The concept of "corporate responsibility" is one that you'll hear major companies talk about whenever they're publicizing a recent eco-friendly decision. Those decisions make interesting news because consumers today are looking for the company that gives back to the community, treats its employees well, and runs a sustainable business.
If your business is currently tackling the concept of sustainability, you're not alone. Of sustainability, the EPA says:
"Sustainability has emerged as a result of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth and consumption of our natural resources."
What's important to realize as you make sustainable changes to your business is that there isn't just one way to control pollution and waste. Here are several concepts and ideas you'll want to consider as you design a plan for your company's green-friendly and sustainable future.
Sustainable Packaging and Its Impact on Recycling
Recycling is one of the easiest and most visible ways to act sustainably and become a green business. Virtually all metropolitan areas today, as well as small towns, have facilities or garbage pick-up that includes recycling options.
However, you have options for creating products that don't require so much effort when it comes to recycling. It's essential for all businesses to understand that plastic isn't truly recyclable; plastic can only be "down-cycled" into a lesser form. Eventually, all that plastic can no longer be recycled. Extra plastic packaging is particularly wasteful.
It's important to design your company's packaging with sustainability in mind.
"You've seen the crazy packaging for some items in the grocery store that looks like a bag inside a box inside a bag. Hopefully, your packaging is already designed sustainably, but you should revisit your company's packaging on a regular basis to see if you can improve the effectiveness of your company's eco-friendly efforts."
The Benefits of Recycling in the Workplace
Corporate social responsibility begins with employees, and there are many options for creating a commitment to sustainability within the office, as well as before your employees interact with the public.
Your efforts at sustainability inside the office can range from simple projects like including convenient recycling bins inside the office to making company-wide announcements that encourage the employee to adopt sustainable habits at work and at home.
Don't assume that implementing recycling programs is too expensive if you're a small business. Consider:
"Waste is everywhere in corporate America, but it's also a problem for small companies where the owners assume recycling will just increase costs down the line. In fact, creating an environmentally-friendly workplace with a comprehensive recycling program may reduce costs."
Read more in How to Encourage Your Employees to Recycle at Work.
Creating a Long-Term Plan for Sustainability
The decisions you make regarding your business's sustainable efforts will have an impact on your bottom line, but they won't necessarily cost your business more. In fact, the positive press you'll get out of becoming a sustainable company will help your company's reputation improve over time.
Fiscally responsible budgeting is important in all areas of business, and it's a concept that can influence your decisions on corporate responsibility and sustainability.
"Usually, it's best to create a long-term plan for introducing various sustainable practices. Doing so reduces the interruption of business services and income while helping the transition to sustainability become more permanent."
Scheduling and Meetings in a Sustainable World
The first idea you might consider when implementing a program for sustainability is recycling, but your company's sustainable future is so much more than blue recycling bins full of empty aluminum cans.
Your approach to scheduling and meetings can have a significant impact on the environment, particularly when it comes to fuel and emissions. Further, encouraging telecommuting and alternative methods of transportation like bicycling can have a dramatic impact on the environment, as well as on the happiness of your employees.
If you think cold weather is a barrier to green commuting, consider this:
"If your business is located in an area where the weather sinks to frigid temperatures each winter, that's not a barrier to green-friendly commutes. In fact, did you know that Minneapolis is considered the number one city in the nation for bicycling despite having an average high temperature of just 24 degrees in January?"
Read more in 5 Ways to Become a More Sustainable Business in 2015.
Packaging Can Make Customers Feel Good About Their Purchases
Encouraging repeat buyers and consumer loyalty is an important part of business growth, but not everything a customer buys is healthy or easily identifiable as sustainable. For example, it's difficult to make people think cakes are healthy, and it's tough to connect them to a sustainable business model.
However, the packaging and bags you use with your products can bridge that gap for your customers. Imagine you own a shop that sells freshly baked cookies. Make sure your customers know that the cute little boxes with your logo on them come from sustainable manufacturing.
"Not every product is organic and healthy, but that doesn't mean the packaging can't be something that makes customers feel good about their purchase. Using fair-trade, organic, and sustainably made packaging gives consumers a mental boost when they purchase a product."
Read more in Using Packaging to Showcase Your Business.
"Buy Local" Campaigns Enhance Sustainability
There's ample evidence to show that buying locally helps keep money in towns that need it, and that small businesses are best for reinvesting money into the local community. Buying locally is also an incredible way to reduce your impact on the environment as a business and as a consumer.
Consider the carton of eggs you bought recently in the grocery store. Were they laid by hens in your county, or did they travel a great distance to the store? Buying locally laid eggs reduces the carbon emissions from the trucks required to haul those eggs across the country.
As a business, you should always seek out local suppliers. Not only will your efforts strengthen the economies of the small towns around you (or even the giant city in which your business operates), but you'll also be cutting down on the huge amount of fossil fuels used to transport goods around the country.
A "buy local" campaign is also great for your bottom line. People want to buy local, and they feel better when they know they're buying something made with materials or ingredients sourced from somewhere close.
"A recent article from CNN Money says that buy local campaigns may "supercharge" sales, which is terrific news for small businesses. CNN reports that the buy local movement drew supporters during the recession when buying locally was seen as the best way to support the economy and local communities."
Read more in Secrets of Successful Buy Local Campaigns.
Take a Step Toward Sustainability with Howard Packaging.
Market your company's brand through creative, sustainable packaging options from Howard Packaging.
If your business is interested in using modern packaging solutions, let us know! Find out what we can do for your business. Request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit Today!