Sustainability in business is one of the most important considerations for any growing company. There are many different facets of business sustainability; all of which focus on the long-term impacts your business has on the world around them. Sustainable business practices have a positive social and environmental impact, but they also help your company remain successful in the long term.
Here’s what you need to know about corporate sustainability in 2022 and 9 key ways you can implement it.
What Is Sustainability in Business?
Sustainability in business is a broad concept that focuses on reducing your company’s negative impact on the world in the long term. When most people think of sustainability, they’re thinking of environmental sustainability, which is incredibly important. However, sustainability also has social and economic components.
A sustainable business model includes a wide range of internal and external sustainability practices. On a basic level, this could include manufacturing and shipping products in a sustainable way; as well as providing appropriate compensation and benefits for all employees.
Corporate sustainability also focuses on the long-term success of the business in conjunction with these ethical practices. While true sustainability in business can take time to achieve, it can also benefit your company financially in the long run.
Examples of Sustainability in Business
Companies around the world have been slowly adjusting their business models to become more sustainable. There are so many exciting and innovative ways that businesses have been able to adapt with sustainability in mind.
Using recyclable and environmentally-friendly packaging is a great example of sustainability for e-commerce businesses, who typically have to ship most of their products. However, many companies are taking this a step further with their own internal recycling programs. These allow customers to ship back empty packaging to be recycled or even refilled with more product.
Another great way to be more sustainable is to use renewable energy sources and minimize carbon emissions wherever possible. Additionally, partnering with community organizations that focus on social and environmental causes can be a very effective way to be more sustainable. Being intentional about the ways you are using your profits and where your money is going is an important component of any sustainable business.
Why Is Sustainability Important?
Sustainability is important from an ethical perspective, as it has huge benefits for both current and future generations. However, sustainability is also very important from a business perspective. Taking a sustainable approach can actually help your company build a loyal customer base and be more successful in the long run.
Competition for customers is higher than ever right now, and using a sustainable business strategy can help your company stand out. Many consumers are very concerned about the social and environmental impact of their purchases, and will specifically seek out sustainable product options. Because of this, sustainability can actually help boost your sales.
Additionally, you can use your sustainable business strategy as part of your brand identity. It shows customers that you are trustworthy and a market leader, and can help create brand loyalty.
7 Strategies to Up Your Small Business Sustainability Practices
There are so many ways that you can make your small business more ethical and sustainable for the long run. Here are nine sustainability practices that small businesses of all sizes can implement.
Repair Social Trust
One of the first things to do when developing your sustainable business strategy is to increase trust within your community. Many consumers have lost trust in business, the government, and other public entities as a whole over time. By repairing that trust, you increase brand recognition and loyalty while establishing yourself as a leader in the community.
There are many things you can do to build social trust. Honest and authentic communication is a very important part of this. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that you are staying involved in your community to show potential customers that you care.
Limit Over-Production and Reduce Waste
This is another one of the most effective ways to make your business more sustainable and reduce your environmental impact. Making your manufacturing processes more efficient will cut back on waste while also saving you money. Streamlining your means of production can also help you reduce your carbon footprint, because you’ll be using less energy to create each product.
In order to limit over-production, you’ll need to be able to accurately predict demand for each product. The best way to do this is to invest in technology that will analyze your sales data and forecast future demand.
Optimized Logistics & Shipments
This is one of the most important sustainability strategies for e-commerce startups. This starts with building sustainable packaging. When putting together your shipments, opt for smaller boxes or bags, and skip the additional filling whenever possible. Alternatively, you can use larger boxes but aim to fit more product inside. You should also use as much recyclable and biodegradable packaging as possible.
There aren’t very many electric transportation options for shipping yet, although this could change in the future with the introduction of more electric cars. For now, consider optimizing your shipping routes to maximize the number of deliveries you can make with fewer trips.
Find Environmental Certifications & Initiatives
As a small business, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to environmental sustainability. A good place to start is by getting a certification from a trusted environmental organization or participating in a larger initiative. The process of getting certified can serve as a road map for your company as you work to be more sustainable.
Getting rid of paper waste is a very important part of making your business more sustainable. Even among e-commerce companies, paper waste is still very common. Luckily, digital technology makes it easier than ever to cut back on the amount of paper you are using. For example, you can opt for digital receipts instead of physical ones, and use email instead of physical direct mailers. Digital project management tools can help you stay organized in the office without relying on physical file folders.
Offer Flexible Work Options
Computers and smartphones make it easier than ever for your team to work without actually coming into the office. By allowing your team to work remotely when possible, they will be able to skip the commute and cut back on their carbon emissions.
If your team has to work in person, encourage them to walk, bike, or take public transportation. You may be able to partner with your local government to offer reduced public transportation fees for your team.
Use Sustainable Source Materials
In addition to using sustainable packaging, you’ll also want to make sure that the product materials you are using are also sustainable. In addition to using eco-friendly materials, you’ll also want to make sure that your suppliers are providing a safe and ethical work environment for their employees. Consider partnering with local suppliers when possible to support your community and cut back on transportation costs.
Small Business Sustainability: Final Thoughts
Becoming a fully sustainable business is a long journey, but there are steps you can take right now that can make a huge difference. A sustainable business strategy is not only the ethical way to go, but it can also help you business succeed financially. If you’re interested in making your business sustainable, consider working with a third-party logistics firm like Print Bind Ship. Contact us today for a free consultation!