Wilf Robinson, owner and co-founder of Certified Sustainable, offers his top nine tips on how businesses can better consider the environment.
A new international study conducted by Unilever has revealed that a third of consumers now favour brands which they feel are doing social or environmental ‘good’. Unsurprisingly, this trend is becoming poignant in the world of business too. Investing in companies with a vibrant green thumb has become an evident priority for potential clients, making this an important consideration for all businesses.
However, despite the many benefits which follow businesses who decide to ‘go green’, CitySprint has revealed that whilst 90% of SMEs said they thought sustainability is an important aspect of conducting business, over half of these businesses are failing to invest in any sustainability goals. It seems there is an equal number of businesses who pride themselves on fulfilling a greener agenda, for example by selecting suppliers and contractors who are known for sustainable conduct (31%), and businesses who dismiss green-oriented goals altogether. Essentially, the world of sustainability is at a loss; businesses are overpromising and under-delivering.
As influential companies continue to demonstrate an ‘all or nothing approach’, changes must be made. Meanwhile, it has been concluded that SMEs don’t feel confident enough to pursue greener agendas; they simply don’t understand how their businesses can become more sustainable. As it’s been found that 51% of businesses lack critical information regarding how efficient methods can be developed and maintained, this failure becomes more understandable.
To help you better understand how your business can successfully consider the environment, encouraging others to follow suit, here are nine ways that companies can better consider the environment.
Set a mission statement
If you want to determine whether a company is excelling sustainably, then the first thing to check is its mission statement. As a compilation of guiding principles, mission statements encompass the organisation’s values and goals.
Any company hoping to improve its sustainability efforts ought to incorporate this into its mission statement. Discuss with your team how you’d like to become more sustainable, for example by saving water or reducing waste and incorporate your revised values, creating a short, concise mission statement which reflects your green priorities.
Be mindful of your energy usage
There are many ways by which you can become more energy efficient, having a positive impact on the environment in turn. For example, you can use alternative energy resources; solar and wind power are just two examples of the many sustainable options which provide a greener alternative.
Consider also replacing old appliances with more energy efficient ones. Cost-cutting rarely benefits the environment, contributing to unnecessary energy wastage which certainly doesn’t portray your company in a favourable light. By investing in energy-efficient alternatives, you’ll create a sustainable working environment that’s long-lasting.
Becoming more sustainable as a company is an admirable goal and it’s equally important that you showcase your achievements. Being seen as a sustainable business means you need to highlight this in your branding, PR and marketing strategies. Certifications can support your sustainable image exponentially. These accreditations demonstrate that your achievements are recognised externally, as your processes are quality-approved by experts.
For example, the ‘Certified Sustainable’ accreditation provides a clear and visible means for UK manufacturers to showcase the company’s commitment to best-practice waste management and sustainability. Started by a team of independent waste management experts, the certification encourages manufacturers to operate in a truly sustainable manner. By becoming ‘Certified Sustainable’, these businesses better communicate the sustainability efforts, sharing achievements with clients, partners and employees alike.
Going paperless is an environmental saviour, whilst it’s also been said to enhance productivity. Findings suggest that employees spend one-third of their time looking for paper documents, an indisputable waste of their skill sets. Adopting a paperless strategy means that important information can’t be lost or misplaced easily, whilst allowing your employees to use their valued time more efficiently. Meanwhile, your business will proactively protect our trees, a commitment to be proud of.
Invest in sustainable projects
Companies who consider important causes are certainly favourable among consumers and clients. This purposeful image demonstrates your ability to support the wider world. As a consequence, you could consider investing in sustainable projects; for example, by supporting charities which proactively work to create a more sustainable planet, you’ll be seen as a ‘greener’ company, with the environment at the top of your priority list.
Assign a sustainability advocate
Creating sustainable plans might be simple, but their maintenance requires commitment and monitoring. I recommend having a sustainability leader who can act as an advocate for your business’ sustainability practices. The individual will work to bring your goals to fruition, communicating these with the rest of your team.
Become an environmental champion in your local area
Where possible, use your platform as a successful business professional to champion a local cause, contributing to a project which makes a difference close to home. This will encourage fellow members of your team to embrace a more sustainable and supportive lifestyle themselves, using their expertise for good. In turn, your company will consist of passionate employees who aim to live sustainably both professionally and personally.
There are numerous ways by which your business can conserve water. Start with a water audit; many companies underestimate how much water they’re using, however audits can help to uncover any leaks and unnecessary wastage. Once you know where your water’s being used, you can better educate your team. Encouraging them to become more water-aware will help to reduce the environmental impact your business is having, making gradual steps towards a more efficient and sustainable workplace.
Be wise with your waste
Every business will produce waste, regardless of how many changes you implement. It would be extremely difficult to avoid waste entirely. However, there are sustainable uses for your waste, putting your by-products to the best possible use. For example, you can reduce packaging, eliminate plastic water bottles, or contribute to local food banks. Above all else, ‘recycle and reuse’ should be values which lie at the core of your business.