Yes, even YOUR business can be more sustainable
5 Minute Read
For some businesses, finding sustainable options is easy. Like if you make physical products, make food, or ship orders to your customer. Those are all pretty obvious since there’s something physical that requires resources to be extracted and transportation to get you and your customer. From packaging, to finding good suppliers, to deciding what materials to use for your product – there are lots of options to choose from to make your business more sustainable.
But there are also a lot of businesses with less obvious options. These include service-based businesses, interior designers, tattoo artists, life coaches, and even software developers.
And the overarching question for all of these businesses is: if you don’t sell a physical product, how can your business be sustainable? And does it even matter…?
The truth is: There are ways to make any business more sustainable. You just have to look under the surface.
You see, every business decision has a positive or negative impact on the planet. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in. You have the opportunity to intertwine sustainability into everything you do.
How can a business be more sustainable if it doesn’t make products?
The first thing you wanna do is look at all parts of your business. Take an inventory of the 4 P’s: products, processes, partners, and platforms. Then see if there are ways you can make each of them more sustainable. Here are some examples.
Products (or resources):
- Are single-use or disposable items frequently used in your day-to-day business? (e.g., paper, planners, single-use utensils and containers for company meetings, meetups, retreats, events, etc.)
- What are your business cards made of? (e.g. paper, paper lined with plastic, paper printed with non-recyclable ink, etc.)
- What’s your policy on printing? (e.g., “We must have a record of everything!” or “We have a no-print policy!” etc.)
- Do you send gifts to clients or partners? Are those gifts sustainably sourced? What are they made of? What are they packaged in?
- Where do you source your electricity for your office/headquarters? (e.g. renewables vs fossil fuels)
- When you have a company meeting/retreat/event, what kind of food do you source? (e.g. local, organic, etc.)
- Do you have merchandise with your company branding on it? (e.g., uniforms, pens, t-shirts, etc.) Where do you source those items? What materials do you use? Are they manufactured in a fair trade, ethical, and safe facility?
- Did you build your website efficiently with minimal code so it loads fast and requires the least amount of energy?
- Do you send lots of unnecessary emails, notifications/messages? All of these things require energy to be sent.
- Do you fly first class for important meetings? Or do you take the train?
- Who are your partners?
- Is your agreement fair to all parties involved?
Does your partner:
- Reflect your values?
- Treat their employees well?
- Try to work with local partners/businesses when possible?
- Use a co-working space? Is it’s mission in line with your ethical/sustainable values?
- Use your business to support environmental causes, non-profit organizations, or elected government officials? Do those choices align with your values? Are they good for the planet?
Platforms (or services):
- Where do you host your website? Is it an environmentally conscious option? Do they take measures to offset their energy carbon emissions?
- What sort of platforms/services do you use to run your business? Is there an environmental impact from using that option? (e.g., Facebook, WordPress, etc.)
- Where do you run ads for your business? Does that ad platform align with how you run your business? (e.g., is it on Fox news, Google, a local newspaper, etc?)
Now, I’m pretty damn proud of my 4-P system! But if all else fails, there’s an even simpler way to evaluate your business’ sustainability score with just a few simple questions.
When making any decision for your business, there are a few questions you should ask yourself…
- Who will benefit? (e.g. employees, clients, the planet, etc.)
- Will anyone/anything suffer? (e.g. increased carbon emissions due to energy intensive processes/shipping/travel)
- What are the external consequences of making this decision? (e.g.,will making this decision inhibit other people/systems/ecosystems from thriving?)
How to take action now:
Now, if you’re looking for some concrete examples of how to make your business more sustainable and wanna make sure you avoid the most common rookie mistakes, make sure you grab my guide on the 6 simple steps to making your service business more sustainable.
The truth is, this guide is applicable to all businesses. But I wanted to make sure service businesses knew they had the opportunity to be super sustainable as well. The guide will help you make sure everything you do has integrity and intentionality behind it.
After all, if there’s no planet, you won’t have a business at all.
Grab your guide on the 6 simple steps to making your service business more sustainable