Why sustainability is a must for small-businesses
Better for the environment actually means better for your business too.
Running a small business takes grit, sweat, and heart. Across the United States, it's commonly acknowledged that small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and for good reason. As a small business owner, you're directly contributing to the local economic conditions on the ground by creating employment opportunities, filling a demand for products or services, and simply furthering the sense of community where you live.
These days, consumers are growing more conscious of what they buy and where they buy it from. Local businesses and farmer's markets are enjoying a resurgence in popularity because consumers are starting to think critically about their consumption patterns and how to create a bigger impact. This includes, of course, their impact on the environment. Now, more than ever, consumers are willing to spend more money to buy eco-friendly products and to support sustainable business practices. 1 in 3 consumers prefer eco-friendly options, and companies are starting to take notice.
As a small business owner, you might question the impact your company will have on the environment, and whether this is truly worth investing into. But just as small businesses can really impact the local economy, so you can have a surprisingly big impact on the environment. By taking the time to develop a business sustainability plan, which is a simple strategy to reduce your environmental impact, you can streamline operations to save money while also bringing in more conscious consumers. Here are the top three ways that going green can help drive positive result for small businesses.
Streamline operating costs
People tend to associate higher costs with sustainable business practices, but in many cases the opposite tends to be true. If you’re going green, buy adopting renewable energy sources, such as installing solar panels to power your operations, you can amortize the cost of the solar panels over time and see how it compares to your high current utility bills.
In addition to switching out green options for what you’re currently using, think about where else you can reduce costs through sustainable practices. Streamlining your operating costs means assessing what you’re doing, what you’re using, and where you can trim the excess. For example, offices that rely on paper communications can think about switching to email. Small tasks like printing receipts can be updated and customers can be texted or emailed a receipt instead. Making the switch to online billing and paperwork cuts down on your paper waste and your paper-related costs.
Where you can’t cut down, you can use the money saved to purchase sustainable alternatives instead. Still keeping with the paper theme, there are lots of options for post-consumer recycled paper that you can easily swap out for what you’re currently using. Most products these days have some sort of sustainable alternative on the market, such as products made from 100% post-consumer waste, biodegradable takeout containers and utensils and so on. As the cost for manufacturing these alternatives have come down significantly in recent years, especially with the increased demand for eco-friendly products, small businesses can more readily find a new vendor to source products from.
Improve employee satisfactionPeople want to work for a company whose values mirror their own desire to create impact. When the company that you work for champions values that matter, it creates a sense of pride that just can’t be generated through other external means. As a small business, especially, you have the opportunity to engage your employees in the process of implementing more sustainable practices and give them a say in how your organization can become more eco-friendly.
In this way, employees can help take on more responsibility in improving business operations and create a bigger sense of ownership in the work that they’re doing. Having alignment between your employees and your company’s mission will ensure that you can attract and retain skilled individuals who are excited about coming to work. Happier employees mean happier customers, which is a win-win in our book.
Attract more investors and customers
Once you’ve involved your employees into the process and gotten alignment on your vision of creating a more sustainable business, it’s important that your customers know about your efforts as well. Be sure to incorporate eco-friendly messaging into your product branding. Where relevant, look for opportunities to get official certification and label your products as 100% compostable or recyclable where applicable. If you’ve adopted sustainable practices around your office, consider getting LEED certification, which is a sustainability standard for buildings and communities. These are the small things that will make a big difference in the mind of conscious consumers.
Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are looking for local brands with products that align with their own values. Ensuring employee satisfaction is just as important as ensuring customer satisfaction. A small business with clear goals for sustainability will not only energize current customers, but also bring in new customers with minimal marketing and PR efforts because the word will naturally get out about your efforts.
In addition to bringing in more customers, you may also attract the eye of investors. Many institutional investors are building out their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) portfolios, and this is the kind of business practice that they would be interested in. Small businesses with a clear sustainability agenda will attract like-minded investors and also make you stand out from your competitors in this arena as well.
People, planet, and profit
Although these are laid out as separate reasons, the beauty about incorporating sustainable practices into your business is that it will help you save money AND make a positive impact on the environment. When you prioritize the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit, you will naturally attract more customers and thus open up more customer segments and revenue generating opportunities. Every detail matters when you’re a small business, and sustainability is no exception.
Life. Made Better.
LifeMade is all about making life better through sustainable innovation and product experiences. Every step we take in this direction brings us closer to our vision of a no-compromise future — one where everyone has access to disposable products that are as good for the earth as they are convenient and enjoyable to use. As pioneers in our industry with a century’s worth of experience, it’s our responsibility to harness what we do best — materials innovation and production — for a better world. We’re inspired by the families that enjoy our products and committed to meaningful change.