Small Businesses Taking Steps Towards Sustainability

Small Businesses Taking Steps Towards Sustainability

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Small companies account for the majority of businesses worldwide, representing upwards of 90% of the entire. They present greater than half of all employment and are main financial drivers. Given the sheer collective dimension of the small enterprise group, it has an incredible alternative to make a major influence on sustainability.

But we don’t usually hear concerning the approaches small companies are taking to cut back their carbon footprint. Yet, tales, case research, and assets abound for large corporations which might be implementing extra sustainable practices. These methods, nevertheless, usually are not usually relevant to the typical small enterprise.

In addition to a scarcity of assets, a number of misconceptions can hold small companies from pursuing sustainability. But now, with larger frequency, small enterprise house owners around the globe are disproving these misconceptions — discovering artistic methods across the challenges of incorporating sustainable practices right into a smaller enterprise.

Misconceptions Concerning Sustainability in Small Business

There are many causes small companies aren’t pursuing sustainability initiatives as actively as their enterprise-level counterparts. For starters, most don’t have the assets giant firms do. They don’t have groups devoted to strategizing and creating sustainability options. Nor are there as many strategic roadmaps to comply with that handle the realities of small enterprise operations.

Resources apart, nevertheless, a much bigger inhibitor is commonly the misconceptions regarding sustainability and small enterprise. Two of which are likely to prevail: the assumption that the typical small enterprise gained’t be capable of make a major influence, and that sustainability is a price middle in that it prices the enterprise cash and will circuitously add to income.

Given that small companies signify nearly all of companies worldwide and greater than half of the gross home product (GDP) in developed nations, they contribute an incredible deal to environmental air pollution. But this implies they’ve an incredible alternative to make an influence within the different route.

Sustainability doesn’t should be a price middle and in lots of circumstances, it will probably save companies cash by eliminating pointless waste or redundancies in operational processes. In some circumstances, it will probably even result in new income streams.

The first step is to determine the place there could also be pointless waste within the enterprise and what’s contributing to environmental air pollution. Consider beginning with one course of after which start to peel again the layers.

That’s precisely what a number of of the small companies that have been acknowledged by Sustainable Earth did after they started their sustainability journeys.

Small Businesses Making an Impact

Sustainable Earth — a web based sustainability useful resource created by Arizona State University — not too long ago acknowledged the achievements of 15 small U.S. companies by means of its Sustainable Earth Small Business Awards (SESBAs). These companies are working to make their companies extra sustainable and have been keen to share their tales to assist encourage different small companies.

The acknowledged companies fell into three classes:

  • Sustainable first: people who began with a sustainable mission
  • Transitioning companies: these taking steps to be extra sustainable, whether or not by means of waste discount or giving again to the planet and group
  • Individual champions: solopreneurs or people inside an organization who’re making a big effect of their communities

Wok This Way: a Sustainable-First Food Truck

One of the “sustainable-first” companies, Wok This Way, calls itself Arizona’s first “inexperienced” meals truck with a trigger. In addition to its 100% plant-based, Asian-inspired delicacies, the corporate additionally employs folks with particular wants. And from its inception, its mission has been to show sustainability practices and ship nutritious meals, utilizing sustainable consumption and manufacturing strategies to fight local weather change.

“Modern meals methods proceed to have a detrimental influence on the atmosphere, contributing giant quantities of waste and meals waste,” mentioned founder Kristine Mills. “They’re additionally main customers of power, fossil fuels, and water. When we discovered this through the preliminary growth of the truck, we knew Wok This Way wanted to do higher.”

Mills desires to be a pacesetter for different meals vans and brick-and-mortar eating places to develop sustainable fashions of observe. Without a mannequin to comply with, she sought out assist, first becoming a member of the Green Restaurant Association (GRA), and subsequently Local First, a nonprofit group dedicated to group and financial growth all through Arizona.

Through all of it, Mills has lower the enterprise’s waste by means of composting, utilizing biodegradable packaging and utensils, and recycling. She can also be engaged on integrating rooftop photo voltaic panels and a chargeable battery pack on the truck, which she estimates will scale back power consumption by 60%. Mills additionally estimates that the enterprise will save roughly 40 gallons of water per occasion they attend by recycling 100% of the truck’s water utilization by means of graywater assortment. The truck additionally operates on biodiesel.

For different companies, notably meals companies, pursuing sustainable initiatives, Mills recommends doing all of your analysis.

“As you be taught extra concerning the meals trade and its influence, you acknowledge easy methods to make change,” she mentioned. “It provides you a chance to determine how sustainability matches into your online business.”

She additionally really helpful collaborating and never being afraid to ask for assist. Most different small companies are open to becoming a member of forces or sharing what they’ve discovered. And lastly, Mills believes one of many best methods to assist a extra sustainable and equitable society is to create extra inclusive hiring practices.

MISGIF: Transitioning to Sustainable Photo Booth Options

Another instance is MISGIF, a photograph sales space activation company that has been transitioning to extra sustainable practices over the previous few years. Now the corporate’s mission is to offer sustainable photograph sales space choices which have a optimistic influence on the atmosphere and group. To make these modifications, the group took the next steps:

  • Eliminated printed photographs, switching to an all-digital mannequin
  • Began encouraging reusable backdrops as an alternative of balloon installations
  • Sourcing props and rental provides from native companies in the identical area of the occasion
  • Equipping photograph cubicles with LED lights
  • Outfitting their workplace with low-flow taps and energy-efficient washers and lighting

The collective of those seemingly small steps has made a major influence and because the MISGIF group put it, “helped rework the way in which we do enterprise for the higher.”

HighWire: Cutting-Edge Cocktail Venue Goes Green

Finally, HighWire, a molecular mixology lounge and group area in Tucson, Arizona, didn’t at all times function with sustainability in thoughts. But when proprietor Nick Wayne discovered concerning the implications of the waste produced by companies, it kickstarted him on a brand new mission.

He began by putting in a 1,500-gallon rainwater harvesting system that sustains the venue’s vegetation and supplies water to bushes and crops all through the encircling downtown space. He additionally integrated low-water-use fixtures that saved 20% over the federal customary. In addition, he changed all lighting with LEDs, swapped straws and cups for compostable choices, and made disposable straws and cups obtainable solely by request. Throughout the yr, the group receives sustainability coaching from Mrs. Green’s World. Now he’s engaged on utilizing meals waste for composting and collaborating with town on a extra environment friendly recycling program.

“There positively is a price of doing inexperienced enterprise,” Wayne mentioned. “By switching to compostable straws and water cups, we took on an extra $5,000 a yr for these merchandise. However, we now solely provide straws and water on request. When HighWire was renovated, the low-water restroom fixtures and low-energy lighting have been an upcharge within the funds. I felt this cash was properly spent and can be recouped in time.”

Though he hopes greener merchandise develop into the usual and are extra simply accessible to everybody, he doesn’t view sustainability as a sunk price. It’s an funding in his group, the group, and the long run.

“An sudden end result from ‘going inexperienced’ at HighWire has been the joy and enthusiasm from the workers,” Wayne mentioned. “They genuinely appear to benefit from the trainings and having a voice in methods we are able to make an influence.”

Sustainable Earth Small Business Awardees

Sustainable First

Transitioning Businesses

Individual Champions

About the Author

Katelyn ArmbrusterKatelyn Armbruster is a program supervisor for Arizona State University’s Walton Sustainability Solutions Services below the Global Futures Lab. In addition to quite a few sustainability initiatives and applications, Armbruster additionally oversees Sustainable Earth, an internet site for sharing data, information, and concepts for a clear earth.