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If any emerges from the ongoing political debate on climate change or the Green New Deal legislative proposal, there will be increasing recognition of the importance of sustainability as a business practice.
Acting individually is certainly an important first step in creating a greener global society, but it will not be enough. Company contributions are also essential. To be very clear, the world needs extensive action by both individuals and companies on sustainability.
The bottom line is that solid, practical measures to protect and preserve our environment are good. A 2017 Nielsen survey found that consumers are increasingly fond of sustainable brands and that companies consider environmental protection as an important part of their purchasing decision. A 2016 survey by Cone Communications found that 64 percent of millennial respondents said they would not take a job with a company that is not committed to sustainability.
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Sustainability is more than putting a bin in the copier and break room (although these are good starting points). It's about taking a dedicated approach to building a different kind of culture and mindset in your company. Entrepreneurs should go beyond giving and green investing. Make your business sustainable by exploring these practical ways to reduce your company's carbon footprint.
1. Recycle more than just paper
When initiating a sustainability program, recycling is often the first thing business leaders consider. It is true that recycling is a key component of environmentally sound business practices. However, recycling doesn't just apply to printer paper.
In fact, many types of office supplies and equipment can be recycled. Consider initiating recycling programs for items such as printer / toner cartridges and ink, drinking bottles, packaging, file binders and cardboard containers or shipping materials.
Take this new sustainability initiative to the next level by learning how to properly dispose of electronic and digital equipment. Items such as computers and tablets, cell phones, devices and televisions require special disposal techniques. Look for responsible recyclers who can hold your old and unwanted electronic and digital equipment.
2. Work with eco-friendly providers
No company works in a vacuum. Your company needs suppliers and other stakeholders to provide all of the materials for it to function optimally. Each of these vendors is a new opportunity to advance your business sustainability efforts.
Examine your supply chain and ask if your suppliers are using sustainable practices themselves. If not, check out new options. Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Some consumer goods retailers are abandoning paper labels and cardboard packaging for materials made from recycled plastics and fabrics.
Consider giving preferential treatment to local vendors and small businesses as well. Reducing CO2 emissions through shorter or non-existent shipping processes alone can offset higher costs and reduce environmental impact.
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3. Be innovative
Not only can you track existing trends and technologies, but you can also find out-of-the-box ways to build sustainability into your business model. Think about how your brand can make its services and products more innovative in order to be more environmentally conscious and still achieve a competitive advantage.
A good current example of this is the new Amazon Day Delivery Initiative program from Amazon. This program gives Amazon Prime customers the ability to select a single day of the week for all shipments, rather than having them shipped individually as they become available. One-day shipments can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by Amazon's complex shipping processes.
4. Reduce waste
Waste reduction is another critical aspect of a corporate sustainability program. For example, you can rely on digital marketing and product promotion instead of printing catalogs and brochures to reduce wasted paper and ink.
Two other business processes that offer significant opportunities for waste reduction and operational efficiency are packaging and product labeling. There are eco-friendly options, but you can also evaluate whether your existing packaging can simply be safely reduced without sacrificing quality.
5. Stay up to date
Stay up to date on news and trends related to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Best practices in this area continue to evolve as new technologies and business cases are developed and refined. This is why it is important to find out about trends, both specific to your industry and sustainable practices in general.
Be open to regular evaluation of new options for packaging, shipping, and office duties. Consider not only the improvement in financial performance due to new processes or technologies, but also the positive effects on the well-being and productivity of your employees.
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