There are certainly some good indications that sustainable practices have a much higher visibility among the general public than they did just a few short years ago. One example of this would be the carrier bag charge which was introduced in Scotland almost exactly a year ago. Now that retailers must charge very small fee for a bag every time a customer requires one, demand has sunk – with the amount being used down by an amazing 80%.
However, while things like plastic bag charges are welcome, they are only a part of a wider move towards sustainability. The amount of plastic saved is of course a major benefit of the charge. However, there is an equally big benefit in that people are now put in a position where they are reminded of their plastic bag use pretty much every day. And hopefully this will lead to other sustainable behaviours such as being more observant of, say, water and electricity use.
If you run a business, you may already have started travelling down the ecological route, or it may be something you’re considering putting more focus on soon. Either way, there are always quite a lot of developments in the world of sustainable business, so it definitely pays to bookmark the best news and blog sites that cover green business – and maybe even join in the conversation too, which leads to our first key consideration:
Being knowledgeable about green business developments
Obviously the sites you will want to look at may differ depending on your geographical area, and they are likely to be a mix of government sites as well as blogs and news outlets. The things you may be looking to get more information on might include the following:
- Are there government grants or assistance for sustainable business in my area?
- Who are the leading ecologically engaged businesses in my area?
- Is there a green business network in my area?
Aligning business with ecological decision-making
The plastic bag charged mentioned above wasn’t the decision of one business acting unilaterally. But it was supported across the business community. And while it would once have been unthinkable that customers would need to either pay for a bag or reuse an old one, it has had no negative effect on business whatsoever. The important thing we can infer from this is that sustainability decisions and business decisions are unlikely to be mutually exclusive.
Make a list of all the various changes you could make for added business sustainability – and see which ones you can put into practise. It could be something as simple as energy saving or something more complex like changing product lines to phase out the less ecologically friendly within your sales catalogue.
Green businesses work together
Sustainability is often focussed on things like seasonality and things being sourced locally where this is possible. As a result, green businesses are very much community businesses – helping the wider environment while serving the local area. And according to a recent survey, two-thirds of customers say ethical values are a consideration in where they choose to shop. So why not get together with the other sustainably minded retailers in the area and work together to promote your shared goal?
Sustainability planning and measuring progress
Okay, so running a business that’s committed to sustainability goes way beyond lip service and reaches into pretty much everything you do – from the energy you use to the goods that you sell. But what’s the best way to keep up a momentum? Sustainability is in many ways not unlike a lot of other business activities – and it’s definitely worthwhile setting targets for things like the following:
- Use of recycled materials e.g. in packaging and for bags
- Reductions in utilities use
- Purchase of hardware e.g. solar panels
Progress towards your sustainability target may take a bit of time and effort, but when it’s measured against targets there can be a real sense of achievement when these are met or exceeded.