If you are starting a new business, chances are that you want to adopt a concrete sustainability strategy as soon as possible to make your business practices sustainable. Not only can sustainable practices help your business save money in the long run, but also attract investment, attract new customers and prepare for the future, all while reducing your environmental impact. Sounds great! But you might be wondering then, how and where do you start making your business sustainable? Here we have a list of steps that you can take to start and improve your business’s sustainability program.
1. Define your business’s mission statement and values.
The very first step to achieving sustainability is to clearly articulate the purpose, vision and values your business holds towards sustainability. By defining a clear sustainability mission, your business will have an ideal to work towards that will anchor the organization’s overall efforts, ranging from employee initiatives to stakeholder engagement.
2. Set SMART sustainability goals and curate a sustainability strategy.
Once your organization has a clear sustainability vision, you can streamline that mission into smaller, specific goals that can be divided across the business’s functional areas. By establishing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that align with your mission and values, you can boost the implementation and execution of your business’s sustainability mission and track and report progress. Examples of SMART goals include reducing energy consumption by a certain percentage or implementing a recycling program with a certain quantity of materials recycled. These SMART goals can then drive your business’s eventual long-term sustainability strategy, focusing on specific programs and initiatives that align with profitability.
3. Incorporate sustainability into your products or services.
There is no better way to improve and demonstrate your sustainability mission to customers than letting your business’s products or services represent it. Explore how you can make your core offerings more sustainable–this might involve using eco-friendly materials, reducing energy consumption and/or waste produced in the production process, offering renewable energy alternatives, achieving sustainability standards compliance, and more.
4. Source responsibly.
If your business uses raw materials or other products, it is a good idea to consider the sustainability of these sources. Sustainable sourcing entails ensuring good social and environmental practices across your supply chain, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint aligned with your overall sustainability goals. To achieve this, evaluate your supply chain and work with suppliers who share your commitment to sustainability. These evaluations may consider factors such as ethical sourcing, fair labor practices, and environmentally friendly materials.
5. Conduct a sustainability assessment and optimize resource efficiency.
In line with your sustainability strategy, it would be a good idea to maximize the efficiency of your business’s input resources. Through measurement and evaluation, you can identify opportunities to minimize energy use, water consumption, and waste. These findings can then be used to implement energy-efficient equipment or practices, like recycling and composting, while also leading to cost savings for your business.
6. Engage your employees.
To ensure that your business’s sustainability goals are achieved, it is important for all employees to understand and share your vision. By helping your employees understand the role of sustainability in your industry, your product/service, and how they can contribute to it, you can ensure everyone is bought into your goals. You can involve your employees in your sustainability efforts by encouraging them to adopt sustainable practices at work and home or provide education on relevant topics like recycling and composting. This will lead to increased contributions, potential new ideas, and greater innovation and efficiency.
7. Engage your community.
To boost your business’s sustainability and profitability, it can be beneficial to get involved with the local community around you. This can lead to greater awareness and visibility of your business along with exposure to local stakeholders and events, enabling positive community engagement from your business. By actively participating in local sustainability initiatives, collaborating with like-minded local organizations, and building partnerships that contribute to the broader sustainability of your region, you can amplify your social and environmental impact and business’s success.
8. Communicate your sustainability initiatives.
It is important for all stakeholders of your business to understand your sustainability initiatives and goals. Transparently communicate your sustainability efforts to your customers and stakeholders and highlight your achievements and progress toward your sustainability goals, as this can help differentiate your business and build trust. This communication can be in the form of sustainability reports, bulletins, newsletters, and more.
9. Measure and track progress.
Once your sustainability strategy and implementation are underway, regularly monitor and evaluate your social and environmental performance. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions.
10. Continuously monitor and improve.
Sustainability is an ongoing journey. Regularly review and update your sustainability strategy to adapt to changing circumstances, emerging technologies, and evolving best practices.
Remember, each business is unique, so tailor these steps to fit your specific industry, resources, and goals. Starting small and gradually expanding your sustainability efforts can be an effective approach. Ecolytics helps make this journey smoother by enabling your business to achieve several of the aforementioned steps through our single sustainability software solution. Our platform allows you to track your environmental impact and ESG performance and provides tailored recommendations for actions your business can take to reach net-zero, become B Corp certified, and more. We also help you showcase your impact to your customers and investors through a custom-built action page so they know they’re supporting a sustainable business. Get in touch with us and request a demo today!