4 minutes to read
It's not unusual for small business owners to believe that sustainable practices are costly and time-consuming. However, sustainable development is crucial to the long-term success of your business — and it doesn’t have to be as difficult or expensive as you might think. Let’s take a closer look at why sustainable practices are important for small businesses and how you can incorporate them into your business model!
- Why is Sustainability Important for Small Businesses?
- How Can I Make My Business More Sustainable?
- Sustainability Can Boost Your Bottom Line
- Tell the World About Your Sustainable Efforts
- Reconsider Your Business Designation to Match Your Efforts
- Start Making Global Changes Today!
Why is Sustainability Important for Small Businesses?
According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In other words, it’s about meeting the needs of people today without damaging the planet or jeopardizing the ability of future generations to do the same.
There are three pillars of sustainable development: environmental, social, and economic. As a small business owner, you have the unique opportunity to address all three pillars through your business practices. For example, you can reduce your carbon footprint by implementing energy-efficient lighting and using recycled materials. You can also promote fair labour practices and support local economies by sourcing ingredients or materials from local suppliers. And finally, you can enhance your bottom line by developing new products or services that address unmet needs in your community.
The United Nations developed Sustainable Development Goals further expands on the three pillars and these are some goals you can embrace into your business practices.
Dedicated to being plastic-free and embracing sustainability through natural resources and practices, Plantish Future can be seen as a great model for this type of sustainability. You can read more about our story and find ways to embrace sustainability in your own business – and personal – practices.
How Can I Make My Business More Sustainable?
There are many opportunities for small businesses to implement sustainable practices. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Evaluate your energy use and identify ways to reduce your carbon footprint. This could range from installing commercial solar panels to using energy-efficient lighting to weather-proofing your building’s windows and doors.
- Review your supply chain and look for opportunities to source locally-produced goods and services. Try buying office supplies from a local store or sourcing ingredients for your product from a local farmer.
- Examine your waste stream and identify ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle materials and waste. Kraft Paper Tape is a great substitute for regular plastic tape or even reusing boxes from the packages you receive. You can also consider setting up a composting system to use recycled materials in your packaging.
- Switch to a cloud system with digital docs and even turn your files into PDFs using a free online PDF tool. Not only can this clean up your filing system, but when you merge files together, they take up less space. Best of all, all these files can be sent and shared to any device, making them accessible anywhere.
Sustainability Can Boost Your Bottom Line
In addition to having a positive impact on people and the planet, sustainable development can also have a positive impact on your bottom line — and that’s good news for small businesses! Sustainability can help you save money, tap into new markets, and develop innovative products and services. Especially with government initiatives and regulations like the recent plastic ban in Canada, embracing these practices now will help you in the long run.
Here are a few ways sustainability can affect your bottom line:
- Reducing your energy consumption can lower your utility bills.
- Sourcing locally-produced goods and services can save on transportation costs.
- Implementing policies and procedures that promote fair labour practices can help you attract and retain talented employees.
- Composting organic waste can reduce landfill disposal fees.
- Investing in renewable energy can qualify you for government incentives.
- Implementing green building standards can save on construction costs.
Tell the World About Your Sustainable Efforts
According to Ton to Ton, marketing your sustainable practices can be a great way to show customers that you’re committed to being a responsible and environmentally-friendly business. You can highlight your green initiatives on your website, in your advertising, and in your marketing materials. And be sure to implement your marketing materials in places where eco-friendly people visit. You can also participate in sustainability-themed events and promote your green initiatives on social media.
When you market your sustainable practices, be sure to emphasize the benefits for customers and the planet while being mindful of greenwashing. For example, you could highlight how using recycled materials in your packaging reduces landfill waste or how investing in renewable energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By emphasizing the positive impacts of your sustainability initiatives, you can inspire customers to make environmentally-friendly choices.
Reconsider Your Business Designation to Match Your Efforts
A sole proprietorship can offer several benefits for businesses that want to implement sustainable practices. For one, it provides several tax management solutions because the business and business owner’s finances are combined. However, this situation means that the owner is also financially liable for business debts.
Start Making Global Changes Today!
Implementing sustainable practices into our economy is crucial if we want to ensure a livable planet for future generations — and that’s where small businesses come in! As a small business owner, you have the power to make a big difference through sustainability efforts these areas we have discussed. And as a small business, you have the advantage to connect and bring something positive to your local communities over all those large corporations. Sustainability is not just about helping our planet and doing right by those around us, it is also great for business!
Brenda Kirby of greenstillmatters.com