Sustainability in a small business


Ask yourself if you can you walk or cycle to work

The majority of large organisations are going out of their way to show their keener, greener side. And so they should. Not only is sustainability is a huge buzz word in business but it is necessary in today’s society that everyone plays their part. 
As a small business it may seem like the playing field is tilted in the favour of large corporates to both do their bit and to have impressive projects to shout about.   But, there is no reason that small – and very small – businesses can’t increase their socially responsible side. 

Here are our 6 top tips for ensuring that your
small business makes a significant contribution.

1. Be Green 

Environmentally friendly living is made pretty easy for everyone these days with recycling points for everything from shoes to printer cartridges. Try to think outside the box with what you recycle. For example, what do you do with your old IT equipment?  You can now send this off to any number of charities who’ll refurbish it and pass it on to a community in need.
In micro-businesses especially, the lives of the business owners are quite interchangeable with home-life; especially for those with home offices. Make sure your home life is as green as your business policies aim to be. The little changes can help a lot, for example, aim for recycled paper where possible and use eco-friendly cleaning products

2. Think Local 

If you do work from an office close to home, ask yourself if you can you walk or cycle to work. Even if it’s only for a few days of the week when you aren’t carting boxes of paperwork about, it all adds up. Buying from local shops for your office supplies may add a little to your monthly expenditure but it could make a real impact on your carbon footprint – not to mention supporting your local community and, therefore, local jobs. 

3. Ask Questions

Don’t Be Afraid to ask the people you buy from, large or small – ask the people who you buy your sandwiches from or whoever supplies your meeting buffets if they buy local or buy British. If they don’t but enough people ask them then maybe they’ll start. 

4. Waste Not Want Not

Most small & micro businesses are very cost aware and owners have a good grasp of expenditure so this should be an easy one to work with. Make sure that stock isn’t ordered and then left to go out of date whether that’s consumable goods or branded materials. If you are heading for a re-brand make sure you plan it around your stock levels. If necessary, have a promotion or give away to make sure the last of your stock goes rather than having to take it to the skip. 
If you do have items which it’s unavoidable to get rid, whether it’s a one off stock level or regular waste from productions,  see if they can go to your local school or play group for crafting. And obviously if it’s food, see if your local homeless shelter or food bank can make use of them before they pass their sell by date. 

5. Volunteer 

There are a host of ways you can get you and your staff involved. Pick a charity and raise money as a team doing silly stunts, runs or something more ambitious. See if you can get staff involvement in a local project such as canal clearing or building a community garden. If you can’t afford to pay a day’s worth of staff wages toward a project, promise to stand everyone dinner and a drink in the pub if they give up a Saturday. Or, if individual staff members take it on themselves to do some fund raising, show your support by giving a hefty donation, allowing them to finish early or start late while they’re in training or to organise things and always but always let them have a day off rather than taking it as a holiday to complete their stunts. Skill Will UK enables small businesses to donate their expertise to local charities and NFP organisations which you should be able to do mostly outside working hours. 

6. Shout About It

If you’re going to all the trouble of making sure your business is fully aligned with your principles then make sure you make some noise about it. It’s not a stunt if you actually believe in the changes you are making and people appreciate knowing what you’re doing. Business has always been about the personal and it not only gives your customers the opportunity to get a glimpse of your motivations and the personalities behind your business, but it gives you the chance to show off your staff and let them see how proud you are of them. 
You’ll probably also find that if you can get some team events going, it will help you all to get to know another side of each other and bring you and your team closer. And that, is always good for business.