Ways to make your business more sustainable

Aneta Pałczyńska
27 August 2021
6 min read

We are currently facing one of humanity's biggest challenges - a climate crisis. It is real, and how seriously it develops is something that continues to concern us. We also wonder what we might do to minimize the effects of this crisis.

Yet what we often hear is that individual action is ineffectual; that any single contribution a person makes is ultimately insignificant and futile. As a result, people are discouraged and decide instead to wait it out, hoping some heroes will save us as they did on the screens in our childhood memories.

But at Startup Development House we're not discouraged. Rather, we feel empowered and hopeful, believing in change and striving to be part of it. This is why we adopted our own principles and practices to make us more sustainable, ones we continue to refine for ensuring we remain among those businesses dedicated to realizing this change.

Read on to find out what steps you can take to help you make your business more sustainable.

What is a sustainable business?

A sustainable business is one that recognizes sustainability as a core objective and focuses on minimizing its negative short and long-term impacts on the environment, society and economy.

Sustainable business recognizes that it can only thrive on a healthy planet and in a healthy community. In some ways, large enterprises can have a much bigger impact than small startups (such as reducing their carbon footprint) and those that rank the highest in the world are listed in The Global 100 report by a Corporate Knights company.

Set goals

Since you're reading this article, it's likely you've already decided it’s high time to explore more eco-friendly, sustainable business solutions for your company. Time to start thinking about, imagining and redeveloping the core of your business.

To set clear goals, you must first understand where your business is at. Your business strategy and environmentally-friendly goals should be inextricably connected, each working for the sake of the other. One’s weakness should be the other’s strength, with every possible risk as an opportunity for long term success that is in line with the strategies and goals that reflect your organization's core beliefs.

But be realistic of what’s achievable and ensure your initial focus is on where you can have the greatest impact, and which goals are most easily accomplished.

Be sure also to document your progress and be transparent about it with your employees. Encourage feedback and new ideas - the collective mind can be a veritable force!

Measure and reduce your carbon footprint

As an IT company, we love working with data, basing our decisions on data and measuring our performance with data. All sustainable practices and goals should therefore be trackable and measurable within set principles, be it energy consumption, carbon emissions or otherwise.

We can do this by using software or sustainability consultants to monitor and re-evaluate our strategies toward achieving each goal. Abstract objectives on paper are meaningless unless they genuinely make a difference.

So it's crucial that you analyze and measure your carbon footprint, and there are a variety of apps to choose from.  One such app is from one of Startup Development House's own clients, Chooose, which has a calculator for this very purpose. They offer some ideal options, should you wish to further reduce your carbon emissions.    

Baby steps toward a more sustainable business

Now that you have set your values, what actions should you take? How do you maintain faith in your mission whilst implementing consistent, enduring changes? Start with 'baby steps'. Through 'baby steps' you'll find it much easier to form and incorporate new habits and in a well-balanced way.

Reuse and recycle

If your company wants to go green, it should first reduce its impact on the environment. So consider first how you can introduce the 5 Rs into your company:

  • Refuse

  • Reduce

  • Reuse

  • Repair

  • Recycle

Start with your office

The integration of the 5 Rs into your company's daily routine will not only help the environment, build your reputation as a sustainable business, but make you more energy-efficient and cost-efficient!

Here are some examples to inspire and guide you toward ways of being more carbon neutral:

  • Go paperless by minimizing in-house printing

  • Ensure recycling bins are clearly labelled

  • Use recycled products such as envelopes or ink carriages

  • Switch standard light bulbs to energy-efficient, longer-lasting LED options

  • Use non-chemical cleaning products or query them with your cleaning contractor

  • Choose an energy provider with the most eco-friendly, renewable energy on the grid

  • Provide your employees with laptops instead of desktop computers (they consume half the power)

  • Switch to cloud solutions instead of dedicated ones

  • Choose online meetings and workshops over in-house

  • Use servers that are in more green carbon intensity areas 

  • Always try to repair before considering buying new

  • Protect your materials: phone cases, adapted computer bags

  • Encourage your employees to travel by carbon-neutral means as often as possible (e.g. bike, scooter)

  • Change your contractors, vendors, products and services to more environmentally conscious ones

  • Buy energy-efficient electronics; set them to eco mode

 These are just a few of many initial steps to make your business more sustainable, to be more environmentally friendly, some of which you may have integrated already.

Whatever the case, continuous practice will ensure all employees contribute to making a positive impact on the environment, your business and individual lives.

Be bold and transparent

As transparency is key to your employees, clients and partners, be sure you remain up-to-date with all current results and statistics, and that the development of your actions is endorsed by official reports. 

This will enhance your credibility internally and externally and give access to feedback for determining which of your ideas have been most effective thus far.

Involve your employees

Invest in your workers by educating them on the importance of ecological sustainability. Share what is a positive message among them. That the actions of each individual matter, even if they have a limited impact.

Begin with simple, clearly-defined messages: recycling practices, eco-friendly behaviour, sustainable alternatives and the dangers of climate change. This knowledge will give them the power and motivation to take action one step ahead.

Building an organizational culture where ecological matters are discussed is an ideal way to sustain ecological dedication and practice.

Give back to the local community

But let's not just stop with a company's internal structures. There are lots more you can do for your community. 

You might consider volunteering, helping out local businesses, endorsing local foundations and charities both by labour and finances. 

Perhaps your knowledge and insights are now sufficient for sharing on webinar platforms. There will be plenty of opportunities to discover in your local environs.

Final thoughts

In the long run, becoming a more sustainable business will often seem a great endeavour requiring many difficult decisions. You will need to re-imagine not just your own organization but indeed the field you work in.

However, once prepared, the transformation you have initiated will grow organically, one small change at a time. It is through such forward-thinking that you will shape your industry and thus establish the basis for more long-term success.

Moreover, it will ensure your brand remains competitive in the market and that your positive message continues to inspire others to think first about the planet, people and our collective future. 

If you'd like to learn more about 'greening' your business and how we do it at SDH, feel free to contact us at hello@start-up.house

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