Being environment-conscious is the call of the day, not only as individuals but also as groups or organisations. A business that is environmentally friendly has the inherent advantage of being sustainable and viable in the long run. Sustainability and viability are also the basic economic tenets of any business – old or new. Businesses unconscious about their impact on environment will sooner or later stop being viable and sustainable.
With countries, societies and economies also waking up and taking action to check the environmental impact of businesses, having an eco-consciousness strategy from the very start will be advantageous in the longer run.
Here are a few points entrepreneurs need to be conscious about when starting their businesses to ensure that ultimately the planet loves it too.
1. Truly believe that eco-friendly practices in business pay off in the longer run: All the right practices and decisions will stem correctly if this belief forms the very foundation of the business. Often sustainable options are more expensive, right from the choice of raw materials to packaging to transport. There are always earth-friendly alternatives and there are always other options which are much cheaper. If the entrepreneur is firm in his/her belief, the choice and hence the decisions become much easier and straightforward. For example, plastic packaging is cheaper than paper packaging and choosing plastic may save you some serious costs. However, choosing paper in this case (and telling customers that you choose it because you love the planet) gains you goodwill that will help your brand in the longer run. 2. Choose an area that deals with the very problem: Once you are firm in your belief, look to start a business that provides ecologically friendly alternatives to materials like plastic, a major planet pollutant.
A lot of people these days wish to take steps and use products that reduces their negative impact on the planet but do not really have available alternatives. Alternatives or options that help consumers live more consciously has a steadily growing demand. For example, there are new products that are an alternative to plastic bags, plastic bottles and containers; bamboo toothbrushes as against plastic ones, dry-feel, leakage-free, advanced cloth diapers and organic sanitary pads as against the massively polluting disposable ones.
The eco-products provide the same convenience as their conventional counterparts, yet ensure that the planet is not harmed.
3. Check policies. Governments these days are waking up to realise that they need to support businesses that are conscious about the environment. You may find some policies that align with your requirement and provide you with some key benefits and tax exemptions.
A lot of passionate groups/NGOs today help in spreading a word about your organisation if it is true to the cause; reach out to them and seek their support.
4. Go digital. Wherever possible, digitise your communication and record keeping to save paper and also money. Not just email, many other processes can be digitised. Simple steps like avoiding printed presentations before meetings can make an impact. Even when one has to print, ensure that you use both sides of the paper by ensuring the printers in offices are set to that default. 5. Choose office premises wisely. When you choose premises for office, go for one that is environmentally wise. Most good buildings these days have waste treatment plants, recycled water for flushing, rainwater harvesting etc. Even better if you can find premises which are certified zero-waste. 6. Encourage public transport. Get your team to use public transport. Support those who do so and allow certain flexibility around it. Many do not use public transport because the timings may not be convenient and office policies do not factor in flexibility. Allow your company to form timings and structure around the employees and not the other way around. 7. Get your customer to reuse. This thought may definitely seem anti-growth for business, but it is not. On the contrary doing so will make your customers see you as being genuine about your commitment to sustainability and earn invaluable goodwill. 8. Encourage customers to skip paper. We often send out scores of flyers and brochures along with the product. Often these go waste after one read. Get your customer to instead watch videos on the internet or visit your website to learn to use the product. Not only is it more sustainable practice, it does a better job than a product brochure. 9. Lead by example. When you decide to position your company as an eco-friendly one, walk the talk. As the head of the company, it will be important that you also follow sustainable lifestyle. 10. Last but not the least, build a culture. Get your employees to imbibe the company culture on thinking about sustainability in each decision and step they take. Be clear on your priorities and work to ensure you meet them.
The road is long and tough but the fruits at the end are worth fighting for!
Pallavi Utagi is the founder of Superbottoms.