With the new year upon us, and with more focus than ever on environmental issues, you might be wondering what resolutions you can make for your business going into 2020. No longer can businesses ignore the need to step up and take the lead when it comes to sustainability. If you’re looking to make some improvements, here are some ideas to get the year off to a good start.

Take responsibility for your paper waste

No matter what your business is, there’s a good chance that you create mountains of waste paper in the process. Thankfully, packaging material, cardboard boxes, and documents can all be recycled. If you have considerable amounts of cardboard packaging and boxes, you might choose to invest in a cardboard baler to compact everything down and make it easier to haul off to the recycling centre.

Another great idea is to shred old documents and upcycle them as packing material – killing two birds with one stone. Alternatively, if much of your paper waste is from the office, try putting as much of your filing as possible into cloud storage rather than printing it.

Trim down your electricity and water usage

New year is the time many of us like to go on a health kick and lose those extra pounds, but what about the unnecessary consumption on the part of your business? Take a frank and honest look at your usage and see if you can cut down on waste. Turn lights off when possible, put heaters and boilers on timers or, if you can, consider switching providers entirely – there are now several exciting green options. Replace inefficient appliances with ones that are energy saving; simply changing light bulbs can make a big difference. 

Reconsider your suppliers

Consumers are savvier than ever when it comes to ethical consumption. More and more people want to actively choose to buy from companies that reflect their own growing concern for the environment. Though you may not have thought about it before, reconsider your suppliers and look to see if there are alternatives that are cheaper, local, and more environmentally friendly.

Take a stand and refuse where possible to support other companies with business practices you don’t agree with. This may mean paying more than you’re accustomed to and foregoing cheap materials and labour. On the other hand, you’ll earn the trust of your own customers and bolster your reputation as a business owner with a conscience.

Cut the commutes

So many of us are driving to and from work each day to do tasks that could easily be accomplished from home. Giving your employees the option to work remotely may feel a bit extreme for some businesses, but keep in mind that you’ll likely improve overall productivity and morale, as well as reduce congestion and petrol use, and maybe even reduce what you need to pay for office space.

If your workers need to be on site, think about offering incentives for using public transport – everyone saves, and the environment will thank you too – or else put together a cycle to work scheme. That way, your employees avoid much of the traffic while improving their health. It’s a win-win.

Create an eco-conscious work culture

Even if your business is on the small side, the fact is that as a business owner, you’re in a leadership position and have the privilege of shaping your work environment for the better. As we move into 2020, many people are feeling the need for businesses that are not just more ethical on paper but are truly at the vanguard of business practices that are good for the entire planet.

Think about what you can do with the resources you have. Could you rally together a charity outreach or offer an apprenticeship? Could you switch to primarily meatless, locally grown meals in your café or use glass cups instead of disposable plastic ones? Thinking even further, can you upgrade your HR hiring policies or take a stand on local issues that directly affect your community? The choice is yours.

In today’s political climate, and with the ever-encroaching realities of climate change, we’re all called on to make a change. As a business owner, you can rise to the challenge. While consumers are more educated and discerning, you may discover that going greener is not just an option, is a necessity – but one that will only serve to make your business more relevant, more responsible and more profitable this year.