The holidays can be a busy time of year for many small businesses, but as you ramp up your operations, it also offers many opportunities to reduce waste and demonstrate your business’ commitment to sustainability. Americans generally produce 25 percent more waste in the holiday months, but with just a few eco-conscious changes, you can keep your company’s environmental footprint low while still meeting holiday demands and celebrating the season with your employees. From using sustainable shipping practices to greening your office’s holiday parties, here are a few of the Green Business Bureau’s top tips to businesses looking for a green (and successful) season.
Since it’s the season of giving, many companies experience higher consumer demand for their products and services in November and December. This makes it a perfect time to critically examine your company’s supply chain for inefficiencies and for any opportunities to reduce your environmental impact. This can involve asking your suppliers about their sustainability policies to make sure your current product sourcing is in line with your business sustainability vision. This can also involve more targeted looks at specific areas for eliminating unnecessary waste or bringing greener products to your customers, from looking at the materials used in manufacturing, to looking at supplier shipping practices.
Similarly, also consider examining your own shipping and delivery practices to find opportunities for greener procedures. Reuse boxes from suppliers for your own shipments when possible, and use boxes that are sized appropriately for customer orders to reduce the need for packaging material. For shipments that do require cushioning, forgo Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap in favor of shredded paper or similar recyclable choices. Many carriers now also offer carbon offsets to help mitigate the effect of shipping emissions, like the carbon neutral shipping option offered by UPS. Consider working with your carriers to extend this as an option to your customers.
While it’s a time of increased business, the holidays are also a time for celebration at many companies. Whether sending gifts or organizing the office holiday party, taking sustainability into consideration will help to keep waste to a minimum while demonstrating your eco-consciousness to employees and to your client list. Charitable gifts to environmentally-focused non-profits can make company gifts. Alternatively, consider a “gift of green” by arranging gift baskets with reusable water bottles, reusable shopping bags, low-maintenance office plants, or other practical and green gift ideas.
For your holiday office party, reusable plates, cups, and utensils will do away with one of the largest sources of event waste. If reusable servingware just isn’t possible, choose compostable paper or bio-plastic products that offer a safe, sturdy, and sustainable substitute for traditional disposable plasticware or Styrofoam products.
The holiday season can be overwhelming as your sales and production grows to its annual peak, so enacting some green changes might need to wait until after the holidays, but now is still a perfect time to identify areas for change within your business. By approaching the holidays with a sustainability focus, you can not only make for a greener season, but can also position your business for a lower environmental impact year-round.