In a world at the tipping point of irreversible climate change, eco friendly business can be the answer to a more sustainable future. If you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur interested in green entrepreneurship, you should know how a green business helps not only the environment but also the business itself.
If an eco business sounds appealing to you, stay tuned to learn more about sustainable business and tips on creating your own sustainable business.
Why do we need sustainability in business?
Gone are the days when our priority was economic and business growth without limits. There was a time when we didn’t pay much attention to Earth’s resources like they were infinite. But reality hit us hard.
Nowadays, increased pollution and resource scarcity have forced us to rethink our current unsustainable economic models to avoid environmental collapse. For this reason, new production models have emerged using sustainable principles like those of the circular economy.
But as a retreat to our current living standards is out of the question, maintaining our current production levels is the only way. To achieve this, businesses need to adopt eco friendly practices and introduce sustainable processes in their day to day operations. With the help of a circular economy, companies can become greener in various ways.
What is a green business?
The idea of a green business is to do more good to the environment, the economy, or the community than harm. That is a straightforward definition to describe a forward-thinking company regarding our current global challenges like human rights and the environment.
A green business typically follows a sustainable business idea that couples sustainable resource usage with ethical and responsible policies. What differentiates a green firm from any other traditional business is that the first constantly monitors its environmental impact. Also, they are proactive in finding more eco friendly practices.
IKEA – An eco-friendly business example
To illustrate this better, let’s look at an actual business example. Consumers in Sweden can now find the first in the world IKEA second hand store. IKEA has introduced a buy-back scheme for its customers, who can now receive vouchers for their lightly used furniture and other items.
With this innovative idea, IKEA seeks to become one of the most sustainable furniture companies by adopting more eco friendly business practices. They extend its products’ lifecycle and encourage the sharing economy through product reusability. This IKEA initiative contributes to reaching the EU 2030 climate targets to reverse climate change.
How to make your business more eco friendly
Suppose you are a business owner caring about your company’s impact on the environment. In that case, there are various things you can do to make your business eco friendly.
1. Offer flexible working arrangements
A survey found that even in 2022, 6 out of 10 workers in the U.S. still prefer to work from home. At the same time, a study from Stanford found that working from home increases productivity by 13%, which is reported by 77% of remote workers.
As more work seems to get done online, there is no reason to cram your office with people. Not only can it benefit your business, but it is also a great way to make your business eco friendly.
Fewer people commuting to work daily equates with less cars on the road and less CO2 emissions. Further, flexible working can help your business cut costs and save money from stocking, heating, and lighting your workplace.
2. Buy second hand furniture and items
If you are, for example, just starting your business or seeking to make renovations, you should consider second hand stuff you can use to decorate your offices.
We know that it feels good to use custom made or brand new furniture, but if you genuinely care to create an eco friendly business, you should make some concessions right there. To find second hand furniture for your office, you can search for advertisements in the local newspaper or on social media. Depending on your business, and if you are in luck, you may find professional equipment bargains from companies that shut down.
Choosing to buy second hand instead of new, you help reduce landfill waste and contribute to resource preservation. When purchasing furniture for your office spaces, you don’t have to put your hands deep in your pockets.
3. Reduce, reuse, recycle
These 3 R’s are the circular economy concepts in that order of significance.
To reduce means to keep waste out of the landfills, which are bad for the environment and citizens’ health. For this reason, an eco friendly practice for your company would be to avoid using disposable cups, plates, and utensils instead of glasses and cups that are washable and reusable.
You should reuse items instead of throwing them away whenever possible. A good idea to reuse your office supplies is to use your used printer paper as scrap paper for note taking. So, instead of using your notepad to take notes, you can use your presentation from last week that you would otherwise throw away.
When reducing or reusing is not possible, recycling is last in the hierarchy. It’s better than nothing, but recycling should come last as not everything can be recycled, and it also requires energy to do it. You should install recycling bins for commonly used materials like glass, plastic, paper, and batteries in your office.
An excellent indicator to see if you are managing well your business waste is to leave empty trash cans at the end of each day.
4. Use sustainable packaging
If you are in the business of selling and shipping products to your customers, packaging must be an essential part of your operations. From wrapping paper to shipping boxes, packaging material adds up fast.
72% of respondents said they prefer buying environmentally friendly products in a survey. At the same time, 77% agreed that plastic packaging is the least environmentally friendly material, and 55% considered that paper is the most environmentally friendly.
To become an eco friendly business, you should prioritize changing your packaging material to more environmentally friendly ones like paper or recycled paper. Alternative sustainable packaging options are also the biodegradable ones that leave no trace of waste at the end of their lifecycle.
5. Make energy efficient upgrades
Who said that caring for the environment does not have its benefits for eco friendly businesses? Switching to newer energy efficient technologies for various items and appliances in your office can save you a lot from your energy bills.
For example, investing in energy efficient windows to better insulate your spaces or buying a new and energy efficient space heater can make heating your workplace faster at a significantly lower cost.
Another good idea to save energy and reduce waste is to buy energy efficient led light bulbs that last longer and consume less power.
Every business affects the environment at different levels. Still, overall, all businesses contribute to a certain degree to climate change, pollution, and waste.
To minimize your business’s environmental impact and cut down on your carbon footprint, there are many sustainable practices that you can follow to make a truly eco friendly business. No matter what your size is or the size of your competitors, no effort is small enough to protect the environment.
There are many ways to make a greener business by employing sustainable business practices. As an entrepreneur or as a chief sustainability officer at your company, you have to choose your own path to sustainability tailored to the needs and capacities of your business.
Building Bridges | A European Project for the Circular Economy
Building Bridges is an Erasmus+ project offering a bottom-up approach to support the Circular Economy Action Plan. The project’s main objective is to help you acquire innovation and specialized competencies by empowering them to use the Green Economy (GE) by creating new business models based on the Circular Economy principles (EC).
The subsequent goals of the Building Bridges EU project are to:
- Introduce youth to the ideas of Circular Economy and Green entrepreneurship. Moreover.
- Promote career opportunities in the circular economy and the existing green jobs.
- Teach about the benefits and challenges of CE and GE.
- Create circular business models and promote green economy business collaborations at the national, regional, and European levels.
- Disseminate the critical work of Building Bridges at a pan-European level to increase the environmental and social impact of the circular economy.
- Strengthen networking between partner organizations, youth, and other stakeholders.
The circular economy is the latest development in our ambition to transition our economies to a more sustainable and resilient system decoupling our economic activities from the consumption of finite resources.
With the new Circular Economy Action plan in place, educating the new generation of Europeans is essential to achieve long-term sustainable growth. They will be called upon to use these principles in their ventures as entrepreneurs or as tools in their future green jobs.