Environmental issues are big business these days, as companies all over the world accept their part in reducing carbon emissions and minimising the impact which their business operations have upon the environment around them.
Wherever you look, it seems that there are sites popping up offering advice and guidance about how to conduct business ethically, making the shift from being a small business owner to a mini pioneer of green issues and environmental awareness.
It may seem to you that the small business owner has little to offer when it comes to being green, but this is actually far from being the case.
We all know that each of us have an individual impact upon the world we live in, in terms of being ‘green’, but in today’s ethical trading environment we actually hold much more sway than we realise.
When we work in large organisations, it seems that there are already a number of practices in place which pay lip service to green behaviours, even though it can be frustrating to see how much more these powerful corporations and companies can do to make a real difference.
Paper shredding and recycling, IT and software safe disposal, rubbish sorting and some commitment to saving power are all standard practices adopted by large corporations to reduce the overall impact which trade has upon the environment, and save costs at the same time.
However, as a small business owner we may feel that we have neither the capacity nor the resource to adopt similar measures, on a small or domestic scale.
Why bother being green?
If you have ever filled out a business bid, tender or proposal for the public sector, you’ll soon realise just how much store is set on green business practices and operation by the organisations that you are bidding to.
Local councils and other established firms have a huge responsibility to secure the services of ethical partners and preferred service providers who can actively demonstrate that they are fully compliant with the latest legislation on environmental best practice.
More and more, becoming an environmentally-conscious organisation (even as a small business owner or sole trader) is something which is required by law rather than simply a ‘nice to have’. Whether you are looking to expand your enterprise in the future or stay as you are, there are a number of benefits to be had from laying the foundation for sound environmental practices now.
Being aware of green issues and how they will affect your business is critical for people looking to establish sound practices when dealing with other companies, both within the public sector and beyond. 2010 has been a big year for government legislation relating to the environment for businesses, and staying ahead of requirements is not just advisable, but can prevent you and your business being penalised for non-compliance.
Because of this, being ‘green’ is now mandatory rather than simply preferable as a strategy, moving forward.
What are the benefits of green business practices?
Staying ahead of green issues as a small business owner is not only advisable when it comes to attracting customers, but also a good way of saving money for yourself and your business. While it may seem daunting to recycle, buy ethically-sourced products or operate to a stringent set of environmental standards, in fact it can support you to cut costs and reduce waste in the long run.
Power-saving devices which cut off unused gadgets and machinery, sourcing from fellow environmentally-aware businesses and operating according to ethical principles will actually save your business money in the long run.
In addition, the investment which you make now can support you to generate future work, sales and customers as those clients whom you work with on a regular basis can feel confident that they are sourcing from a reliable and ethical provider.
How can blogging save the planet?
As one of the most environmentally-friendly marketing vehicles we have, blogging is a superb way of communicating with the minimal carbon footprint. Online rather than paper-based, and accessible enough that readers don’t need to print, a blog provides a wealth of information without impacting the environment in any way.
Great blogs present content in bite-sized chunks, making it easy for readers to access it without printing, and RSS feeds provide an ideal way of keeping customers informed without resorting to paper-based marketing avenues.
Put simply, a blog is a no-impact way of marketing and communicating to people without the need for expensive resources which negatively impact the environment.
What else can we do?
As bloggers, we don’t just have to stop at using our blogs for communication in order to benefit the environment. We can also keep up to date with the latest legislation, and make sure that we follow the guidelines for ethical working practices within our business.
Recycling resources including IT hardware and printer cartridges, sourcing services from organisations who have a firm stance on environmental legislation and operate accordingly, and vetting potential suppliers for ethical working practices all support us to be green business owners.
Businesses looking to cement their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint can gain an independent evaluation from an environmental assessor to identify new ways of cutting costs and enhancing our green best practice.
A number of organisations will offer the initial assessment for free.
Following that, it is a relatively simple process to gain ISO accreditation for environmental best practice. Having an ISO certificate demonstrates clearly to those people who secure your services that you are an ethical trader, and supports you in making bids for business within both the public and private sectors. ISO 14001 is an internationally-accepted standard that sets out how you can go about putting in place an effective Environmental Management System (EMS).
An effective EMS supports you to stay ahead of government guidelines for being green, and will ultimately help you to reduce costs, cut carbon emissions and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to saving the planet, one blog post at a time.
What would you add?
What are you doing to make your business green?