Nowadays, sustainable development is steadily growing closer to the heart of businesses’ concerns. Global warming, overconsumption, wasting natural resources… and the list goes on. Have you ever considered your own ecological footprint and how you could improve it? We have compiled a list of actions you can implement to help make your business, big or small, more sustainable and more responsible.
1. First plan of action: office materials and supplies
Every business needs them, so it’s a great place to start. Rather than buying supplies on amazon, look to websites specialized in eco-responsible office goods such as Un Bureau sur la Terre (site in French) or Pocheco for envelopes (an excellent example of a business that combines ecological and social models).
What about printers? Ideally, multifunction models save more paper and ink thanks to double-sided printing and draft modes, for example. As for ink cartridges (very toxic to the environment) it’s best to opt for eco-labels such as NF Environment and recycle your empties. Who knows! Maybe someday we’ll be using waterjet printers! Chinese researchers have in fact developed a printer that uses water-based ink: thanks to a special type of paper, the water printed characters appear and dry within 22 hours. Regarding your computer equipment, do what you can to choose eco-labels like Ecolabel or Energy Star and go for a laptop rather than a desktop – they consume up to two times less energy. And of course, when you’re done using them, remember either to recycle them or give them to Digital Inclusion, a social enterprise promoting social inclusion through new technologies.
2. The next step: raising awareness and getting your employees involved
What’s most important in a small company is for the people working there to adopt eco-friendly measures. Because if the team doesn’t get involved, your eco-efforts will have little impact. Ask them what they would like to see happen: for instance, organizing a training course on recycling, replacing water bottles and plastic dishes, etc. Positive Impakt and SuperDrecksKescht offer workshops for raising awareness and moving toward a circular economy.
Finding out how your employees engage as citizens outside of work (volunteering with associations, etc.) can help you implement actions that will resonate with them. Why not set up a sustainability workgroup to devise concrete actions, such as monthly challenges or thematic workshops? Commitments agreed between employees are generally more effective than a memo from management.
3. Measure your social and environment impact
Because it’s easier to correct identified flaws. If the size of your company allows, an audit can help you detect any unnecessary energy consumption – and rectify the situation. To do so, you can seek help from national players, such as the National Institute for the Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility of Companies, or Institut National pour le Développement Durable and la Responsabilité Sociale des Entreprises (INDR, site only in French), or international players such as the B Corporation.
IMS (Inspiring More Sustainability) has also developed a Diversity Charter aiming to guide organizations in the implementation of practices promoting cohesion and social equity.
4. Give priority to responsible service providers
If you do a lot of work with suppliers, look into their commitments in terms of sustainable development. Simply asking them what they do to be more environmentally-friendly can get them thinking about what they could be doing. For example, have you thought to work with printing companies with ‘CO² Neutral’ certification for your printing needs (business cards, flyers, etc.), or with social enterprises such as the Kraizbierg Foundation (website in French)?
Events organizing also generates a great deal of waste. As far as possible, give priority to organizers who work with organic and local products, create as little waste as possible, or social enterprises who work with vulnerable people, such as Chiche, Yolande coop or Les Ateliers du Tricentenaire (websites not available in English).
5. Improve your recycling practices
Effective waste management doesn’t only mean reducing what you throw to the bin. To the greatest possible extent, our trash should not be sent to the dump. Make sure clear indications of what can/cannot be recycled are posted near your bins and battery collection point. If it hasn’t already been done, prohibit single-use plastic cutlery, cups and containers (good thing there’s ecobox!). Why not provide your staff with reusable coffee cups as incentive or urge them to bring one from home. The same goes for water bottles, both plastic and glass – try to eliminate their use by investing in a water filtration system.
6. Think green(ery)
Add plants to your office for a greener working environment. Not only are they nice to look at, but they also reduce air pollution in closed spaces and boost the wellbeing and productivity of employees! In addition to cleaning the air, some plants actually have the ability to neutralize computer waves.
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