How small businesses can benefit from setting environmental targets

In a global market increasingly concerned with the size of its environmental footprint, businesses are progressively looking for ways to reduce their carbon emissions and increase their waste diversion rates. In doing so, businesses are set to reap numerous benefits beyond just the environmental. Here are a few ways small businesses can take active steps to set achievable targets and help make a difference for the future.

Start small, start early

In adopting an environmentally sustainable culture, an organisation’s nimble size can prove an asset. Small businesses can easily adopt seemingly simple yet effective practices without the constraints sometimes faced by large organisations like existing workforce attitudes. Examples include switching off the lights in unoccupied rooms, setting the office’s thermostat to moderate temperature and installing LED lighting. In embedding environmentally-conscious values and practices into your organisation’s founding culture, it will become a well-rooted habit that will continue to grow as the business does, improving both the business’ environmental impact and bottom line.

Adopt a digital framework model

The use of digital technologies, when well integrated, can prove to be a productive and resourceful strength. Take a bird’s-eye view and analyse your work processes to see where you can utilise digital tools for daily activities. In doing this, not only are you increasing the speed of your communications and transactions, but you are also reducing the number of redundant paper documents printed.  This is a simple yet effective way to reduce your business’ waste output that will actively encourage you to favour efficiency and productivity in day-to-day workplace processes.

Choose your corporate partners wisely

As a small business, you may look to partner organisations to support your operations in areas where you currently lack the in-house resources required. Aligning your business with an organisation whose environmental and social responsibility values closely align to your own can help boost branding and credibility, and provide your business with additional runway to scale into the future. Remember, it is important to do due diligence when assessing a potential partner no matter the significance of the relationship – taking into account its track record and reputation, in addition to its standards of service quality.

Reflect on your own practices

In any small business, embracing constructive criticism and revision is essential for your capacity to grow as an enterprise and gain traction in larger markets. The matter of environmentalism is no different and it is essential for businesses to look within before attempting to adopt new practices. Take the time to think through which practices will work for your business’ unique situation and steadily incorporate these into your daily operations. It is okay to admit that your business may not currently subscribe to the most environmentally-conscious alternatives, so long as you set a target and make it a mission to continue forward in the right direction. This can be as simple as asking yourself what you could do better for the environment and how it can work alongside your expansion plans.

Make it known

If your business has committed to environmental targets, make a point of announcing it publically. This can be as simple as creating a page on your business’ website, outlining your targets and intended achievement dates. Public accountability can hold your business to its word and you’ll be more inclined to strive to meet your goals.

There are a number of easy and productive approaches small businesses can take to reduce carbon emissions and create greener business operations. Whether these strategies involve internal reflection or an assessment of the surroundings, small businesses have both the capacity and ability to help make a difference.

Olivera Goodwin, Head of Sustainability, DHL Express Australia

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