Three ways small businesses can go green for real impact

carbon neutral

In this uncertain business environment, many small-business owners may be finding it difficult to prioritise their sustainability and environmental strategies. That’s not from lack of trying, 76 per cent of small businesses believe that sustainability is critical for success in their industry.

As the backbone of the Australian economy, small businesses have an important role to play in the climate crisis. Even with limited budgets, resources and supply chain constraints, there are many meaningful steps that small-business owners can take to reduce their carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.

Here are some top tips for becoming more sustainable in 2022.

Understand your environmental footprint

Before jumping straight in, finding out the actual impact of your business is the crucial first step. Without being able to measure the initial impact, how can you be sure your efforts are making a difference?

Tracking your yearly travel, water and energy consumption is a necessary part of measuring your carbon impact. Once you have these metrics, you can utilise online resources to help track your impact across the year.

It’s also critical to look at all parts of your supply chain and identify areas where you can implement change, from product sourcing to energy consumption to shipping providers. There are handy tools like EcoCart that work as a plugin to analyse the carbon (C02) footprint of a product from manufacturing to shipping, to give you a clear indication of the overall impact of your business.

Leverage supplier partnerships at your disposal

Working with certified eco-friendly partners is often the best and simplest way to kickstart your sustainability journey.

Working with partners is key to making parts of your business sustainable as well as through the entire supply chain. For example, when it comes to packaging, working with partners like Better Packaging Co to use sustainable satchels and wrapping is a great way to minimise your plastic use.

Using a carbon-neutral parcel delivery service provider for shipping your products is another way to reduce your impact. Australian seasoning small business, Rub-a-dub, is a great example. They use Sendle to ship their native and locally produced ingredients to customers around Australia, while taking care of the planet.

In addition to taking energy-efficient actions such as water minimisation and purchasing green power, small businesses can use carbon offsets to offset remaining emissions. Companies like South Pole offer decarbonisation pathways and carbon credits by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gases.

Look at third-party accountability and transparency

Becoming sustainable is a long-term commitment that requires constant evaluation and investment to ensure efforts are translating into positive impact. Joining the B Corp movement can help small businesses to build accountability and transparency over the long term with their customers, partners and the community.

To achieve B Corp certification, a business must demonstrate the highest social and environmental performance and receive a  B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above. They must also make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders (including the planet) and exhibit transparency by making information available on B Lab’s website.

While achieving certification is a rigorous process, the benefits for the environment and the business are well worth the effort. There are now 227 Australian and New Zealand B Corps, employing more than 4,000 people and turning over $1 billion in revenue. Research continues to show that consumers want to support more purposeful and ethical brands and will stop buying from those that don’t meet these expectations.

Becoming sustainable may feel like an insurmountable task for many small businesses. But by taking these incremental steps, small businesses can reduce their environmental impact and drive meaningful change in their wider industry and community, to help tackle the climate crisis.