Sustainability

How Business Owners Can Positively Impact the Environment

You don't have to unilaterally save the planet overnight, but your business needs to begin going green where it can. Everyone working together will be the key to success.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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BY JOHN HALL, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, CALENDAR@JOHNHALL

When you launch a business, climate change probably isn't your foremost concern. That is, unless addressing climate change is what your company is all about. But it is an issue every entrepreneur should be concerned with because where environmental issues are concerned, no business is too big or too small to fail.

Climate-related issues pose tremendous threats to businesses of all sizes, but risks such as severe weather events may be most devastating to smaller companies with fewer resources. Every brand needs to put the issue on its radar and effect change through action. Even baby steps, like changing your packaging or installing motion sensor lights in the bathrooms, can add up to a significant impact.

Although such changes may require some upfront investments, they will pay dividends down the road. You can help make a difference right away, so get started. Here are a few ways you can.

1. Reduce Your Energy Overhead

Utility costs can be a major line item in your budget. If you don't think your consumption is significant, consider the fact that commercial buildings with less than 50,000 square feet of space are responsible for a whopping 44 percent of commercial energy use in the United States.

Installing those motion sensor lights, powering down computers outside office hours, and using smart thermostats are easy fixes. But to make a meaningful reduction in your utility costs and carbon emissions, power your business with solar energy.

Valuable tax incentives, overproduction buyback programs, and increasing affordability make harnessing the power of the sun a smart move right now. Even if you lease your space, consider solar panel leasing programs and renewable energy credit purchasing options to keep your company sunny-side up.

2. Make Climate-Conscious Purchasing Decisions

Looking at your monthly expenses, you might be surprised at what your business is spending money on and how much. Typically, when companies review these expenditures, they analyze factors such as product or service quality, availability, and cost-saving potential from other suppliers. But what if you work environmental impact into the mix?

I noticed, for example, that our company was spending a lot on cases of bottled water for our employees and filling our recycling bins with empties. So we installed a water bottle refilling station and bought personalized Stanley tumblers for everyone to use instead. Our employees love their customized tumblers, stay well hydrated, and relish the fact that they're reducing their environmental impact.

Another tactic you can employ is purchasing supplies from nearby vendors. You support the local business community and lower carbon emissions caused by transporting products across the country and around the world. 

You're trying to run a business, so you don't have to change every procurement practice at the same time. But making more eco-conscious purchasing decisions as time and budget allow is a win for everyone involved.

3. Rethink Travel and Transport

Business travel may not be back to pre-pandemic levels, but it's increasing across the board. Airlines have resumed their overbooking strategies to fill planes, and rental car companies are beginning to replenish fleets. With the world moving again, carbon emissions are resuming their upward trend. But there are some great opportunities for compensating for them as well.

If your business owns company vehicles, now may be the right time to begin swapping out gas guzzlers for electric vehicles (EVs). And when you invest in charging stations to keep your fleet ready to roll, don't forget your employees. Their ability to literally recharge their batteries while they're at the office may encourage them to take the EV plunge as well.

If your employees need to travel long distance to conduct business, make sure they're flying on airlines with sound sustainability practices and fork over for the carbon offset if you can. Better yet, if you want to truly reduce the expense and environmental impact that travel involves, travel sparingly. When possible, use technology to do business with remote partners instead.

The Color of Success

Improving your company's environmental impact isn't just good for the planet these days. It's also a way to win the hearts of employees and consumers alike. Climate change is a major worry of Millennials and Gen-Zers and an increasingly important concern for everyone else. If your business doesn't board the sustainability train soon, it may be left standing on an empty platform.

It's time to view every aspect of your business through an environmental lens to see what changes you can bring about. Incorporate green strategies in long-term business plans and be prepared to invest the necessary resources. And don't forget to let your employees and your customers know about your commitment. The color of your company's success will be green all around.

Photo credit: Getty Images.

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