It’s 2021, and business is anything but usual. We’re living in a time where our actions have the power to lead the world into a more sustainable future. To help do your part, here are eight powerful green initiatives that your small business can begin to implement today.
Why Go Green?
On one hand, today it’s easier than ever to run a small business—and the technology that got us here. You can build a meaningful social media following, zip packages across the world, lead a team meeting with employees scattered across the nation, send invoices with a tap, and do more or less all of the above from your kitchen table.
On the other hand, running a business as the world grapples with a developing climate crisis and ever-scarcer resources comes with a responsibility unique to this moment in time. Business owners may not have had to think about these issues decades ago, but today they’re impossible to ignore.
There was once a time where implementing green business initiatives was a“nice-to-have”, a charming gesture that usually garnered some nice PR and customer goodwill. But now the stakes are higher. As business owners, everything we do—even in our small pockets of the economy—has the power to tilt the scales at a global level.
Achievable Green Business Initiatives
Ready to start moving your small business in a sustainable direction? Here are eight green ideas to invest in.
1. Reduce physical waste
Survey your working environment, your services, and your products, and ask yourself: where can I cut out as much physical waste as possible? Could you pare down your packaging? Use recyclable or compostable components? Offer to mend or repair customers’ purchases so they don’t end up in a landfill? Consider everything from your products to your shipping practices to the swag you give away at conferences. How much of it is essential, and how much is simply waste?
2. Optimize your energy use
Once you tackle your physical waste, turn your attention to the often “invisible” waste you generate just by using energy inefficiently. Think inefficient light bulbs, lights left on in empty rooms or past business hours, charging cords and printers left plugged in overnight, and so on. Invest in compact fluorescent lightbulbs, install energy-saving power strips with automatic shut-off, and look for ways to optimize your energy use across the office. Sometimes the best solutions are low-tech: letting the sunlight in and opening a window can often be nicer than flicking on the overhead lighting and blasting the AC. After you address the basics, dare to go big: why not install solar panels or introduce renewable energy sources? It may not be as out of reach as it once was. Costs for solar panels, for instance, have declined dramatically over the past few years.
3. Support an important environmental cause
As the world focuses its resources on pandemic relief, health services, and inoculations, environmental organizations may be grappling with less funding and support than usual. This is a good time to research the local, regional, or global environmental issues you care about and choose an organization to support with your time, expertise, or regular donations. Try Charity Navigator’s list of highly-rated environmental organizations as a good starting point.
Tip: Want a quick green fix that you can implement right now? Swap your default search engine to Ecosia.org, which uses profits from searches to plant trees around the world.
4. Give gifts that keep on growing
Business gifts and conference swag are often well-intentioned but ultimately wasteful. First they’re a fun novelty, then they’re clutter, and eventually they’re just more waste. Ask yourself: does anyone really need another notebook, mug, or stress ball? Instead, give your clients, employees, and partners a gift that’s meaningful for them and for the planet. The Arbor Day Foundation lets you dedicate new trees planted in a national forest to the person of your choice. You can plant five trees—and send a certificate honoring the recipient—for as little as $10.
5. Amplify your voice
Don’t underestimate the power of speaking up for environmental causes. As an individual, you already have considerable power to organize around a cause or to petition local lawmakers. As a business, you have even more of a presence in the community as well as across your online and social networks. Speak up for what you believe in. Educate customers about causes you care about. Vow to donate a portion of proceeds to green initiatives. Rally other businesses behind your cause, too, and form an alliance. Use your presence to raise awareness and build support for important environmental issues.
6. Re-evaluate your investments
You may be doing your part to support green initiatives, but if your investments are tied up in planet-depleting industries, it’s time to rebalance your portfolio. Investigate how to shift more of your investments into industries addressing environmental problems—not exacerbating them.
7. Ask your employees and customers for their green ideas
Sometimes we’re so used to doing things one way, we miss fresh opportunities for change. Fortunately, your customers and employees probably have a wealth of ideas that could make your business more green. After all, they interact with your services and products every day, so ask them! For example, customers might point out that your shipping could be less wasteful, while employees may have ideas for sourcing more sustainable materials or cutting down on bottled water in the break room. It never hurts to ask—and the ideas you uncover may just surprise you!
8. Wrap up the paper waste
If you haven’t already gone digital, now’s a good time to join other businesses in stamping out paper waste. Invoice processing can be done easily with PaySimple’s online tools, and you can accept any form of payment from customers all with the click of a button or swipe of a card. Use PaySimple to add payment forms directly to your website and even create custom branded payment forms, reducing paperwork, paper waste, and papercuts. Win-win-win all around.
Working toward the future
We’re all here to do interesting work, make a profit, and create unique products and services for our customers. PaySimple can help you work toward sustainable business practices with our streamlined set of online tools and resources. Get in touch to learn about the options today.
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