The Best Sustainability Ideas for Businesses Today

In today’s world, sustainability is a topic on everyone’s minds, and many businesses are taking note. More and more consumers are demanding more sustainable products and sustainability practices from the companies they support. Companies that implement greener ideas and practices will attract more customers while helping protect the environment and preserve it for future generations.

Benefits of Sustainability in Business

Sustainability Ideas for Businesses

Going green is a good idea for any business—big or small—and there are many reasons to implement sustainability efforts. These green initiatives provide several benefits; they:

  • Are good for the planet. Perhaps the most important benefit, and the main point of going green, is that you’ll be helping the environment. Air quality, water quality, climate, as well as plant and animal life all benefit from sustainability initiatives. Sustainability practices ensure a safer, healthier planet for the next generation.
  • Save money. Sustainability can also be good for your company’s bottom line. Many green initiatives increase efficiency and involve cutting back on expensive resources. A business can save a lot of money by reducing unnecessary waste, slashing energy costs, and other sustainability activities.
  • Attract and sustain employees. A company that’s well known for its green initiatives will be more likely to attract top talent and keep good employees around long term. Increasingly, people want to work with companies that show they care about environmental issues, and in a work environment that’s safer for their health.
  • Appeal to customers. Sustainability is also attractive to potential customers, and a company can expect more support and repeated business when it is known for its green practices. These initiatives can also attract investors and quality business partnerships, as well.

Sustainability Ideas for Your Business

Whatever size and type of business you run, there are many ways to go green at work and reap the benefits of sustainable practices in your company. Here are some of our favorite sustainability activities for companies of all types to implement:

Save on Energy Usage

Start with a professional energy audit to find ways you can cut back on energy usage. You’ll find out just how much energy your business uses regularly, and get tips on how you can improve. Some easy ways to lessen your energy use include installing weather stripping around doors and windows, changing out lightbulbs to LED bulbs, and using smart power strips for computers and other electronics. Turn off lights and electronics in rooms not in use or install automatic lighting systems.

On the production line, upgrade or repair any old machinery and equipment to increase energy efficiency. Evaluate the process flow to see if there are more efficient options. Use training and quality checks to reduce waste in production. Use Energy Star-certified appliances in kitchens, breakrooms, or wherever your company uses appliances.

Switch to Reusable Items

If your company uses a lot of disposable items, find reusable alternatives to green up your routine. Look into washable options for towels, gloves, personal protective equipment, and more. You can use a laundry service for towels, uniforms, and other cloth items so that you don’t have to worry about washing them yourself. Besides, the high-efficiency machines at these services are often more eco-friendly than most smaller washing machines used in homes and small businesses.

Stock the office breakrooms with ceramic dishes and coffee cups instead of paper, Styrofoam, plastic disposables, or encourage employees to bring their own reusable cups and dishware.

Green Your Cleaning Routine

All businesses need to be cleaned regularly, and cleaning products aren’t always eco-friendly. Make the switch to a company that uses green cleaning products, or if you do the cleaning in-house, provide more natural cleaning supplies and washable mops and towels.

Provide Convenient Recycling Bins

Recycling Bins

Be sure to offer marked recycling bins next to every trash bin, sorted for your local pickup standards. Include smaller recycling containers for every desk or work station to make recycling easy.

If your area offers compost pickup, or your property allows composting, you can take this a step further and offer compost bins for food waste in breakrooms. This green step dramatically reduces the amount of garbage generated in lunchrooms.

Consider Adding Plants

Plants inside your office space, lobby, or retail area can help provide better indoor air quality and a serene environment that customers and employees will find more soothing. If your business has an outdoor area, consider eco-friendly landscaping options such as adding trees if space allows, using native plants to reduce watering, and using landscaping options that reduce or eliminate the need for mowing. Consider creating habitats for native birds, bees, and other pollinators with your landscaping.

Offer Sustainable Goods and Services

Depending on the type of business you run, this idea may or may not apply, and will depend on just what you offer consumers. Look at the services and products you provide for your customers and see if there are more eco-friendly options. For example, a cleaning company can switch to natural cleaning products and use reusable cloth instead of disposable paper towels. A clothing company could source fabrics from more sustainable resources like organic cotton and bamboo, or promote upcycling used clothing and fabric.

Update Your Packaging

For many types of businesses, packaging can be an issue. Whether it’s shipping boxes, shopping bags, or takeout containers, your customers will appreciate eco-friendly packaging options. Try to reduce plastic and Styrofoam use as much as possible, and package your goods in recyclable or compostable materials.

Read more about cannabis packaging and sustainability here.

Sustainable Cannabis Packaging Solutions
(Courtesy of Leafly)

Reduce Your Paper Usage

Find ways that your business can cut down on excess paper use. Consider providing e-receipts or digital invoices and packing slips. Encourage your team to use e-mail and reduce unnecessary printouts. Utilize double-sided printing when possible, and encourage the use of re-used scrap paper around the office. Use marker boards instead of giant notepads in meetings.

Upcycle Unwanted Equipment and Furniture

When you’re updating the office furniture, computers, or other fixtures, appliances, equipment, and more, don’t just throw away the old ones. Set up an upcycle station and allow your employees to take home what they want. Donate the rest to local charities that could use the equipment or furniture.

Encourage Employees with Go Green Activity Ideas

Recyle and Reuse Coffee Cups

The more your employees do on their own, the more significant the overall environmental impact. Encourage your team members to bring their own coffee mugs and water bottles—or provide company-branded reusables as incentives.

Organize carpooling options, walk/bike to work days, and encourage the use of public transportation and teleconferencing. Promote Meatless Mondays in breakrooms, and offer vegan options in cafeterias.

Work With Green Suppliers and Vendors

Green up the whole supply and logistics chains by communicating with your suppliers, delivery companies, or any other businesses you partner with. Find out if there are higher quality raw materials or more eco-friendly options for you to use. Look for greener delivery options and request more eco-friendly packaging from your suppliers. Request reusable pallets and have a system in place for storing and returning them.

Invest in Carbon Offsets

You can reduce your company’s overall environmental footprint by investing in a carbon offsets program. These programs give money to projects worldwide that reduce greenhouse gases, invest in green energy, and more. It’s an easy way to make a positive impact on the planet.

Involve Your Community

Get your whole neighborhood involved, and gain a little positive PR in the process too. Celebrate environmental holidays and events and support other eco-centric local events. Host neighborhood cleanups, donation drives, or tree plantings, and offer incentives for your employees to volunteer at other events.

How to Make Your Sustainability Ideas Even More Effective

Sustainability Ideas for Businesses - Save the Planet

There are a wide variety of sustainability ideas out there for any business—these are just a few of the things you can try. It’s important to remember that even tiny improvements can make a difference for the planet, and you can make more changes over time. Some of these ideas require a little upfront investment, but many of them lead to savings later.

Choose a few sustainability ideas that work well for your business to start with, and make a sustainability plan. Get your whole team involved with the initiative and create excitement with incentives. Provide training for employees on your new processes and changes. Create teams, events, and contests for some friendly competition to see which department can make the biggest environmental impact or the most creative solutions for the company.

Also, don’t be afraid to publicize your new green efforts! Use social media and email marketing to promote your sustainability initiatives and get coverage in local media outlets, too. This ensures better accountability, as well as some easy exposure for your company. Potential employees, as well as clients and customers, will take note of your efforts. By making the message an on-going theme and consistently showing up, you’ll have a better chance of gaining a bigger (and more dedicated) audience.