12 Tips on how to become a sustainable small business

12 Tips on how to become a sustainable small business

Social responsibility in a start-up

As you start your SME and go from planning to launch to the exciting day to day of running a new business it can be hard to see how to incorporate and balance your sense of safeguarding the environment and social responsibility with managing the crazy of a start-up.

Here are a few straightforward, manageable suggestions you can easily incorporate into the very earliest days of your sustainable small business and build on as you expand beyond.

  1. Learn about being a sustainable small business
  2. Make sustainability a core business value and embed it as a given that embodies the way we do things around here rather than something you should or must do to keep the boss happy.
  3. Set the culture for your business. Recruit with sustainability in mind. If it’s important to you it should be important to your team.
  4. Ensure that the bank you select doesn’t invest in exploitative corporations, corrupt governments or industries that are harmful
  5. Verify your supply chain. Take the time to ask potential suppliers about their approach to sustainability and from Day 1 take responsibility yourself to ensure your supply chain doesn’t use exploitative labour. If you want to be a sustainable small business, you need to lead by example.
  6. It’s easier to make your office sustainable if the base is already there; consider sustainability when you source your first and every location. Home office, co-working or rented office space, everything from re-cycling to energy use impacts your footprint.
  7. Compost all those coffee grounds, apple cores etc. Organic waste is not good for our landfills due to the methane it produces as it breaks down.
  8. On the topic of coffee eliminate the use of disposable cups (give everyone their own unique keep cup when they join) ditto single-use plastic such as water bottles and reusable cutlery and if you’re using coffee pods make sure they’re recyclable.
  9. Desks don’t need to be new. Buy second hand it also keeps the price down. Be wary of the dopamine hit we get from all that lovely new stationary. It’s a sustainability horror story so think before you buy that ink. Or post-its. Or the fun matching fashion stationary.
  10. Energy suppliers weren’t all created equal shop around to find who’s using sustainable energy in your region.
  11. Encourage your team to use public transport. Use it yourself. For meetings, visits and to commute. As a sustainable small business owner, you can literally walk the talk.
  12. Being a sustainable small business isn’t just about the things we buy and use it’s about people too, hiring people who believe our world matters, making sure our supply chain isn’t exploitative and taking care of our mental and emotional health.

A widespread sustainability orientation in start-ups and small business is potentially one of the best ways to speed up the overall process of sustainable restructuring of industry and commerce. Taking ecological issues into account doesn’t need to be an additional round of consideration if sustainability is built into your DNA. You don’t see keep your business legal as a burden it’s a given. Think of your sustainable small business in the same light and you’ll be on the fast track to having a business that reflects the world around you.



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