Running a small business can be challenging. In our piece Lessons I Earned Opening gngr bees, we mentioned that a whopping 660,000 new businesses are registered in the UK every year. This initially poses the question of how to stand out from the crowd.

Yet running a business involves more than just ensuring that it’s unique. A third of UK shoppers demand and pay more to sustainable brands. It’s crucial that you meet these demands, too. If sustainability is one of your passions, channelling this passion through your business — and ultimately empowering sustainability initiatives — will help you fulfill another lesson we learned by opening gngr bees: being true to what you believe in.

But how exactly does one go about running a sustainable business in the first place? Below, we’ve listed a few handy tips to help you get started.

Switch to renewable energy

Start with simple things, like replacing traditional light bulbs with more sustainable and efficient LED alternatives. Switching to sustainable energy suppliers can also help if you’re unable to generate your own energy through wind or solar. Carbon Brief adds that renewable energy sources are 30-50% cheaper than traditional fossil fuels, so you’ll be cutting costs while championing sustainability as well. You can even go further by working to reduce your company’s energy consumption. For example, you can use laptops instead of desktop computers or use motion sensors that turn off lighting and heating if no movement is detected.

Cut down waste

In England alone, SMEs produce 64.4% of commercial and industrial waste. You can significantly reduce waste by digitalising your operations. Aside from making all your documents paperless, digitalisation can extend to networking, as well. Digital business card provider Doorway reports that over 6 million trees are cut down annually just to produce business cards, but 88% end up being thrown away — so this is one area where you can really make a difference. While you’re at it, consider purchasing future-proof tech. This will prevent your business from contributing to the world’s growing amount of electronic waste, which has the potential to release toxic substances into the environment.

Use sustainable packaging

If you offer an array of products, using sustainable packaging will be — no pun intended — part and parcel of running your business. Construct boxes and bags out of kraft paper, switch out bubble wrap for biodegradable peanuts and mushroom packaging, and spruce up your packages with patterned glassine paper. Also consider using materials like corrugated packaging, which can be recycled up to 10 times. This will do more than just establish your business’ sustainable branding. Resource site reports that more than two-thirds of consumers want their products packaged in materials that have been recycled previously.

Support a cause

Donating a portion of your profits to a deserving organisation will help your business become part of something bigger. It may even encourage your customers to help out by purchasing your products or services, as well. Some notable organisations you may want to consider include Surfers Against Sewage — which works to clean the UK’s beaches — as well as The Woodland Trust, the country’s largest forest reservation and maintenance group. You might also be interested in international organisations like lawyer group ClientEarth and the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, which empowers women to lead the fight against climate change.

Running a small business isn’t easy, and running a sustainable one is even more difficult. However these four simple tips show how tackling this particular challenge can be made easier, so you can — through your business — continue fighting the good fight.

June 30, 2022

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