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Sustainability strategies for SMEs

You often don’t get through a day without hearing about sustainability, whether it’s from an Instagram influencer, politicians or the press. We all know why sustainability is increasingly important, however in a time that it is more relevant than ever, unfortunately, it is a term often used to promote rather than implement. When we think about environmental impact in business the most obvious metric is that of large corporates; they’ve got more people, more buildings and more waste. But let’s not underestimate the power of the small team. As individuals, we can make efforts to reduce our waste production in many different ways.

We’re sharing our sustainability strategy in the hope it’ll get the conversation going for others.

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Our team spent many a Monday morning swapping our at home attempts to be more environmentally conscious. This led to us exploring what we could do in the workplace to mirror our out of hours efforts. Could we be a more sustainable company without blowing our start-up budget?

To make it official we started out with a simple internal strategy document with the steps we could take and shared this with the team, encouraging buy-in and ensuring people would actually follow through.

The key to success is ongoing changes instead of any drastic policy overhauls. We have started with a few small commitments that will encourage a more eco-focused work culture.

Here are some small sustainable tactics your start-up can try:

Composting

It’s not common knowledge, but organic waste does more damage to our environment when it is in a landfill, as it breaks down it produces methane, a gas more potent than carbon dioxide.

Composting is cheap, easy and sustainable. Here is how your workplace can implement this method:

  1. Find a suitable size compost bin (this will depend on the size of your work) that will fit a week’s worth of compost.
  2. Find out from your local council where compost disposal is available where you can dispose weekly. Your local council should be able to tell you what are the do’s and don’ts of composting.
  3. Organise a weekly schedule for disposal.

At YC, our compost strategy is led by our eco-officer who collects the compost every Friday afternoon to be emptied out into one of our local council compost disposals.

Coffee and single-use plastic

Like most start-ups, our team goes through a lot of coffee, and we’ve made a promise to minimise and eventually eliminate the use of disposable cups or single-use plastic.

  1. When you join the team you get a KeepCup.
  2. Making coffee at work by investing in a French coffee press, not only do you save dollars on buying coffee, coffee is great for compost!
  3. Introduce the idea of bringing our own reusable cutlery for any of our takeaway food and opting out of single-use plastic.

Note: If you have a coffee machine, make sure the pods are recyclable. Nespresso provides a service where you can hand in your pods to get recycled. Before agreeing on a coffee machine in your office, find out if the pods for that machine are recyclable/compostable.

 

Recycle. Reduce. Reuse

Recycling is important since already recycle at home, your staff should know dispose of recyclable plastic, paper, glass and aluminium in dedicated bins for recycling,

  • Make sure staff are know how to effectively prepare recyclables ie. cleaning them before disposing. 
  • Reduce or reuse as much as possible.

Our team haven’t reached our sustainability goals yet, but we have made a commitment to contribute to a more eco-focused future, and we are looking forward to working collaboratively to implement new strategies.

Download our sustainability strategy for your business

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To be effective the motivation needs to be built into your business’s values and culture. It is an ongoing process of continuous improvement to create a better business culture around sustainability.

References:
greenbiz.com/blog/2007/09/18/sustainability-workplace
axiomworkplaces.com.au/our-insight/sustainable-workplace-benefits/
forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2018/06/19/the-importance-of-creating-sustainable-employees-in-the-workplace/#2ed005af7285
cultivatingcapital.com