Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

5 Tips To Build & Run A Sustainable Business

Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” — Robert Swan

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that climate change is real. It is probably one of the biggest challenges we face as individuals. The earth is suffering, and is crying for help.

We all need to dig deep and do everything it takes to turn things around, for a better future. Luckily, most businesses are realizing that the only innovation that truly matters in the modern marketplace is sustainability.

Did you know that sustainable business practices aren’t just right for the planet but can also do miracles for the reputation of your brand? Every little change can make a difference.

So, here are a few tips on how you can join the sustainability revolution and innovate to create a brighter future -

1. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

I know, I know… sounds cliché, right?

Try your best to reduce the amount of waste you produce at office. We don’t need to be piling stuff up for the landfills, more than we already do. That paper you used to scribble on during the meeting? Try to use your laptop instead.

Another way we can handle this situation is trying to be creative and reusing the same items. Do you believe in using reusable packaging for your products? Does your office use LED lighting instead of flourescent tubes? These are good questions to ask. Wherever you can, try and get reusable alternatives to single-use products.

Recycling is a must for any business. You need to ask yourself how your brand is promoting sustainability? What recyclable materials are being used in the manufacturing process of your product? It’s all food for thought, and with a little bit of planning, you can ensure your brand produces near zero waste. Recycle as much as you can. It is indeed that simple.

2. Ramp Up Your CSR Efforts

Every business now wants to boost their CSR efforts. But, what really is CSR?

Corporate social responsibility. Although an awful phrase, such a great idea. It is defined as your business’ way of giving back to the community in which it operates. There is a little bit of humour around this, which is like offsetting any damage your business might be doing to the community, by way of factory processes or final products.

As a business, here are a few examples of how you can incorporate CSR:

  • Source your resources as sustainably as possible. A few good examples here can be use recycled paper for your printers, and invest in a water cooler in your office instead of using plastic bottles.
  • Make sure you have a diverse workforce. Okay, not insinuating that you hire someone just for the sake of hiring diverse individuals. My point here is to hire someone for their skills, but don’t discount them based on race, gender, age, or disability.
  • Volunteer and raise money for charity. A great way to do this is by getting your whole staff involved. These fundraisers can be a great exercise for team-building and improving employee morale. A great thing is that it helps out charities in a huge way. Your team, by means of volunteering can have a huge impact on the lives of others.

3. Initiate Creative Loyalty Programs

In a marketer’s toolkit, loyalty programs have proven themselves to be one of the most effective strategy in building customer loyalty.

An interesting study shows that 84% of consumers say they stick with a brand that offers a competitive loyalty program. There is also a mention that the ability to earn rewards actually changes their spending behaviour.

So, why not implement loyalty schemes that actually help the environment? Let’s try and replace “Free muffin when you buy 10 cups of coffee” with “We will plant a tree for every 10 cups of coffee you purchase”.

A great example that comes to mind here is the brand Tentree, which offers to plant 10 trees in exchange for a purchase of their product. What’s really great is that they actually showcase the number of trees they have planted till date on their website. This highlights complete transparency on their part.

Sure, I do agree it involves a little more effort at your end, but it can become such a brilliant marketing campaign in itself. If executed well, believe me, it will not go unnoticed.

4. Get Yourself Certified

Becoming a certified B Corps business is not easy. But once you are signed up, there is an evaluation of your social and environmental performance that takes place every two years. Having a sustainability consultant on board to assess your performance is a great bonus.

If your business offers physical products or intangible services that have eco-friendly or sustainable elements attached to them, it is probably best to get certified. These certifications are offered to many businesses across the world by organizations dealing in such requests daily.

Here are a few examples of sustainability certifications you might want to consider for your business (based on your product/service):

  • Vegan
  • Fairtrade
  • Safer Choice
  • WaterWise
  • Leaping Bunny
  • Organic
  • Rainforest Alliance
  • Soil Association
  • Green Mark

Most certifications like the Fairtrade, Vegan, or Leaping Bunny are signs customers actively seek, so it’s worth having them on if you can, to open up a whole new audience for you.

You must also pay close attention to your suppliers in making sure they comply to the conditions set to achieve the sustainability tag. Getting certified, will by default build a brand for your product. However, that’s a whole different conversation for another time.

5. Remote Working Is Key

I couldn’t stress enough on the importance of remote working.

Completely acknowledging the fact that it is not always possible, and not every business allows for it, but working from home is becoming more common in business. We have the deadly virus to thank for this. Helping us understand that “work from home” is actually a possibility.

Now how does this help? Not only would you end up saving money on travel and reduce your carbon footprint, but, according to a few studies, productivity could also be increased by about 10–30%. Some might debate the authenticity of that statement. It really depends.

Even if it involves working from home a few days a month, that can still help to make a positive impact to the environment — our environment.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

Bonus Tip: Try Electronic Signatures

An electronic signature saves paper and ink, as you don’t need to print anything out in order to get a physical signature.

Did you know, it is way quicker too? Need to get your sales contracts and other important documents signed within half an hour? Not a problem. Tried and tested. You don’t need to follow up with people for days or weeks to get a simple document signed.

I know we can add a lot more to this list, but just thought it’s important to share with you the ones which generate the most impact. So, without impeding on the great work already done for the world, go ahead and ask yourself the question,

“Let’s go green?”

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Nitish Menon

Nitish Menon

Marketer writing about business, marketing, strategy, and other experiences from life.

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