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Can your small business “Go Green”?

Over the last few years, small businesses have been turning to green practices to help their bottom line. This is due in part because of the general focus on the impact of climate change, increased costs for energy and water conservation, as well as the rise of environmental consciousness among consumers.

The good news is that small business owners can adopt some greener ways for their business to be sustainable as well as help reduce their overhead costs and attract more customers. We outline some easy to implement options below.

The push for greener business practices

In 2020, New Zealand declared a climate change emergency and joined 32 other nations in formally acknowledging this global issue. It also launched an initiative requiring the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

The New Zealand government is introducing initiatives to make climate-reporting a part of business operations for big businesses and regulated institutions. The government is also increasing its efforts towards climate change by asking small businesses to do their part to reduce their carbon emissions and become more climate friendly.

Dedicated organizations in the public and private sectors are collaborating to draw out frameworks and create tools to guide small and medium businesses on how to do their part for the environment and reap the benefits.

There is now an official Climate Action Toolbox released by the Sustainable Business Network and business.govt.nz which highlights 5 areas within which you can take action. By following these simple practices, your business can reduce costs, attract more customers and do your part for the environment.

With 97% of NZ businesses being small and medium sized, by acting together they can contribute hugely to lowering New Zealand’s carbon emissions

 

 

Customer’s preferring green brands

The push for greener options is also coming from the customer side with 87 percent of Kiwi customers stating that sustainability is a mainstream concern for them.

New Zealanders have a strong affinity for doing their part to protect the environment. The Better Futures Report 2021 by Colmar Brunton found that more than half of Kiwis are in fact concerned about issues such as recycling, over packaging and landfill waste and over three quarters of them ensure they do their share by reducing, recycling and reusing what they can.

With an increased global focus on the environment, small businesses that adapt their operations to be more sustainable will have a clear advantage and be viewed favourably in consumers’ eyes.

The report also stated that nearly half of New Zealand households have consciously switched to a brand/ service provider which is more sustainable. Customers will increasingly look for sustainable brands to support, so it’s important for small businesses to start making the necessary changes now.

 

How can your business go green in 2022?

In order to make the transition, SMEs need to assess their environmental impact, identify areas for improvement and set measurable goals. While many businesses may want to take the right steps, one of the key challenges is where to start.

There are many ways small businesses can go green, for instance, you can start by making small changes to the way your business operates because small changes can have a significant impact on the overall environment

Some of the key focus areas highlighted in the Climate Action Toolbox to make these changes are:

  • Within the business premises such as using less energy, choosing supplies carefully and disposing waste responsibly.
  • While moving goods such as reducing dependency on air freight, buying local and switching to electric where possible by working with your suppliers.
  • While moving people such as using public transport, encouraging carpooling and providing flexible workplaces to reduce driving.
  • Site operations and equipment by choosing your production and storage equipment carefully and responsibly.
  • Designing and making products by sourcing from ethical suppliers, building durable products and upcycling where possible.
You can also use the free assessment guide to get a tailored action plan designed specifically for your business. From here, you can get a range of suggested actions which can help reduce your impact.
 
They can be small and simple steps such as choosing energy efficient lighting, reducing paper waste (you can even turn off printing receipts from your EFTPOS machine) and limiting non-essential travel.
 
Whatever changes you decide to make, be sure to set measurable goals so you can track your progress and continue to improve over time.

 

Let your customers know you’re going green

Finally, with customers increasingly interested in sustainability, it’s your time to shout about it. It can be a great opportunity to market your small business as being environmentally responsible and social media is an easy and free platform to do so.
 
When asked about what influences their perception of a brand’s sustainability, Kiwi consumers said that communication from the company, product packaging and word-of-mouth recommendations had the most impact.
 
There are plenty of small things you can do to show that you’re taking steps towards sustainability while still protecting your bottom line and the above highlights plenty of business benefits to help you consider going green.

 

Resources

Some of the industry and government resources you can use to get started:

Climate Action Toolbox – Get a tailored step-by-step action plan for your business to reduce its impact on the climate with useful resources and case studies of New Zealand businesses, giving real-life examples of what they’re doing to lessen their climate impact.

Business.govt.nz – Business planning tools, tips and expert advice from government and industry, designed to help Kiwi businesses save time and succeed.

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