We’ve all heard about “going green” and the corporate sustainability plans that many larger organizations are undertaking. However, one of the biggest misconceptions around this topic is that sustainable business strategies are exclusive to larger organizations. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In fact, within our professional consulting with smaller businesses, we guide clients to use the best practices of larger organizations to sustainable business strategies they can use in their business that deliver bottom line and environmental results.
As an example, HP is known as a consumer and vendor of paper. Internally, HP executed six guiding principles including efficient use of raw materials, sustainable forestry practices, responsible and low-carbon production, and waste minimization. The results? HP diverted 91.3 percent of its waste in 2008 and the company’s non-hazardous waste reduction program helped the company avoid sending 83,866 tons of waste to landfill, which was primarily paper waste. Technology Business Research says this strategy saved the company nearly $7.7 million from reusing items and avoiding landfill costs, and generated $2 million in revenue by selling material to recyclers.
How can a small business implement similar sustainability concepts in the business and generate similar results of cost savings, environmental impact reduction, and increased efficiency?
One approach taken in our business sustainability programs is to identify all the activities in a business that utilizes paper. The obvious comes to mind like printers, copiers, mail, and collateral. Areas to explore include:
• How much paper do you use for events, trade shows, invoicing, literature, packaging, shipping materials?
• What about the kitchen areas and bathrooms? Remember, it’s not just paper but paper products.
• Consult with people in other departments and get a clear picture of the paper they are using, where it is coming from, when they are using it, and how they are using it.
• You might want to talk to your purchasing department and learn more about how much you are spending on your paper products.
As a next step, take eco action and employ the sustainability concept of the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.
• Reduce your paper consumption by working with your purchasing department to reduce the amount of paper purchased and switch to buying recycled paper (100% post consumable is best).
• Reuse paper by placing bins next to the copiers and printers for easy reuse of single sided scraped paper.
• Recycle paper that has been used.
Simultaneous with these efforts, we suggest the use of online document management systems for your documents. Content management systems give you more than the environmental benefits of going paperless. They offer the ability to manage different types of data: emails, contracts, logos, reports, forms, drawings, web pages, and blogs which contributes to improved efficiency, further cost reductions, and environmental gains.
Sustainable business strategies used by larger organizations are examples of best practices that can be utilized in small business to generate cost savings, reduced environmental impacts, and brand differentiation by going green.
Filed under: Blog | Tagged: Brands, Communication, Environmental Impacts, Small Business, Sustainability | 1 Comment »