Women In Business

8 tips to become a more sustainable business

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Sustainability in the workplace might be the last thing on a business-owners mind. However, sustainability has become more than just a buzz word – sustainability has real business benefits when conscientiously integrated into business operations, not to mention the potential positive impact on our precious planet. Developing sustainable business practices can in turn enhance employee productivity AND reduces costs! Here are my top tips for a positive, planet-strong impact on your staff, colleagues and office space:

1. Power down

Sustainable business practices don’t need to eat into your corporate profits. Reducing costs encompasses energy conservation strategies, which can be as simple as powering down at the end of the day, to insulating walls, to switching out your lighting for LEDs. Some solutions may be more expensive to implement, but the long-term results will justify your investment.

Having your team switching off computers, lights, printers etc. at the end of the working day is a simple start to conserving power, which will directly result in the reduction of your electricity costs. Where possible, you can also reduce travel costs (and your carbon footprint) by opting for video conferencing instead of travelling interstate for meetings. 

2. Manage waste responsibility

Business waste practices have grown to encompass things like waste mitigation in paper (conserving trees and forest habitats) to reassessing engineering processes (developing processes that use less raw materials and produce less waste during manufacturing).

Here’s an easy first step – if your office doesn’t already have a recycling bin, it’s time to introduce one! Encourage your staff to separate waste into paper, plastic/glass recyclables and even food scraps for composting (a sealable kitchen container will do). For composting at work, create a roster to ensure it’s emptied on a regular basis – some workplaces have staff take food waste home for their own composting, and some set up a compost bin outside the office.

If you want to delve into your waste reduction a little further, bin audits are a great way to understand your waste. Separate your rubbish by type (e.g. compost, recycling, general), estimate the percentage of waste in each pile and record it. Once you’ve audited your bin, start by taking note of the “low hanging fruit” – things that you can change easily which will contribute to a big impact. It might be eliminating a certain item that frequently ends up in your waste, or sourcing a local recycling centre for items that can’t go in the office recycling bins.

3. Get your green on

Having plants in your indoor environment can help clean the air and improve your mood! If you thought that there was no room for a slice of nature in your office, then think again – plants make an excellent decoration for any desk, especially easy-to-grow succulents.

4. Reassess the commute

And don’t forget to lead by example – walk, ride or catch public transport to work to save on both petrol and carbon emissions. If you have an alternative to cars, use it. Some of your team may even be up for car-pooling if they live in the same area so they can reduce their collective carbon footprint.

5. Minimise consumption

If your business has a coffee pod machine, invest in reusable capsules (we recommend our Bluecup capsules for workplaces). Coffee pods are a fast-growing contributor to landfill, however refillable pods are the most sustainable way to brew with capsule machines – they’ll save on waste and money.

Plastic is fatal for animals who mistake it for food or become entangled in it, so when it comes to water, stick to tap! Plastic water bottle pollution ends up in landfills and impact millions of animals and habitats. You might also consider keeping a few reusable shopping bags handy in the office for grocery runs. Plastic bags actually break up into tiny micro plastics and remain indefinitely in the environment, and reusable shopping bags are a simple, easy alternative to single-use plastic bags.

6. Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products

Organic, chemical-free cleaning, what’s not to love? Bi-carb soda and vinegar are a great replacement for many commercial cleaning products. Do the numbers – moving away from commercial cleaning products can also save your business on costs.

7. Look at lunch habits

Swap single-use plastics for reusable alternatives, such as ceramic mugs, stainless steel cutlery and glass cups. Single-use cutlery is used for a few minutes and discarded to remain in the environment forever. If you or your team is getting food to-go, encourage them to pack a set of cutlery to take with them. Just a regular knife and fork wrapped in a cloth, pouch, or container will do the trick.

When having food delivered or ordering from apps like Uber, let the restaurant or cafe know that you don’t need cutlery by adding a note at checkout. If your crew have a favourite go-to for takeaway, it’s always worth finding out if they’ll let you bring a reusable alternative.

Coffee cups are not recyclable in most locations. Even ‘compostable’ cups are rarely composted as they require very specific facilities and conditions. Encourage your staff to avoid takeaway coffee cups simply by bringing along their own reusable cup, or grabbing an office mug before heading to your local café.

In general, it’s great to have a handy stash of reusable containers and cutlery in the office kitchen so that your team don’t have to rely on single-use plastics.

8. Get the conversation started

Start a conversation with your team about sustainability. Many companies now are becoming more aware of how sustainability is important, not only for the greater good, but also for attracting socially-engaged customers and clients. By making these changes, you can help to inspire and encourage others to take a step towards a low-carbon life.

When beginning these conversations around plastic pollution, keep it positive. Focus on solutions – people are much happier to join in that way. Promoting your environmental values in a positive way will encourage your team to feel motivated to join you.

About Kayla Mossuto

Kayla Mossuto is a mother and caffeine lover on a mission to leave the world a better place for future generations via her female led business Crema Joe – the first reusable coffee capsule brand in Australia, helping consumers to reduce waste with their eco-friendly refillable pods.

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