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Sustainable Strategy for SMEs

We’ve been hearing a lot in recent weeks about climate change with the media coverage of Trump’s refusal to sign the Paris Accord and the latest from the Antarctic where one of the largest floating ice rifts sports a rapidly growing crack that scientists claim is “hanging by a thread” and about to calve, resulting in an iceberg the size of Wales.  Businesses around the world have become aware of the need to protect our environment with sustainable business practices and use their “green” credentials in advertising to attract customers who are committed to sustainable, eco-friendly shopping.

In recent years, with the increase in environmental awareness among the general population, more and more people are using their purchasing power to commit to an eco-friendly lifestyle.  This means that when researching online, a company’s green credentials or sustainability can be a vital factor when making a buying decision.  Going green is seen as an essential element for many businesses nowadays but it’s not just a matter of adding an eco-friendly sticker to your website or products – you have to be committed and authentic about it or you’ll be accused of greenwashing.  Greenwashing is when a company spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimise environmental impact.

Social media platforms make it easy for customers to review both products and businesses and spread the word about a company’s green credentials.  For instance, Amazon regularly gets slated on social media channels (especially on Facebook and Twitter) for the amount of packaging it uses.  There was a case recently of a lady who ordered two eco-friendly outdoor rugs for her garden and was horrified to find that, not only were they over packaged in huge cardboard boxes (that she then needed to recycle) but that they were delivered on consecutive days!  Delivering on the same day would have halved the fuel used and emissions from the delivery van, so this lady had a very valid point.  It transpired that the items ordered were “fulfilled by Amazon” whereas if the rugs had been ordered direct from the merchant’s website, they would have both been delivered on the same day and packaged in just a sturdy plastic sleeve.

Meanwhile, tech giant, Apple has announced plans to stop using mined minerals and elements and, instead, rely on recycled materials to make its products. 

Adopting a sustainable strategy for your business is not quite as simple as it first looks.  The move towards sustainable shopping can be great news for small businesses as more people choose to shop local or buy from independent traders.  There are micro-businesses operating solely through social media nowadays and people like to buy from them – direct communication is easy and it delivers a more personalised customer experience. 

If you want to adopt a sustainable strategy for your business, then you need to realise it’s not just about recycling or limiting the use of print outs – it really is a much more complex process than that.  Next week we’ll take a look at some of the things you can do to adopt a sustainable strategy for your business.