So you’ve decided you want to take your business green. Congratulations! This is a huge step as many businesses in 2020 are no longer seeing sustainable business activities as a luxury. It’s increasingly becoming a necessary means to run a successful organization. The commercial industry and all its businesses are one of the leading producers of waste in our society. There was an estimated 267.8 million tons of trash generated in the US in 2017. Of that, 139.6 million tons ended up in landfills. And you can imagine how much of that could’ve been avoided if some of the largest producers of the waste, a.k.a. businesses, had exercised more sustainable practices.
From long term positive impacts to the environment to cutting operational costs, the benefits are endless for your business to operate in a more environmentally responsible way.
But did you know that nowadays simply relying on recycling tactics is no longer enough?
Sustainable waste management is the golden key to improving your business’s eco-friendliness and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful for our environment.
But what exactly entails sustainable business practices? And how can you make them a part of your business’s processes, and not just a short term initiative that loses steam over time?
Below we discuss five actionable practices that you can implement in your business today for long term benefits. Some of these are easier to implement than others, but none of them are truly difficult. Especially when you weigh the positive impact that these actions can have on our environment in the long run. With the proper planning and process implementation, your business will be on track to becoming greener in no time. And the more businesses take ownership in their ability to effect change for our environment, the better off we’ll be as a society.
So without further ado, below are the five sustainable waste management tips for your business.
Perhaps the most basic and actionable step toward more sustainable business practices is to fully embrace all things paperless. Many larger companies have already opted in to this initiative as they see the long term effects, at little to no cost to them in the short term. Many banks and large institutions are leading the way, and it’s a no brainer for your business. It not only is better for the environment, but it will also greatly save you on operational costs.
This is especially the case if your business is one that involves large volumes of inbound and outbound paper mail. If so, consider adapting a paperless communication method instead, internally and with your customers and clients. Email, social media and live chat are all ways you can now communicate with your partners and customers without having to use a single piece of paper and ink to do so.
Gone are the days that you absolutely need to mail out that flyer or piece of information to your customers. Instead, send a text notification. Or an email.
If you don’t have an opt in to paperless method for your customers, then you are already behind. Some companies have switched over 100% to paperless communication. And trust us, your customers, even the less savvy ones, are noticing which ones are, and which ones are not.
If you are not standing behind eco-friendly business practices, your company’s branding and reputation can take a hit. Consider today how you can go paperless for tomorrow’s success.
Re-evaluate Office and Kitchen Supplies
We understand that every office needs supplies to function. From office supplies to kitchen and miscellaneous things that are needed around the office, the order list for your office manager can be endless. But have you considered what is actually a necessity and what is just a nice to have?
In addition to cutting out supplies that are not really necessary, consider what you can replace with reusable options. The easiest place to start is your break room or kitchen area. How about the food and drink items that your office employees can actually reuse time and time again? Utensils, plates and cups are a no brainer. Instead of purchasing one time use items, stock your cabinets with reusable options that can be washed and reused.
Or, encourage your employees to bring in items of their own. This will greatly minimize your office waste and lead you on the right path to a more sustainable office practice.
Repair, Don’t Replace
We’ve all been there before. Your printer or fax machine breaks down. You realize you’ve had it for years, and instead of repairing it, you look to replace it. The next shiny object on the market is waiting for you to purchase it. Because at the end of the day, it’s an investment on behalf of your company, right? Well, while this type of thinking is quite common in the workplace, it can have negative impacts on our environment.
The next time you consider replacing appliances or electronics within your office, try instead repairing it. This will cut down on your waste disposal, and by reusing what you already have, you’re cutting down on any unnecessary packaging and fuel by ordering brand new things and having them shipped or delivered to you.
Donate Instead of Tossing
There are many things that become waste when you run an operation such as a hotel, restaurant or grocery store. It’s tempting to just opt for cheap trash removal and toss everything that’s not needed at the end of the day. We understand this temptation, because it’s the easiest and least time consuming option.
However, consider instead donating some of these items. Once you take the time to consider what can be donated instead of tossed, you’ll realize how much you’ve been wasting.
This will not only benefit the recipient of your donations, but also can save your business money in tax incentives.
So the next time you’re renovating or moving offices, or maybe as part of a cleanout, consider donating old items to your local organizations. There is an endless list of individuals, organizations and companies out there that will benefit greatly from your hand me downs. And all the while, you’re exercising sustainable business practices in doing so.
Recycle If All Else Fails
If you are left with no choice but to toss things out, remember to recycle. It not only saves energy, but also keeps materials out of landfills which then allows for the raw materials to create new things. This practice helps to extend the usage of a single resource for as long as possible.
Ensure that your office has bins for recyclables. And that you’re putting up signs as to educate them on the proper ways of recycling.
The correct way to recycle something is not common sense information. There are exceptions and ways to do things properly that is not taught, but needs to be researched and learned. Make sure you do your research and then instill this knowledge to your employees so that they can also practice these sustainable recycling habits at home.
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