Every business impacts the environment - if you want to sit there and say, “not I!” I’m sorry, you are kidding yourself. It can be directly obvious such as plastic packing material for your imported products tossed out daily, to the very common habit of printing your every single invoice and bill (hello multi-page phone bills!) to maintain a “paper trail,” to the more obscure supporting a supplier who is directly negatively impacting our planet.
How much of a drama was it when Coles and Woolies changed from plastic bags to bring your own? Wow! What an outcry! And then less than a year later, Coles comes out with these tiny collectible food items and a good portion of the public freaked out about the waste of plastic involved. What does this tell us? Change causes panic at first, but once the mindset is adjusted, the support spreads like wildfire.
Who is still mailing their invoices? Stop it. You do not need to, everyone has an email address. If you are about to say, “not Bob Sr. from Been-In-Business-10000-Years-And-Hates-Change,” ok fine. Bob wants a mailed printed copy of his invoice so he can pay you buy cheque (groan!) and we oblige because he’s Bob and you want to keep him involved. Well, give it a few more years and Bob’s kids will let him retire and take over, and I can guarantee you that Bob’s kids will scream at you for mailing them anything, so you better have a backup plan. So – get to emailing pdfs of your invoices to all clients, except the Bob’s and the savings on postage and stationary can be redirected to advertising, a new desk or the staff Christmas party.
What should you do so you can easily review old invoices and bills? Save pdf’s of to your computer, no printing needed. Backup your computer to an external hard drive every week (at least, if not more often). Some people backup their backups to another source too. If you are using an online accounting software like Myob, QuickBooks Online or Xero, you don’t really need to save pdfs of your invoices – this is more to satisfy your need to feel like you filed your data away safe and sound. Google Drive, dropbox and similar allow you to access your filing system whenever you want – so once you choose to go digital, decide on a clean way to label. My personal preference for invoices is “Invoice Number Client Name YYMMDD”, and for bills “Supplier Name YYMMDD” (searching is nice and easy). Its all about consistency, whatever way you decide to go: If you are going to label by date, label by date; if you are going to label by name, label everything by name – trust me this decision and sticking to it will go a long way!
Buy in bulk when possible. I should reword this to be buy in bulk where reasonable. If you need new USB sticks, buy 3 instead of one – its usually the same packaging. But if you need a new keyboard, well you probably only need to buy the one!
Choose items that are delivered in paper packaging. I love Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. Not only is it reasonably priced, they deliver very fast, is fabulous for the environment, but they are individually wrapped in fun colourful wrappings with a short entertaining message on each, so your clients have some extra décor in the loo as well as a little bit of reading material while they gain a bit more respect for you.
Waste not Want not! Think about your purchases, use things in full, keep supplies organised so you don’t go purchasing additionals because you can’t find the extra envelopes you bought last month – a win for the wallet and the planet.
How about retail shops? Keep careful inventory and document what sells so you don’t waste ordering what you don’t need. Lately shops have eliminated the need for loyalty cards as well, by running customer loyalty card numbers off of phone numbers instead of dishing out thousands of plastic credit card sized members cards that most of us forget to bring with us.
Email newsletters and promotions instead of handing out flyers in bags or mailings.
Do you want help brainstorming environmentally friendly solutions for your business?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org the answer to these questions and I’ll send you at least three suggestions back!
1. What services / products you provide?
2. How many employees do you have?
3. Do you work remotely, onsite or both?
4. What do you buy every week? Every month?
5. I feel like questions need to be in 5’s or 10’s so tell me something else about your business!