draw inspiration from businesses that have already walked on this path. You’re not the first company to take the green route, so why not take advantage of the knowledge and wisdom that other players in your industry have accumulated over time? This will save you time, effort, and resources and ensure better results, as you won’t have to go through a cumbersome trial-and-error process.
Countries like Belgium, where sustainability is a major point of interest and recycling rates far exceed those in other European countries, can provide numerous examples of both startups and established companies that have successfully implemented sustainability strategies and greenified their operations. Businesses here focus greatly on reducing waste and use various methods and equipment to dispose of cardboard, plastic, metal cans, also known as blikkenpers (cans) in Dutch, and other waste materials.
Keep in mind that different businesses will take a different approaches to sustainability, so not all of their methods may suit your company’s needs. However, they all provide important lessons that you can learn and grow from, so make sure to check them out.
Make your products more friendly to the environment
A lot of the waste produced by businesses comes from the poor development of their products. As they focus on the quality of the goods they provide, many companies tend to put eco-friendliness on the back burner. And so, they end up crowding the market with products that may be valuable to consumers but are bad for the environment due to them being a major source of waste.
That’s the case with businesses that use materials that are not biodegradable or recyclable for their product packaging. The same goes for those who use excess packaging, especially when shipping goods to consumers. We could all benefit from the use of environmentally responsible materials like paper or a more minimalistic approach when it comes to packaging design. The less is more method can significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and make your products more appealing to consumers.
Start at the source
If you want to build a solid foundation for your green business, you have to start at the very beginning, and that implies conducting a close analysis of every stage in your supply chain. While most companies focus on the carbon footprint created by their operations or the final products or services they deliver, it’s important to note that most companies’ total carbon emissions are generated by their supply chain.
Therefore, if you want to fix the problem at the root, you need to fix the issues in your supply chain. This looks different for each individual company, but as a rule of thumb, you should strive to source raw materials from local suppliers to reduce transport-related pollution. Working with sustainable suppliers or shipping items in bulk can also support your eco-friendly goals.
Monitor and manage energy consumption
Another aspect that you need to take into consideration is represented by the energy sources your company uses and how you manage the consumption. Most companies rely on nonrenewable resources, and unfortunately, they act like these come from a bottomless well, which obviously has a deeply negative impact on the environment.
Whenever possible, it’s recommended to switch to alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar, that are renewable and have less damaging effects on the planet. This might require a bigger initial investment, but the benefits you’re going to experience in time are well worth the effort.
Educate your employees
In order to create a greener company and keep it that way, you need to make sure all your team members, from average workers to managers and top executives, are on the same page. People represent the basis of building a sustainability culture, so it’s important to communicate the values and principles that make up a green business and get everyone on board.
You may have to hold regular training courses to educate employees on sustainability matters and why they are important for all parties involved. Offering incentives can also lead to positive outcomes in this respect.
If you’re still on the fence about going green, you should put your dilemmas to rest and take a leap of faith. The path to sustainability may come with complications and challenges, but the benefits that you’ll reap from your hard work and commitment to this cause will pay off immensely down the road.