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6 ways to make your small business more sustainable

Making your small business sustainable doesn't have to be difficult. Here are some changes you can implement today to help make your business more environmentally conscious.

4 min read

With consumers wanting more environmentally friendly options to help combat climate change, being green is not only good for the planet but good for business too. However, as a small business owner, you might be struggling to find ways to make your business more sustainable.

Deloitte UK’s recent sustainability report found that 32% of consumers are highly engaged with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. It also found that 28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.

Of that, the research found that the sustainable brand practices that consumers value most include reducing your carbon footprint and providing sustainable packaging.

This blog looks at some practices you can implement to help make your small business more sustainable.

How to calculate your carbon footprint

First things first, you need to find out what your carbon footprint is so you can figure out where to start making changes. This is important because, according to the FSB, 69% of small businesses don’t know how to measure how much carbon emissions their business produces.

There are different carbon calculators available, like the Carbon Trust. It takes into account your fuel use from any cars, electricity usage and what appliances you use for your business. 

Using secondhand items 

A simple step when you are moving towards a more sustainable business is using secondhand items wherever you can. If you have a small office space that you need to furnish, why not look for a secondhand desk on Facebook Marketplace, or go to your local thrift shop for some desk lamps and chairs? 

This also means furniture that still has life in it doesn’t necessarily end up in landfills. Choosing functionality and sustainability doesn't have to come at the cost of style either. There are great vintage pieces waiting to be discovered. 

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Always remember the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle! 

The best way to keep waste out of landfills is by never sending it there in the first place. If you are a coffee lover, for example, and you work from home, you can hit two of those three Rs off the list by buying a reusable coffee mug for all your purchases. You’re saving another disposable cup from the landfill and still getting the caffeine kick you need! 

Try to reuse items whenever possible. Depending on what your business is, this can be anything from reusing structurally intact boxes, using offcuts or maybe even offering ‘imperfectly unique’ products at discounted prices.

When reducing or reusing isn’t possible, recycling is the next best thing and this applies to your old technology devices too. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, there are 40 million unused gadgets in our homes. Which? has some great tips on how you can recycle your old tech, from trading it in and selling it to taking it to shops like Apple and Currys PC World which will recycle it in-store.

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Use sustainable packaging

If you sell products, the packaging is a major part of your business. According to Food Navigator, between a quarter and a third of all domestic waste comes from packaging. And it’s no wonder! All this material can add up quickly, from the decorations that products are wrapped with and the boxes they are sent out in. 

A great place to start is with recycled paper and cardboard or using paper tape instead of the plastic version. You could even opt for compostable packing peanuts instead of bubble wrap (no matter how fun it might be to pop!). There are also a lot of eco-friendly packaging companies available online. 

Make energy-efficient upgrades

Whether you’re a small business owner or side hustler, and no matter where you are working, becoming energy efficient is good for all. This doesn’t only help to minimise your carbon footprint but also helps to reduce your energy bills. 

You can do this by using energy-efficient appliances like LED lights or smart thermostats.

Use green web hosting services

If you need a website for your small business or eCommerce side hustle, it’s important to know how green the services that host your website are. This is because servers that host a website’s data are constantly on, using copious amounts of energy. 

The Green Web Foundation is a great place to start and also offers advice on how to start your green website journey. 

When it comes to climate action, any change you make is better than none at all! Whether you have a small business with your own space or are running a side hustle from home, there are small changes you can make to be more sustainable. 

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