Making a commitment to increased sustainability in a business will often start with a number of basic steps. Most companies are already conscious that cost-saving measures can go hand-in-hand with increased sustainability. In addition to cutting expenses, however, a move toward sustainability can be good for both the environment and the bottom-line. Marketing that emphasizes sustainable business practices is proving highly effective in today’s business environment.
Several essential steps toward sustainability are outlined below. Consideration of these steps should help any business to begin developing a sustainability plan.
Reduce Energy Consumption
Like other action that can be taken to implement sustainability, reduction of energy consumption makes good business sense. Energy consumption can be reduced in a variety of ways. On a macro level, the operational practices of the company will need to be analyzed. Transition to sustainability on an operational level will necessarily be a long-term goal that requires substantial study and planning.
Savings can also be realized, however, on the micro level. Research has shown that savings can be realized on a day-to-day basis when employees are alerted to the company’s efforts to reduce energy consumption. Simple steps like turning off lights and turning down thermostats can measurably increase a company’s sustainability.
Many workplaces have made significant strides in going “paperless.” Almost every business and industry can begin to move toward paper waste reduction. This will include converting files to digital format and reduction of redundancy in reporting and filing requirements. Strict oversight of paper reduction will allow a company to achieve waste reduction while continuing to comply with internal and external record-keeping requirements.
Waste reduction, of course, can involve much more than the “paperless” revolution. Reducing waste from the company’s manufacturing facilities can make a huge difference. As with any changes at the operations level, such transformation will require careful study and a long-range plan for implementation. On the micro level, analyzing waste in areas such as the cafeteria can also result in a measurable reduction in the environmental footprint of a business.
Whether recycled products can be used in a given business environment should be immediately evaluated. Often a switch to recycled products may be a cost-neutral step. In some cases, however, a transition to using recycled products may necessarily add to business expense. Often, such increased costs can be recouped over time by realization of increased good-will, customer loyalty and satisfaction, and employee retention.
Research on the options to use recycled products that may be available is an important first step in developing a sustainability plan.
Just as local sourcing is good for a company’s reputation in the local economy, it should also be part of the game plan for most businesses that are moving toward sustainability. A major reduction in energy consumption and associated expenses can be realized by implementing local sourcing of everything from raw materials to office products and equipment. In today’s business climate, a key strategy in demonstrating and fulfilling a business commitment to sustainability is evidenced by local sourcing.
New ideas and ways of thinking are generated when a business educates its employees about sustainability and the company’s commitment to sustainability. Training employees and providing internships to students who are studying in sustainability fields are excellent ways to promote innovation and sustainable practices in medium and large companies.
In today’s globally-conscious business environment, a commitment to sustainability education may go a long way toward both employee retention and the generation of new and innovative approaches to implementing sustainable business practices.
Christine Jensen is a business writer trying to earn an online mba degree in her spare time.