5 ways to make your small business greener

In today’s world, it’s rare to see a day where a major news outlet isn’t covering climate change. This is in line with the mood of the nation. A recent Lowy Institute poll shows that the majority of Australian adults (64%) see climate change as “a critical threat”.

Sustainability has officially hit the mainstream, and as a small business, you can’t afford to be left behind. But what can you do? Here are five quick ideas to get you on the right track.

1.Get help from the (free) experts

You’re not alone on this sustainability mission. There are a lot of organisations out there that want to help you along the way. A good place to start is your state government and local council who might have a program in place. Here at our Finder HQ in Sydney, we’ve benefited hugely from the City of Sydney CitySwitch program, and it hasn’t cost us a dollar. There are also heaps of free content on the Internet for you to learn more. This Auspost guide is a comprehensive report on small business sustainability while our very own Finder Green page is loaded with free tips on how to find sustainability products.

2. Find a green electricity provider

Most of us probably think we’re paying too much for our energy, and when you run a business, you need to find as many ways to cut costs as possible. Your high energy bill might be an annoying expense, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to go green. There are a number of energy providers in the Australian market who offer carbon neutral or GreenPower options that don’t have to cost the Earth. There’s a common misconception that going green with your energy will cost you, but if you do your research, you might find a provider that will help you go carbon neutral, while also reducing your bills – win-win!

3. Reduce your single use plastics

Plastic is a sustainability issue that really resonates with consumers in Australia. We’re a beach loving nation and seeing plastic in our oceans makes the problem very real. The good news is there are a lot of great solutions out there for you. Can you ditch plastic straws for paper alternatives? Can you provide reusable coffee cups for your staff? Or can you follow the example set by Qantas and go completely plastic-free in some or all of your business operations? Start small and keep going. This is a visible change that customers will love.

4. Find innovative ways to reuse your waste

You might not believe it, but there are lots of organisations out there that want your waste. Here at Finder, we provide free lunch for our staff but often have leftovers that would otherwise go to waste. Our partnership with OzHarvest means they “rescue” our unwanted food and deliver it to people in need. We also have a similar deal with the coffee beans we use for our office coffee machine. The Bugisu Project not only delivers fresh single-origin beans on a weekly basis, but they also collect our used coffee grounds and convert them into valuable products like soap. What waste do you create? And is there an organisation that might want to give it a new home?

5. Recycle as much as possible

Recycling has never been easier, but it can still be confusing for small businesses. Your first job is to work out where your rubbish goes once it leaves your bin. If you’re a cafe or a shop, this should be easy enough (just speak to your local council), but if you’re in an office in a complex strata building, the answers aren’t always forthcoming (pro-trick: follow your cleaners when they take the bins). Once you’ve got answers on what can and can’t be recycled, you may need to restructure your bins accordingly. In your office, you’ll need to split your waste out into a bunch of different streams to match the recycling for your building. Getting the right bins is just the start, but getting people to use them correctly is even harder – but it’s a battle worth fighting!

Ben King is the corporate social responsibility manager at Finder.