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You’re hustling away on your small business that is ALREADY a brilliant option for shoppers who want to purchase from a more eco-friendly source. It’s ethical, it’s got a transparent supply chain, but could you improve it?
If you’re a regular reader you will be aware of my small business, Tee Party Clothing, where I hand embroider customised and personalised tees and sell them on Etsy. And although me embroidering a tee by hand from my living room is a whole lot more ethical than a Topshop tee, I still have a little way to go to call my small business truly eco-friendly.
If you’re in a similar position, you may be looking for changes and replacements to make your small business that little bit better for the planet and those who inhabit it. Here are 5 things you could do to make your small business more eco-friendly.
Switch to eco-friendly packaging.
I’m guilty of sending my tees out in plastic jiffy bags as they are quick, convenient and cheap. It has only been more recently that a customer specifically requested plastic-free packaging, and I was a little stumped.
I decided to change the packaging to brown paper with the tee wrapped in tissue paper, but still unfortunately had to use plastic tape to secure the parcel.
With new developments in eco-friendly packaging, it is now easier than ever to cut out the plastic and swap to a boxed solution, with paper based tape. As soon as my supply of jiffy bags run out, I will be making a switch to paper-based packaging.
Lil Packaging has some fantastic cardboard and paper-based packaging solutions which are used by the likes of Boots and Hotel Chocolat. From pizza-boxes styles, to cardboard envelopes and paper tape, they are by far an industry leader in eco-friendly packaging materials.
You might also be interested in: how to promote your Etsy store using Instagram
Sustainably source your raw materials.
If you’re not using sustainable raw materials, your product can’t be truly eco-friendly. We do have a responsibility as small business owners to try and lead the way in terms of offering sustainable products to our customers. I have been using Fruit of the Loom tees for the last few years, but am now investigating a switch to recycled or sustainably sourced cotton tees.
I need to use up the tees that I currently have in stock, but after this, I will make the switch.
Whether your products are paper based, textile based or metal based, we can all do our bit to switch to a recycled material. PLUS it’s a great USP as the market speeds towards a more sustainable future.
Have a ‘green’ policy in your office
If you’re a small business it might just be you who runs the ship, which makes a ‘green’ office policy much easier to implement. Could you cut down on the amount you use a printer? Use a green energy supplier? Switch from convenience coffee to a home brew?
I personally run my small business from my sofa, and made the conscious decision not to purchase a printer so that I wouldn’t be tempted to print out absolutely anything and everything. It’s worked and I have found ways around not having a printer at home.
If you have other employees, could they work from home? Could they take a more ‘green’ mode of transport? Could you implement a cycle to work incentive scheme? Or could multiple employees lift-share?
Not all of these options might be possible, but by offering these options to your staff they have the opportunity to contribute to a more eco-friendly business.
If you have local tradesmen and suppliers in your area who could fulfil your needs- why not go to them instead of outsourcing internationally?
Whether it’s the coffee you have in the office, or the furniture that you buy, you can bet that there is a local supplier who you could purchase it from. By sourcing locally for your own small business, you are supporting OTHER small businesses and keeping the high street afloat.
You might also be interested in: the ultimate ethical gift guide
It goes without saying but recycling as much waste as possible from your office is going to make your small business more eco-friendly. From paper, to plastic and food waste, this can all be recycled and will make a small difference.
You can also recycle old electronics such as broken laptops and key boards, textile waste can be dropped off in a dedicated recycling area, and old or broken furniture can go to a charity or on a freecycle website to ensure that they are not going to landfill.
There are so many things that you can do to make your small business more eco-friendly, and these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. My next steps with my small business, Tee Party Clothing, is to switch to an eco-friendly packaging solution, and to source my raw materials more sustainably.
As small business owners, we get the chance to lead the way in making more green decisions that we may not otherwise be able to make in a larger company. This means that we can also offer an eco-friendly alternative way of shopping to customers who may have become disenchanted with the options available on the high street.
If you have your own small business, what are your sustainability goals for the future?