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How to be a More Sustainable Business

It was the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, who famously said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” At the time, he probably had no idea of how relevant this would be in all walks of life – including to anyone looking to be more sustainable. In an ideal world, there would be no waste, no carbon footprints, and no actions that could harm the environment. The truth, however, is that it’s unrealistic and almost impossible – but that doesn’t mean business sustainability can’t be achieved by taking one small step at a time.

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What makes a business more sustainable?

Companies can consider many quick wins if they’re looking at how to be more sustainable. Here at WTTB, we’re constantly looking at ways to reduce our environmental impact and are proud to say that in 2022 we reduced our carbon emissions by 6%.

Business sustainability examples we have employed include changing our plastic tape to a paper version and removing 6300kg of plastic waste. We’ve also changed how we pack perfect and case bound books, no longer using plastic bubble wrap before putting them in a box. Instead, we use a “box within a box” method, which, as well as having the bonus of giving more protection, is also eco-friendly.

In most businesses, it’s the use of energy that has one of the biggest impacts on the environment. When forming sustainability strategies for businesses, reduction of energy use should definitely be one to think about. Not only is it better for the environment, but it also makes sound economic sense, as soaring energy bills have made companies of all sizes look at ways to reduce their costs.

Again here at WTTB, we introduced a “traffic light” initiative which highlighted which pieces of equipment could be switched off when not in use (green), those which could be turned off over weekends when they were less likely to be used (amber) and those which needed to be kept on (red). The results were significant savings – and an example that other companies could easily follow.

What is sustainability in a business?

Sustainability in business means a strategy to reduce its negative environmental impact and consider its social responsibility and how it affects the economy. These principles are more widely known as “people, planet, purpose and profits” and are key to creating a sustainable business model.

This doesn’t just go for large-scale, international corporations – smaller companies can also look at their products and practices and find ways to lessen their environmental impact.

Creating sustainable business ideas also makes sound economic sense as customers are likelier to buy from organisations they perceive as more “green.”

Why sustainability is important in businesses

Sustainability in businesses is vital for environmental preservation, social responsibility, cost savings, regulatory compliance, and competitive advantage. It minimises negative impacts, builds positive relationships, reduces expenses, mitigates risks, and attracts conscious consumers. Embracing sustainability creates long-term value and fosters a more sustainable future.

Consumer research in 2020 showed that more than 60% of those who took part said they paid more for a product with sustainable packaging, with sustainability being considered an important consideration. A report published by Recycling Lives revealed that 81% of consumers preferred to buy from sustainable sellers.

At WTTB, we are constantly growing our product ranges which use recycled products with everything from greetings cards to eco-friendly leaflets available. The current interest in all things green could also inspire your business and give you a new outlet or idea to set up for the first time.

What is a good example of sustainability in business?

There’s a huge kickback against disposal fashion and growth in pre-loved clothes and according to research agency, Stylus, in 2022, 31% of UK consumers used second-hand clothing websites to buy or sell items.

eBay has always been at the forefront of promoting reselling items and even launched its own “imperfect” category, which offers luxury items where the only faults were missing elements such as buttons or a lack of original packaging.

Given the current cost of living crisis, the market for sustainable fashion – and other items – has never been more buoyant. While economic considerations may drive this initiative, the fact that it has a positive impact on the environment can’t be ignored.

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What makes a small business sustainable?

With a little thought and effort, any small business can make inroads into being more sustainable.

First, look at energy waste – can you turn some lights off/turn your computer/equipment off when it’s not in use? Look at the products you create. For example, if you’re a jewellery company, why not look at how you present your items? Could you use greener display materials? At the same time, think about your packaging and use recycled – or recyclable – products wherever possible.

Buy green office supplies and print only environmentally friendly paper – we have a whole range to choose from! Try to reduce the amount of waste you create and recycle and reuse wherever possible. Ensure you also share your green efforts with your customers – it can help create loyalty and possibly even get you new business.

Any business can help the environmental cause with little thought and effort. It may only be one small step, but it can result in a big win!


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