If you are a small business looking to implement “greener” business practices and make a positive impact on the environment, then you are at the right place! Going green will not only reduce your impact on the environment, but it will also impress your customers and give them one more reason to support your business.
Customers are steadily realizing that many companies are doing more harm than good and would rather support those businesses that are doing something to reduce waste and make a positive impact.
‘'Greenifying” your business will help you to look outside of your own business to the world at hand. You have to ask yourself, are the practices in my business breaking down or building up the environment and those around me? Going green does not have to be expensive or complicated and that is why we have provided 6 simple ways to help you greenify your business.
Donate some of your profits to a good cause
This suggestion may seem daunting especially for a small business post-COVID-19. The times we are living in are quite unsure, as thousands have lost their jobs and do not have a way to make ends to meet. Being a small local business in South Africa is not just a privilege but a responsibility to look after our communities in whatever way we can. Customers would much rather choose one business over another if they knew that their money was going towards helping and supporting the less fortunate. "Ubuntu baba” is a local South African business that sells high quality baby carriers for parents or caretakers to wear. They donate R16 per purchase made to the Trash2Treasure program in Westlake, Cape Town and have been able to donate R103,102 to date. They have managed to help 59 families whilst running a successful small business. They are also showing their customers what really matters to them as a business. It is not just about the money for them but also about looking after those that cannot look after themselves.
Green procurement only
According to Sustainable.org/za, ‘green procurement’ is ‘the purchasing of supplies and services that have a smaller negative impact or even a positive impact on the environment and human health’. You can determine the environmental impact when you evaluate the life cycle of a product – from the removal of the raw materials, to the manufacturing process of the product, how it is packaged, and lastly how it is disposed of. Making use of green procurement only will mean that you need to do ‘background checks’ on all of your suppliers. Ask yourself these questions: Do my suppliers make use of ecofriendly products? Are the goods ethically produced? What do they do with waste? Are they supporting other local suppliers?
It may seem that going green costs more initially, but its benefits long-term far outweigh the cost. Green procurement can be as simple as choosing to use recycled paper over non-recycled paper or it could be implementing fair working conditions in service delivery. Choosing green procurement only will mean that you need to know how resource-efficient your goods, suppliers and services are. It is a major selling point for your business, as sustainability is becoming more and more a pressing concern for customers and a good product is no longer enough to attract a customer. Green practices are.
Use eco-friendly options for packaging
Packaging may be one of the most important aspects you have to think about in the manufacturing process of your goods, especially if you ship most of your goods to your customers. Online shopping has become the norm post lockdown, and one has to ensure goods arrive safely at their destination. For example, if you have to ship a glass or ceramic item, you will need to make sure that the item does not break during transit. You may be wondering where you will find bubble wrap in bulk, but bubble wrap is plastic and it takes close to 500 years to deteriorate, not to mention the fact that plastic is also to toxic to the environment. Environmentally aware customers will instantly be put off before they even have your product in their hand. They will probably assume that you don’t care about the environment (at least not as much as you care about your profits) and may never buy from your business again. You can prevent this narrative from playing out! You can choose eco-friendly packaging that is affordable as well as pleasing to the eye.
We have written an article to help you navigate the different packaging options available to you. Check it out: Environmentally friendly Packaging alternatives that doesn't cost a fortune.
Create environmental awareness on social media
Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are known to be catalysts for influencing people. If people like what they see, and your stories and posts are engaging enough, you could gain a good following. Social media is the perfect platform to encourage others to care for the environment and to educate them on how to do so. Customers do not always know why going green matters so much, so tell them and show them what you as a business are doing about it.
Reduce – Avoid over-buying as much as possible, buy what you need – only buy in bulk if you know you will need large quantities. Packaging does not have to have several layers of unnecessary plastic packaging. Less is more! Before you recycle, first minimize the resources your business uses.
Re-use - Use what you can again and again (especially packaging). You will be surprised at how many uses a simple box for example can have. Donate surplus office supplies to charities, do not just discard! Consider creating a compost heap for food waste if you are food business.
Recycle – Make a conscious effort to recycle paper, cardboard and plastic and buy recycled goods as much as possible. ‘'Remade Recycling" is a local business that has a collection service that runs consistently regardless of Public Holidays and no sorting is necessary as all recyclables go into one bag. They collect paper, glass, cans, plastic, large appliances, and moving boxes. Residents only need to place their bags outside of their homes on collection day making recycling so much easier.
We hope these suggestions on how to go ‘greener’ in your business were helpful and will inspire you to come up with many ideas of your own. It does not have to be burdensome; it is simpler than many people think and will indeed positively impact the environment. Let us know what you have done to go greener in your small business. Please comment below - we would love to hear your suggestions!