The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Sustainability

Nowadays, more companies are focused on the health of the planet and the ability to protect the environment while providing goods and services. If you want to become a more sustainable business, there are several actions you can take.

Is Sustainability Right for You?

To become sustainable is not always easy. For some businesses, it may reduce profits if they cannot find a balance. Researching all of your green moves is essential, because one business’s sustainability efforts may have other consequences. However, you may also notice that you draw in more clients because of your sustainable practices. Consumers have become more responsible and want to support eco-friendly businesses. 

You can draw in the client base that shares your values through other advertising and marketing platforms. For example, using Google Adwords can help you display your ads on Google’s search result page. If you have never used Google AdWords, you may need an expert to help you. 

How Can You Make an Environmental Impact?

As a small business, you may not think you have a significant impact or that your sustainability choices matter in the long run. However, any aspect of a business can have some effect on the environment. Think about your packaging. Many types of plastic packaging do not break down and you cannot recycle them. The packaging fills landfills, and if you have a successful business, you are contributing to this waste.

Small businesses are a part of their industry’s environmental impact. For instance, those in the fashion industry contribute to 26 billion pounds of textiles in landfills. Businesses that prioritize the environment and social ethics can focus on sustainable innovations for the future. For example, if a type of non-environmentally conscious packaging is outlawed, you wouldn’t have to change to anything new if you’re already using green alternatives.

First, assess your pollution and the changes you need to make. According to the Government of Canada, conserving energy and improving manufacturing efficiencies can lead to a greener company.

What Steps Can You Take Towards Sustainability?

Once you decide to take an eco-friendly approach to your small business, how can you make steps towards more sustainability? First, think about any materials you purchase. Does your supplier have a social, environmental, and ethical stance on manufacturing? If not, seek out suppliers that do. Other examples of ethical practices include:

  • Responsible water usage
  • Paying employees livable wages
  • Manufactured with renewable or biodegradable materials

Other considerations include your storage and shipping options. You need to think about how you store your product before sale. For example, your freezers and warehouses may have an impact on the environment. When it comes to shipping, easy ways to be more green are to refrain from packing a tiny package in a large box and to use environmentally friendly shipping materials like recycled cardboard and biodegradable mailing pouches.

Many businesses consider going towards a paperless system to help protect the environment. Instead of file cabinets full of documents, digitized records not only save on paper but can save your company time, energy and space. If you are not already a paperless company, you may want to make the transition all at once. Ensure you have fail-safes and backups for all critical information, such as tax paperwork and invoices.

How can you support other eco-friendly businesses with your business?

It’s important to do all that we can to preserve a future worth living in. Explore ways to support other environmentally friendly businesses with your business. From using sustainably sourced promotional materials, to utilizing environmentally friendly energy sources, to supporting not for profits through donated products or services, there is no limit to what your business can achieve if you think outside the box.

Running a sustainable business can be achieved through various small steps. Understanding the impact you have on the environment can help you sort out what route to take to become a more eco-friendly company.


Written by Janet Lovelace and Gabriel McCay

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