10 Ways to Be a More Sustainable Business

It’s no secret that operating a business no matter how big or small is not an easy task. As environmentally friendly practices become increasingly important, companies must consider how their waste affects the community and environment. The following is a list of 10 ways to improve the sustainability efforts of any business:

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  1. Set measurable goals
    Do your employees print excessively? Do they forget to turn off the lights when they leave? Do you leave the air conditioning running overnight? Detect the weaknesses, and then brainstorm ways to solve them with your employees – complete a waste audit. Make sure everyone knows what you expect of them and find fun ways to encourage waste reduction. Just be sure to update all members of the office monthly regarding the progress made.

  2.  Encourage and reward recycling
    Reward your employees when they meet or exceed waste reduction goals. They may do something as simple as using a company mug or glass water bottle instead of plastic, but it's crucial to ensure their efforts are recognized. You can implement “Green Teams,” where a member from each department encourages and reports the waste reduction efforts.

  3.  Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
    Does your company mail things often? Are you ordering items often? Reuse the cardboard boxes and eliminate elements of packaging that are not recyclable or made of single-use plastic. Some businesses that use large amounts of packaging sell their unused or gently used material, which has created new revenue streams for their business. Platforms like BoxCycle are making this more accessible than ever by connecting you to local packaging sellers and helping reduce environmental impact.

  4.  Refill printer and toner cartridges instead of buying new ones
    Toner and printer cartridges, along with batteries, are very difficult to recycle. Instead of purchasing new cartridges every time you run out, refill current ones. Even a small step such as this can make a significant impact on your recycling efforts.

  5.  Reusable rather than Disposable
    Replace your plastic utensils and drinkware with company branded mugs, reusable water bottles, and metal cutlery. Encourage your employees to stop drinking from plastic water bottles and encourage the use of water filters such as Britta instead.

  6.  Use cloud-based data storage
    Servers need to be powered 24/7 and can eat away at your sustainability efforts; cloud systems don’t.  Services like DocuSign can also eliminate the need for printing and mailing contracts, again helping achieve your waste reduction goals in an easy and measurable way! Google Applications is another way to facilitate the sharing of documents, presentations, and memos by taking advantage of the file sharing features— thus eliminating the need for printing.

  7.  Double-sided printing only
    If printing is something your business can’t eliminate all-together, then make sure all computers are set to a double-sided default. If it isn’t an important document, then require employees to send it to a printer that is loaded with scratch paper. This will help to eliminate the waste of paper on simple office memos by printing on the flip side of outdated documents.

  8.  Sustainable suppliers
    Work with suppliers that are also doing their best to reduce waste. Don’t want to cut ties with your current suppliers – collaborate with them to drive sustainable improvements to both businesses. Actions like reducing the number of boxes used for delivery, diminishing the delivery frequency, or even increasing the shipment volume are all changes that will have a significant impact on both yours and your suppliers' carbon footprint.

  9.  Reclaim and reuse parts from old equipment such as printers and computers
    Technology is great, but it can break down! Instead of throwing away old computers, servers, and phones, ask your IT department if pieces of these machines can be reused for other things. Maybe elements of your server can be salvaged and used as a backup in case the new one breaks down! Always think of technology in a circular sense rather than linear.

  10.  Use Eco-friendly cleaning products
    Cleaning products can be toxic and difficult to recycle. Encourage maintenance teams to be part of the waste reduction effort by purchasing Eco-friendly products. Brands like Seventh Generation, The Honest Company, and Method sell environmentally conscious cleaning products that get the job done!

Do you have other tips for waste reduction? Are you implementing some of these in your business? Share in the comment section below.