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How to improve environmental sustainability in your business

How to improve environmental sustainability in your business

Most small business owners understand why you need to be environmentally conscious and reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re in hospitality or retail, you’d be aware of Replace the Waste and the phasing out of many single use plastic products in South Australia.

But ‘going green’ is not just a good thing to do for the environment, but a smart business decision offering significant commercial advantages to your operations – from profits, growth, innovation and enhanced brand reputation.

What does it mean to be a sustainable business?

Small business sustainability means doing business without negatively impacting the environment. It enables you to make choices and take steps to replace, protect or conserve our natural resources.

The shift towards business sustainability demonstrates the significant transformation in consumer culture and business operations, driven by an urgent need to address climate change and transforming the economy to net zero emissions.

With consumers increasingly seeking ethical brands and choosing environmentally friendly products, packaging and services, businesses are being prompted to view sustainability not as a burden, but an opportunity for innovation, differentiation and to gain new customers.

Government support available

If you are a small business, support is available through the South Australian Government’s Small Business Sustainability Support Program – a key initiative under South Australia’s Small Business Strategy. Delivered through 2XE, businesses state-wide can access workshops and one-hour consultations to give you the tools to adapt, grow and succeed in a net zero future. More information is available here.

Support is also available through Green Industries SA to develop infrastructure to process and create new products from waste, including funding to develop new technologies and commercialise research in SA.

Ideas to start you on your sustainability journey

Having sustainable practices in your workplace makes sense, environmentally and commercially. It’s easy to start small, implement a few changes and still make a difference.

Here are some ideas and links to resources to start you on your journey.

  1. Adopt sustainable practices or methods – These include reducing energy usage, minimising waste, using eco-friendly materials, and implementing environmentally friendly production processes.
  2. Conduct an environmental audit – This will help you benchmark where your operations currently sit, identify opportunities to reduce your impact and demonstrate accountability to customers, vendors and government.
  3. Source sustainably and support local – Identify where you source your goods and materials from. How local are your suppliers? Can you reduce your transportation costs? Are your materials manufactured by ethical suppliers who pay their employees fair and liveable wages? Do they integrate environmental performance in the production? Are they made with recyclable, renewable or biodegradable materials?
  4. Minimise waste generation – Being in South Australia, you’re likely already experienced at recycling, but are you doing enough? Are you offering point-of-sale recycling to your customers?
  5. Share sustainability ideas and solutions – Everyone wants their business to grow and flourish. Share your lessons learned with other businesses in your community or industry sector to help them manage their environmental impact.
  6. Connect with local environment groups – Get in touch with local environmental groups to boost your knowledge and build your networks, which could lead to new customers and positive recommendations.
  7. Talk to your employees – Encourage staff to share their ideas and suggestions. They may have great actions you’d like to embed into your business.
  8. Set some goals – Make real impact by setting some goals and creating action plans and strategies. Tools like Climate Clever can help you achieve your environment, social and governance goals, or seek one-on-one support through the Small Business Sustainability Support program.
  9. Celebrate your wins – Promote your achievements externally through your website, newsletters, and social media. These goals build trust and empowers customers to make informed choices and fosters loyalty.

Climate change poses financial challenges for small business, but these are risks that can be managed by being proactive.

Embracing sustainability, innovating products or services, collaborating with others and being open with your customers are simple steps that all businesses, no matter the size and type you run, to thrive financially and contribute to a more sustainable future.

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