How to make your business environmentally sustainable

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It ain’t easy being green, but more and more businesses are finding that it’s good business.

Many studies find that customers prefer companies that are able to establish and demonstrate their environmentally conscious credentials.

In fact, more than half of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by environmentally conscious companies.

This preference for companies to do the right thing by the earth has driven big companies to do all they can to prove their green credentials.

Some are even ‘green-washing’ to find favour with the consumer.

Andrew Woodward, communications director at Sustainable Business Australia, told The Pulse that the desire to buy with environmentally sustainable businesses was rising.

“More and more customers are looking for businesses that are making an effort with sustainability,” he said.

“People like to be seen to be doing the right thing. When they can, they’ll gravitate toward companies that are doing the right thing.”

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He added companies want to reduce their carbon footprint not just to appeal to customers, but because it’s the right thing to do.

“Businesses at all levels are behaving more responsibly and doing the right thing, even though it may not deliver a financial result,” said Woodward.

“That’s just the business environment these days. It costs no more to behave responsibly.”

So how does a business reduce its carbon footprint?

Four areas to look at

Woodward suggested that businesses of all sizes could benefit from reviewing the following areas:

1. Travel

Woodward said businesses of all sizes should reconsider the need for travel given the increasing availability and sophistication of conferencing technology.

“Previously, the easiest thing to do was to jump on the plane and go to Sydney for a meeting. That’s not time efficient or environmentally sound – and now you can do it from your desk,” he said.

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2. Printing

The rise of paperless document storage has proved to be a game-changer for businesses, not just in the ability to not waste paper but in efficiency.

“With the technical capabilities of hardware and software these days, you don’t need to print,” said Woodward.”

“All of the paper that has been collected by organisations over the years can be digitised, which makes it searchable and eliminates storage costs.”

Searching a shoebox for that vital invoice is a lot more time-consuming than looking through a digital record.

3. Your supply chain

You may be on the path to carbon neutrality, but are your suppliers?

“Have a look outside your organisation, said Woodward. “What are the environmental policies of your suppliers? How do they stack up?

“If you really are committed to sustainability, are you comfortable buying from them?”

4. Your energy supply

With energy prices on the east coast starting to bite, it could be worth investigating more environmentally friendly sources of energy supply.

“If yours is an established business with owned property or a long-term lease, then it is very much worth your while looking at solar and battery solutions,” said Woodward.

“The net cost is probably about the same over a decade, but you will be using the sun instead of coal.”

He added that businesses in leased premises could ask the question of their landlord.

What you can do today

The path to environmental sustainability can be long, but there are things you can do immediately that will make a difference.

The simplest thing, Woodward said, was to buy carbon offsets for your business.

“Just as you can buy carbon offsets for flights, you can buy them for you, your family, your car and your business,” he said.

“For an individual, you can be ‘carbon neutral’ for about $250 a year. This goes into things that produce green energy or carbon capture.”

He said he used South Pole Carbon, a service which invests in green projects and assesses your potential contribution to them based on your business’ energy use.

From there, business owners can look to make more substantive changes, like looking into their premises and equipment, as well as their policies and procedures.

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