Did you know that only 9% of the plastic thrown away is recycled? And, that if we committed to recycling the rest, it would be possible to save 44 million yards of landfill and 1 billion gallons of oil every year?
These numbers represent the negative impact both individuals and businesses have on the environment that comes from the lack of awareness and the thought process that goes like this – “I’m too small to make a difference”.
We’re here to tell you that you aren’t. It’s quite the opposite; smaller companies are found to be “at the forefront of saving the environment” as they don’t employ hundreds of employees and don’t rent massive spaces for operation.
Hooray, because you’re in luck. With a few tweaks in operations, you’ll be able to become more environmentally friendly in no time without having to make big sacrifices. The upcoming Earth Day is here to give you that little push to get you started on your going green journey.
So, how can you contribute to a cleaner planet on April 22nd and beyond?
#1. Install recycling bins
As a business in the retail industry, you’re likely to accumulate a lot of waste. Whether it’s the old hangers lying around with no use or cardboard boxes left from returned items, you can make good use of them. The solution: to equip your offices and stores with centralized waste utilization stations.
We’re talking about separate bins for recycling plastic, paper, metal, and glass. Installing them ensures collection trucks pick up the right type of trash and helps them avoid having to drive long distances to the landfill which, in turn, conserves natural resources.
A composting bin in the kitchen is a nice bonus too.
Once you let your staff know where they can toss their trash, they’ll be more inclined to think about the amount of waste they’re creating and minimize it whenever possible. Etsy set a great example – the company eliminated individual trash bins which reduced waste by 18% and upped its recycling and composting rates by 20% and 300% respectively.
#2. Invest in energy-efficient appliances
Natural gas and coal are known to be some of the biggest environmental pollutants. The CO2 they release contributes to the greenhouse effect which, in turn, makes global warming a real threat. Here’s where you can make a change by investing in office and store appliances powered by eco-friendly alternatives like solar, wind, and hydro energy.
Start small – make sure to change high-wattage incandescent and halogen lightbulbs to their CFL and LED counterparts. Then you can move on to encourage employees to use the power-saving mode on their computers and perhaps spending a little more on eco-friendly air conditioners.
#3. Ditch paper and go digital
Let’s face it – printing documents and using print advertisements isn’t only time-consuming but also outdated. With the internet becoming more and more mainstream, consumers would rather check their Google mail and social media feed instead of browsing through countless newspapers they get in the mail.
Hence, it’s your job to catch up with the new normal that just so happens to be beneficial for the environment.
For starters, switch to e-signatures. They are quick and convenient to use and don’t require expensive printers along with a countless amount of wasteful paper and paper files. The same goes for receipts printing: ask customers if they need any and if they don’t, you’re able to hold onto your rolls of receipt paper for longer.
#4. Encourage part-time WFH
Lengthy commutes aren’t exciting in general, but when it comes to saving the environment, they’re that much less desirable. And even though using electric scooters or biking to work is a great alternative to driving a car or using public transport, telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular among industries where on-site work isn’t a must.
To not make any rash decisions, allow a couple of workers from different teams to work from home, say, on Fridays. This will give you a good idea about whether you can implement the WFH policy without hurting the company’s revenue and if findings of remote workers being more productive than office dwellers are accurate.
#5. Donate to a local environmental NGO
Donations on behalf of your organization are widely welcomed no matter the receiving organization. Consider the value you can add when supporting causes like environmental preservation.
Established to combat a variety of climate change-caused issues like the increase of endangered species, the pollution affecting marine life, and deforestation among others, environmental NGOs are there to be humanitarian without expecting much in return.
For this reason, choosing a local charity that aligns with your company’s beliefs and making a donation on Earth Day is a sure way to set an example for the retail giants and motivate employees to do the same.
#6. Organize a clean-up with staff members
Last but not least, consider making a direct impact on the environment by hosting a clean-up event in your local neighborhood. Besides recruiting your employees and, perhaps, inviting customers via a timely social media post, you can partner up with fellow small businesses for even better exposure.
This way, you’ll be able to build a tighter bond with your employees, get to know the local community, and help your surroundings stay clean. It’s a win-win situation.
As you can tell, the size of your business doesn’t necessarily correlate with the size of the impact you can have on the environment. If anything, the smaller the company is, the fewer limitations it has to put in action policies that would otherwise have to go through a big hierarchy of approvals.
Use this opportunity to raise awareness about the current state of the environment and get your employees and customers on board too. Together you’ll be able to create the domino effect that will set off an even bigger movement to help reverse climate change.