Let’s be honest: Businesses aren’t the best at preserving nature. Everywhere in the world, there are manufacturers of timber, oil, metal, and coal. These businesses can have unintended spillovers in the form of noise and pollution. And each time they open a new facility, they rid lands of trees and wildlife.
Their activities incur social costs on people and places, such as noise, pollution, visual blight, and congestion. Thankfully, though, more ethical businesses are emerging. They are striving to reverse the negative effects of business activities. New laws are being passed as well control business activities that destroy the environment.
You, too, can join these ethical businesses in their efforts, either as a fellow entrepreneur or consumer, or both.
Below are the ways to make your small business eco-friendly, and to influence consumers to make green purchasing decisions:
Let’s not limit our planet-saving actions to reducing plastic waste. Paper waste must go as well. If possible, skip the packaging for your products altogether. And if you’re buying essentials, choose the ones without any packaging.
In the office, have all documents in digital form instead of printing multiple copies of them. After all, younger employees, a.k.a. millennials and Gen Zs, are more accustomed to electronic files anyway.
Though paper is deemed the most environmentally-safe packaging material, it still generates waste all the same. Plus, packaging, no matter the material, adds up to a business’s production costs. So skipping the packaging benefits your finances as well.
Even before the pandemic, many young professionals already prefer flexible working hours and being allowed to work from home. Hence, amend your HR policies to give way for such arrangements. It will help your company save energy costs because there are fewer people in the office. You’ll also help decongest the roads.
Share Your Green Practices in a Credible Way
From 2010 to 2012, boycotts on business have gone up to 123%. Consumers are becoming more environmentally-conscious, so they’d rather put their money on businesses that truly employ green practices. However, any business can claim that they’re environmentally-friendly. They can simply label their products “Natural”, “Green”, or “Eco-friendly.”
But those claims won’t sound credible to a savvy audience. So instead of simply greenwashing, be transparent with your audience. Demonstrate your green practices. Obtain accreditation. These will prove to your audience that you are a genuine green business.
Practice What You Preach
Your business can be most sustainable and clean out there, but if you don’t apply its values to your personal life, then your business’s efforts are ultimately useless.
According to a 2017 study on corporate social responsibility (CSR), 68% of millennials bought products with social or environmental benefits in the past 12 months. 88% are more loyal to a company that supports environmental or social issues. And a whopping 92% are more likely to trust a company that does the aforementioned.
Those numbers clearly indicate that businesses have the power to influence consumers into making greener choices. But even as an individual, you can have the same power. The study also showed that millennials are the most likely demographic to tell their peers and family about CSR efforts and to give a company direct feedback. So make promote green businesses every chance you get, even in the middle of having fun. For example, when you’re out shopping with your girlfriends, lead them to stores selling eco-friendly clothes for women, rather than well-known yet unsustainable brands.
Power Off Computers and Unplug Electronics in Your Office
Most people aren’t aware that electronics continue to consume energy as long as they’re plugged in. So before closing your office for the night, power off the computers and unplug all electronics. Make it a policy in your workplace.
This may be a small action, but the amount of money you’ll save can make a big difference to the environment. Each time to unplug a device or switch off a light, you’re reducing your carbon footprint. In addition, requiring your employees to save energy in the office may encourage them to do the same in their own homes.
Communicate Your Business’s Unique Story
Aside from demonstrating your green practices, share your business’s unique story to your audience as well. This will help you build trust with your customers.
Start by creating or designing your marketing identity. Your identity refers to the way you want to be perceived. Today, many corporations are changing their identities so that consumers will perceive them as socially responsible or environmentally-friendly. Make that your goal as well, but of course, support it with genuine green efforts.
We may still have a long way to go before restoring the earth’s good health, but every step we take brings us closer to that outcome. So don’t underestimate your power as a small business, and as a single consumer.