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How to Improve Business Sustainability

It’s 2017. Sustainability is becoming a mainstream trend for business owners, but it’s not too late to start a new program at the office. 

Not only are your customers looking for a business that takes a sustainable approach, but current and prospective employees are also looking to join organizations who share the same values as they do. Put simply, a business that projects an eco-friendly corporate image has a distinct advantage. 

But as a business owner, where do you begin? More often than not, your employees are the best place to start. Involving them in the process of deciding which corporate sustainability initiatives to tackle, will set you up for success. 

Involving Your Employees With Sustainable Business Practices

Making sustainability a focus for your business not only saves money, but is also a smart business decision. Reducing the amount of waste you produce is good for your company and the planet.

“Most employees do care about being sustainable and the environment. They often have it ingrained in their minds as ‘This is how I do work,’ so it’s important to engage with them about what they can do from a sustainability perspective.”
Kevin Wilhelm | Sustainable Business Consultants

If you are looking to implement sustainable business practices, host a kick-off meeting with your employees to keep them in the loop of new changes that will be coming their way. Some employees may be resistant to change, but Kevin points out “It’s always helpful to show what a pound of food waste looks like, or how much trash an average dumpster holds. Put everything in perspective.”

Tap into your employees for suggestions on what they would like to see the company tackle first. Keep them engaged throughout the year with check-ins and status updates on whichever goals you set. 

Sustainable Business Practices That Mean Business

Move Towards Energy Efficiency
Almost all utilities now have incentives for companies to make an energy efficient switch. Install motion sensors in conference rooms that go unused so that lights are only on when they are occupied, and replace compact lights with LEDs. 

Conduct a Waste Audit
Some public works departments will perform a waste audit for a business completely free of charge. They will help identify items that you throw away that instead can be diverted either via donation or a nearby recycling center. They can also connect you with local organizations who can accept items that would have been thrown away. “In Seattle, Starbucks bags up their coffee grounds for composting instead of sending them to a landfill,” Kevin explains. 

Reduce the Amount of Paper Used
Think about all the daily pieces of paper that are not only printed, but scrapped from notepads and planners. With the exception of things that will hinder daily operations, think of ways to reduce the amount of paper used at the office. Start by scrapping agendas for meetings, replacing them by writing out the agenda on a whiteboard.

Start Your Own Corporate Sustainability Initiative

Whatever sustainability goal you decide to move forward with for your business, make sure that it is measurable. Avoid general, overarching goals such as ‘Reduce less waste.’ Instead, move towards specific goals with clearly defined ends so you can measure business success. 

Integrate your sustainable initiatives into your business meetings. If you do monthly or quarterly business reviews, slot 10 minutes to check in on how your new sustainable business practices are performing.