How do you make your business sustainable?
Sustainable is a word that is thrown around a lot these days, from business to branding its for sure the buzz word of the year. Business of all types can contribute negatively to the environment and the social development, especially after so many years of waste, chemical disposal and human rights having not been at the top of everyones minds. With the power of social media and engagement of consumer to brand, people are becoming more educated and more conscious about what they are buying and how they can do better. While there are many brands in this day and age who recognize the issues (see the entire business of Patagonia) and work their best to make sure they are doing what they can there are lots who know that it’s important to seem like they are doing something without actually spending the time, energy, money or resources on it (this is know as Green Washing). No one is perfect but doing what you can will help everyone in the long run.
Waste – wasting anything is never sustainable but also what you are putting into waste is important. If you are using an item in your day to day that isn't reusable that maybe could be? Do you have unnecessary items in your packaging (how many hang tags do you have? What is your shipping packaging like?) Knowing what items you don’t need and what ones you can change to recycled options is a great start. Recycled kraft boxes or recycled poly envelopes are an amazing option into the awful waste of shipping materials (Ecoenclose is an amazing place and you can make it all branded!)
Materials – Is there an item in your product that could be switched out for something more sustainable? Palm oil, plastics, dyes can all negatively contribute to the environment. Making sure you are sourcing responsibly is key, look for certifications like Bluesign or NGO eco-certification can help to make sure you are making the right choice
Process -Are there other hands touching any of the items you carry? Do you know where they came from and who made them, are the working conditions acceptable? Is the pay appropriate? How is the treatment of anyone involved. Ask questions and if you are not sure, then it might be time to look into other options. Human rights should always be investigated.
Company practises – How are your day to day processes? Do you use reusable coffee mugs, recycled paper (interior documents can be double used), LED light bulbs? Water filter instead of plastic bottles? Making sure your interior matches your outside brand is key. The things people don’t see matter just as much as the things they do see.
There are so many steps, certifications and, processes to go through but it is not only worth it, but important. Putting not only the best business you can into the world but making sure that you are creating something that will contribute rather than harm. No one will be perfect, but doing the best you can is always the best way to lead.