Simple and effective ways businesses can become more sustainable
Finally, here is some good news on the climate front. Sustainability conversations are transforming into pledges of action.
The government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and is putting its money where its mouth is in the form of a healthy $42.6 million investment.
Every day Aussies are demanding action. For businesses big and small, there’s a growing imperative to get greener.
It’s because retailers are continuously being told what to do, but not how to do it. And, when advice is given, it’s often overly complicated, labour-intensive and costly.
It’s no wonder that businesses (time-poor and resource-limited) are confused or just plain exhausted even thinking about sustainability. But the truth is, becoming more sustainable can be a source of competitive advantage, with 88 per cent of consumers wanting businesses to help them live more sustainably.
Here’s the trick. In the words of long-time climate change advocate Paul Kelly, from little things, big things grow. Becoming a sustainable business is a journey; every small step along the way adds up.
So, leveraging the power of creativity, here are some quick, easy, cost-effective ways to be greener.
Switch to Green Energy
Did you know that switching to greener forms of electricity can wipe up to 30 per cent of the carbon footprint for the average small business?
This might sound too easy, but it’s true. A simple phone call to a certified Green Energy provider is the quickest way to reduce your emissions significantly.
The trick here is to look for a provider that provides a carbon-neutral electricity product and actively invests in renewable energy. A good way to avoid greenwashing is to check out Greenpeace’s Green Electricity Guide. It provides a ranking of Australian electricity providers based on their efforts to drive the uptake of renewable energy, move away from coal and fossil fuels, and minimise environmental harm.
Get efficient with your lighting
With the cost of energy on the rise, this one makes sense in more ways than one. Educating employees on how to use lighting efficiently can make a big difference to your carbon footprint. Simply turning off lights when leaving rooms can significantly reduce your emissions, as well as shaving significant dollars off your bill with zero cost to your bottom line; but to get even smarter about it, switching to energy-efficient lighting can also be a quick and easy solution.
One such option is to use LED lighting. LEDs produce light up to 85% more efficiently than traditional light bulbs. Whilst the bulbs themselves are a little more expensive up front; they quickly pay for themselves as their improved energy efficiency can reduce energy bills by up to 40%. They also last up to 25 times longer, so there are even more savings to both the planet and your hip pocket in the long run. The good news, most LED bulbs can be used with any standard light fixture as long as they don’t have a dimmer switch or are enclosed in an airtight cover. Just check the socket is the same size, and be sure to choose a wattage that is the same or lower than the recommended limit.
Not handy with the toolbox or unsure what lighting is best for your store? Speak to your local electrician or check out businesses like Efficient Energy Group or Ecovantage to support you with this.
Scrap single-use and get your customers involved
Single-use plastics make up 85% of the plastic that enters Australia’s environment every year, including 275 million pieces of disposable food ware.
Where single-use items are still needed, consider switching to eco-friendly, biodegradable or compostable alternatives – like BioPak or Green Pack. Encouraging customers to bring their own refillable coffee or soft drink cups by providing incentives can have a huge impact. Make it easy for your customers by having reusable alternatives available for purchase, like Huskee, KeepCup, Made by Fressko and Frank Green.
Reusable cups are a great way to build customer loyalty and reduce overall costs associated with stocking these items. Plus, with more Australian states banning single-use plastics, keeping these items could end up costing you even more. Try applying a small discount for customers or throwing in a bonus snack when they use their own soft drink or coffee container. Or if a discount doesn’t work financially every time, consider introducing a loyalty card for bringing reusable cups. You’d be surprised at how many people will jump at a free Slurpee.
And that brings me to my next point.
If packaging can’t be reused, recycle, recycle, recycle.
Become king of kerbside recycling
Did you know that roughly half of Australian waste is still sent to landfill? Plastic is the worst by far, followed by glass and paper. The less waste that ends up in landfill, the better.
Just like reducing single-use, making it easy for your customers to be part of the solution not only reduces the impact your business has on the environment, but also helps increase shopper loyalty. It may seem like a no-brainer, but positioning commingled recycling at the entrance or exit to your store is a quick and easy way to get greener. You can even buy recycling bins made out of recycled materials!
If you’ve already nailed the basics and are ready to step it up a notch, why not start collecting coffee cups with a dedicated recycling station? It can be as simple as setting up your own sorting station to separate cup collections from lids and straws, or even collecting used batteries using Ecobin and then taking these to a local drop-off point. Find places near you via recycling near you, alternatively, check out organisations like Simply Cups or DetPak to arrange for your recycling to be collected.
We all know the saying, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And the same is true of sustainability. Becoming a B Corp overnight isn’t something that will just happen. But, over time, making small improvements, and switching to slightly greener practices, using better materials, engaging climate-conscious suppliers all add up.
And your customers will thank you. The overwhelming majority of Aussies want to make better choices for the planet, and they want businesses to help make it easy.
Sustainability is the next frontier of customer loyalty, and this is where Greener comes in. Consumers are keen to vote with their wallets and shop at green businesses, and businesses want to become greener and reach more consumers, so we’re bringing people and businesses together to do just that. We call it the Green Economy.
We’re shining a light on businesses doing better for the planet. Connecting climate-conscious shoppers with brands that are making an effort and rewarding customers for making a better choice by turning everything you buy carbon-neutral to help end climate change.
That’s good for the planet and good for business.
So if I can leave businesses with just one final tip, it’s that the key to becoming a greener business doesn’t mean you have to overhaul your entire operations or supply chain all at once.
Start small. Pick the low-hanging fruit and then work your way up. You don’t need to be a sustainability expert or even employ dedicated sustainability resources to make a big difference to your business and your customers’ loyalty.
The trick is just to start somewhere and share what you’re doing with your customers. After all, they are starting to demand this action and will love you for being part of the solution. And when you’re ready to accelerate your ambitions, look for organisations like Greener, which can help you differentiate in the eyes of the sustainable shopper. By coming together and harnessing their purchasing power, we can solve the most pressing problem of our time.
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