As a small business it is easy to think what we do does not make a significant difference or that environmental issues are not as applicable as they are to larger companies. Yet, when taken as a collective effort, the small business community can make a huge difference to the UK’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to carry out business in a sustainable way.
Making small changes to work smarter, be greener and source sustainable materials all adds up. Not only that it can make a positive contribution to your profit & loss, which is also important and is not something to be shy about. Ultimately if you are not running a profitable business it will fail, if it fails you are no longer in position to help drive the changes that all industries must make as we seek to resolve the issues of carbon emissions.
So, the good news is that with a little effort you can potentially grow your business, make savings and contribute to the eco-friendly and sustainable revolution that is taking hold.
Here are some simple ideas to consider:
1. Supplier List
From a financial stand point it always pays to keep suppliers on their toes and be checking their quality and pricing structures. Another area to be focused on is their environmental impact and sourcing credentials. If they do not take notice apply pressure for change, or move to a supplier who takes these issues seriously. That way market forces will force those companies lagging behind to review their green credentials and improve their products to be more sustainable and less damaging to the environment.
We all know how important fresh water is for life and the amount of energy it takes to constantly clean and resupply it to us all. By making simple adjustments to our manufacturing processes, fixing leaky taps or even putting a brick into the toilet cistern, we can make a reduction in water usage. This saves energy and saves you money as water is an often overlooked overhead. At www.ecoflowersupplies.co.uk we have converted the area behind our factory into a garden space, with water collection from our roof used to provide the water for wild flower seeded paper, plants & vegetables that we now grow.
3. Fuel & Travel
Anytime we use a vehicle for work related activities it is a drain on energy and finances. Whilst it is not feasible to eliminate every trip we can, with careful planning, improve our logistics to reduce deliveries or work out more economical routes. This can also apply at the individual level, with car sharing, walking or cycling when practical to do so or just simply reducing our vehicle sizes. Fuel and travel costs can be very significant for a business and this is an area to concentrate on for the planet and the finances.
4. Recycle & Upcycle
Make sure you have clearly labelled recycling bins around the business, to ensure the maximum amount of waste goes into the correct recycling system. Or better still, if you are in an industry such as Print, make best use of your waste materials. At Dynamic Print we constantly seek ways to maximise first usage and then also secondary usage of off cuts, rather than them going directly into recycling. We now make a significant level of products, sold via Dynamic Print or www.ecoflowersupplies.co.uk that are up-cycled from printing offcuts from the guillotine process. This reduces the amount of materials we buy and have delivered in from our Suppliers, so the savings are extensive in energy used though the supply chain.
5. Cleaning & Chemical Products
Most chemicals are less than ideal when released into the environment. Review everything you use within the business to see if there is an eco-friendly alternative. This can be anything from eco-friendly washing up soaps to making changes in manufacturing chemicals used. Currently this may not always be cheapest option but the upside is immense for the environment if we reduce the amount of chemicals being released into the air, water ways and land fill. Eventually these options will come down in price if enough people adopt their usage.
More plants in the business not only look good they improve the air quality for everyone as they make their contribution to the oxygen and Co2 cycle. This can extend to outside the business also, trees and shrubs can be planted in small areas or large tubs.
Replacing machinery for the sake if it is not necessarily a positive contribution to the energy consumption cycle. However, when it is a case of upgrading old and inefficient kit to energy efficient versions it should be considered. All machinery eventually requires replacement and that is the time to ensure the most sustainable solutions are adopted. Modern machinery often runs on a fraction of the energy consumption of older models.
8. Lighting & Heating
Energy bills are extremely impactful as an overhead and also the usage is directly contributing to the emissions crisis. Take the opportunity to replace old legacy lighting with lo-energy LED solutions and ensure buildings are insulated and heating is not wasted. Simple steps like labels near lights, heaters and machinery reminding people to switch off when not required make a difference.
There are of course many more ways to make a difference to the environmental impact of your business and save money in the process, so get thinking about it today!