Go Eco: How to Make Your Business Environmentally Friendly

                                                                                                        

Have you been looking for ways to be more eco-friendly?

With temperatures soaring to record-breaking levels and issues such as plastic pollution widely reported by the mainstream media, it is no surprise many people are trying to take a greener approach to life. If you are trying to make changes in your life, you are not alone. According to research, 75 per cent of adults are concerned about climate change, and many of these people have taken steps to change their lifestyles in response to these concerns. 

Whether you are passionate about the environment or simply want to do your bit to protect the planet, looking for ways to become as environmentally friendly as possible in your day-to-day life is a great place to start.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Aside from all of the usual eco swaps you can make in your daily life, there are ways you can go further to make a far bigger positive impact. If you own a business, you have an even greater opportunity to make a difference. Transforming your business into an environmentally-friendly organisation gives you the power to make a much more significant contribution. 

The Benefits of Running an Eco-Friendly Business

As well as being better for the planet, taking steps to make your business eco-friendly can also be extremely positive for your business. While this may not be the reason you have adopted a greener approach to running your business, it is certainly an advantage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Consumers are increasingly driven to shop with sustainability in mind. Research shows that 81 per cent of consumers prefer to buy their goods from sustainable sellers. This is good news if you plan to give your business an eco-friendly overhaul.

Due to the newly increased demand for sustainable businesses, you should also find your new direction gives your business a competitive advantage. If you are serious about transforming your business into a green organisation, you could make your company’s green credentials your unique selling proposition (USP). Focusing on your new, greener direction will help your business to be at the forefront of the new demand for eco-friendly products. 

So, you know that consumers are actively looking for eco-friendly businesses to buy from and that going green is crucial to reduce the impact your business has on the planet. But how can you transform your business into an eco-friendly organisation? Read on to find out how to make your business environmentally friendly:

Go Digital

One of the easiest ways to increase the eco-friendliness of your business is to go digital and make your admin processes paperless. A paperless workplace is an excellent way to cut down on the amount of paper, ink, and toner your business uses, helping you to reduce your company’s carbon footprint at the same time. 

If your business processes are mainly paper-based at the moment, it may take some time for your company to adjust to becoming paperless, but once you begin to introduce this change, you should be able to make the transition pretty quickly. 

Before you begin eliminating paperwork from your business processes, it is important to ensure that you are fully-equipped for the alternative. This involves introducing any software programs that may be needed to take over the tasks that were previously carried out on paper. Ensuring that you have sourced the appropriate software, got it up and running, and have trained your staff on how to use it before you say goodbye to using paper is essential. The transition to going paperless should be smooth, and this is much easier to achieve if you have thoroughly prepared.

If you don’t already have online accounting software that generates electronic invoices for your customers, now is the time to introduce this as part of your drive to reduce the use of paper. You may also want to invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, as this allows you to keep track of all your company data in one easily accessible place.

Once your company is no longer using paper at all, you should see more than just an increase in your business’s sustainability credentials. You should also notice your company’s running costs have reduced. This is because you will significantly reduce your need to power equipment such as printers, photocopiers, and scanners and to purchase the associated inks and toners that they require. You will also notice that you don’t need to pay as much for confidential recycling, paper shredding, and archiving services. Another significant benefit of a paperless workplace is that there is far less clutter lying around, as you have less paperwork to sort through and file away.

Re-Think Your Packaging

The packaging that you choose for your products has a significant impact on your company. Your packaging needs to be instantly appealing to your target market and also needs to represent your brand effectively. On a practical note, your packaging also needs to fulfil its functional purpose, which is to display your product and to ensure that it is protected in transit on the way to the retailer and when displayed in stores or on stands made from rigid setup boxes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

When sustainability becomes a focus for your business, you also need to consider how eco-friendly your packaging is. Your products need to be packaged in a way that is not only genuinely environmentally friendly but also represents your brand in the best possible way. Achieving this is not always easy, but when you get it right, the results can be extremely impressive. 

One excellent way to package your eco-friendly products is to opt for natural materials. Using eco-friendly packaging materials immediately demonstrates your brand’s values and what it represents through the use of visual cues. 

Using packaging materials such as tissue paper is especially effective when you are trying to make it clear to consumers that your products are environmentally friendly. As tissue paper is a recyclable, compostable material, it aligns perfectly with your brand’s eco values while also ensuring that your products are beautifully packaged. As well as choosing the perfect packaging materials, you also need to consider the colours you use in your packaging design. Shades of green and brown are the most popular choices when creating packaging for eco-friendly products, as these colours are strongly associated with nature.

Choose Your Suppliers With Care

Making every effort that you can to improve the eco-friendliness of your business is an excellent way to transform it into a business recognised for its sustainable approach. However, your efforts to be sustainable do not end there. As well as taking charge of your own business’s eco credentials, you also need to verify that other company’s are taking the same level of ownership.

In the course of operating your business, you likely deal with many other companies. Some of these companies will supply the components and equipment you need to make your products, while others will help with the distribution of your products and be responsible for selling them directly to customers. 

As your business will need to maintain a relationship with other companies, it will be associated with them. To protect the reputation of your business, you need to ensure that the other companies you deal with place the same level of importance on sustainability.

Discovering that one of your suppliers has been accused of greenwashing (promoting false claims of eco-friendliness) causes reputational damage not just their own business but by extension, yours too. When you have worked so hard to position your company as a sustainable brand, the last thing you want is for an associate company’s business practice’s to damage your reputation. To avoid this situation, it is essential that you choose your suppliers with great care. Carrying out your research, visiting their business premises, and drawing up robust contracts with your suppliers should help to ensure that your business is protected from reputational damage by association.

Make Energy Saving Changes

One final way to increase your business’s sustainability and ensure it meets its own standards for eco-friendliness is to make some small changes to the way it uses energy. Going paperless and using your printers, photocopiers, and scanners less will get your energy-saving efforts off to a great start, but there is still more work to be done. 

Often, small changes can make a big difference when saving energy and reducing your carbon footprint. Changing the lighting at your business premises is a perfect example of this. Changing from regular light bulbs to energy-efficient alternatives can save you a significant amount of power each year, as well as a lot of money. Choosing lighting that operates on a sensor, so it is only in use when needed, is also a helpful way to prevent lights being left on unnecessarily and wasting electricity. 

While each of these changes may seem small in isolation, when combined together, they can make a significant difference to the way your business operates and how environmentally friendly it is. As eco-awareness among consumers continues to rise, these changes will ensure that you are at the forefront of meeting customer demand while helping the planet.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.