Becoming known as an eco-friendly brand isn't easy. Especially when so many brands present themselves as environmentally minded, and make so much noise on social and traditional media, even if their practices don't follow suit.
The best, and most ethical, way to successfully promote yourself as an environmentally conscious brand is to actually become one.
Here are some actionable tips for reducing your company's carbon footprint and getting the world to see your eco-friendly efforts.
Use sustainable materials
The first step toward becoming an environmentally friendly business is to analyze the energy impact of your company—starting with the products and services you offer—as well as the suppliers you work with, the packaging you use, the efficiency of your office space, and the commute of your workers.
Using sustainable materials is a vital first step toward establishing your brand as an eco-friendly entity, so ask yourself the following questions to help you determine the steps you need to take to reduce your company's negative environmental impact:
Are your products plastic? If so, make sure they are recyclable, and if possible create them from recycled materials. Label them with the appropriate recycling symbols. On your website, create a section talking about why you choose to use the materials you do. Doing so will not only show people what you're doing for the environment but also educate them on what they can do as well.
Do your employees work individually and mostly on phones or computers? If your business model doesn't require constant collaboration, consider allowing employees to work remotely on certain days, or even full-time. That would reduce their commute and save you the costs of keeping lights and heat on. Allowing remote work has also been shown to improve employee morale and efficiency.
Are your products made of wood? If so, make sure they come from sustainable sources. Also look at wood with certifications like the Sustainable Forest Initiative, which makes sure wood is harvested from appropriate locations and in a sustainable manner.
Is your building up to current energy standards? Look into green certifications, such as LEED, and look at what changes you would have to make in order to meet them. Even if you can't meet all of the qualifications for certification, you can most likely make improvements to reduce your carbon footprint. And when you look at reducing the energy output of your building, you'll almost always end up saving money in the process.
Could your packaging be improved—or eliminated? If you use plastic packaging, encourage people to recycle it. But also consider whether you really need packaging at all. If the product can't do without packaging, look at reusable options, such as cardboard rather than disposable plastics that get immediately destroyed and thrown away. Consider glass containers that customers can reuse. Give tips on how your packaging can be repurposed and upcycled.
Recycle and donate
When it comes time to upgrade equipment or clean out the office, make a goal of minimizing the items that go to the landfill.
Look for schools and organizations in need of computers, printers, and other technology. If electronics have truly run their course, use an electronics recycling service that will make sure harmful materials don't end up at the dump and seep into the water supply.
Invite others to join your efforts
The best way to make people aware of your environmental efforts is to invite them to join you. Get your employees involved in keeping the office energy footprint low. Put signs around the office encouraging them to keep lights off and to usie natural light from windows. Keep recycling and compost bins at the office (and provide instructions). Make sure your janitorial staff disposes of the contents of each bin properly.
To get customers involved in your efforts, use your marketing content. Ask that they recycle your packaging. Inform them of why you do business the way you do. Host an annual tree planting or electronic recycling day. Get the community involved in public efforts.
You can also partner with other companies to create environmentally friendly events, or work together to reduce energy output. For example, if you create a lot of cardboard waste, you might find a moving or packaging company that needs boxes and work out a partnership. Or if you end up with a lot of glass waste, you can find local artists and organizations that make new products out of recycled bottles.
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Those are just some starting points when trying to establish your company as an environmentally conscious brand. Have you tried other tactics? Please share your experiences in the comments.