6 ways to make your global business greener


women watering plants at her desk

women watering plants at her desk

Sustainability is no longer a buzz word. Going green has become the focus of businesses and consumers looking for ways to lessen their impact on the environment and work toward a better future.

Businesses who actively look for ways to lower their carbon footprint stand to gain a lot; in addition to a reduced environmental impact, these businesses often save money due to reduced energy and supply consumption, and they often see a boost in sales as customers seek out businesses with green reputations.

There are plenty of ways to reduce a business’s impact on the environment, such as encouraging recycling in the office and installing low-energy lightbulbs. But moving beyond simple steps to gain a real impact on a business’s sustainability can seem like a major feat. By focusing on one area at a time, moving toward sustainability is possible. Here are six ways you can make your global business greener.

1. Take advantage of technology

There are infinite technology applications that can help to reduce a business’s environmental impact.

Cloud computing allows employees to share information without using an abundance of paper or the need for housing energy-hogging servers in house.

Teleconferencing can reduce your company’s environmental footprint and save money by reducing the need for travel. Similarly, project management and virtual communication programs  allow employees to telecommute, reducing the carbon emissions that come with daily commutes.

As you replace outdated systems in your office, do your research to find the best technology to suit your needs. New hardware or software might reduce the amount of equipment you need, reduce your energy consumption or even allow for operational efficiencies that older technologies couldn’t produce.

2. Analyze your supply chain

When you’re importing and exporting goods around the world, having a negative impact on the environment might seem unavoidable. While you might not be able to eliminate the impact of your supply chain entirely, you can find opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint and save money.

Making your supply chain more environmentally-friendly begins with analysis.

Revamp your supply chain by looking at it in full and then breaking it into manageable links.

Start with the link that’s closest to the endpoint of the supply chain and look for ways to make that individual link more efficient. That might include more direct shipping routes, improved ordering to avoid partial shipments, or switching to shipping companies that focus on greener transportation.

The links of the supply chain that are closest to the end point will have the largest impact on sustainability and cost, and as you work your way down the supply chain you’ll find identifying and implement efficiencies becomes easier and easier.

3. Choose your suppliers carefully

Unfortunately, suppliers have a significant impact on the environment, from the raw materials they use to the waste they emit. Therefore, choosing your suppliers wisely can help you make your business greener.

Look for suppliers who use goods that are sustainably grown or produced. Supplies should be manufactured without damaging or toxic chemicals.

Finding suppliers that are closer to home or to the next step in your supply chain can help reduce the carbon emissions that come with shipping supplies long distances.

4. Rethink your packaging

There’s a lot of waste in packaging.

Most shipping boxes contain 40% empty space, and nearly every package includes plastic, which is environmentally damaging to produce and nearly impossible to dispose of in an environmentally friendly way.

Rethinking your packaging can make your business greener and help save money. Look for smaller boxes that use less cardboard and avoid plastic. Also seek out shipping materials that can be recycled or reused, or that are made from postconsumer materials.

When plastic makes the most sense for your packaging needs, look for environmentally-friendly plastic alternatives. Avoid mixing packaging materials that are difficult to recycle. Finally, make sure you’re educating your consumers on how to recycle or reuse your packaging materials.

5. Go green at HQ

It’s easy to make your office greener with simple steps like installing motion sensors to turn lights off when rooms aren’t in use, or installing energy-saving LED bulbs. But to have a real impact, go beyond the basics to reduce the carbon footprint of your business’s physical locations.

You can go all out and build an office that is certified environmentally friendly, or you can take a series of smaller but impactful steps.

Examples of meaningful steps you can take include using less water and eliminating chemicals in your landscaping, installing solar panels or wind turbines to harness green energy, or planting rooftop vegetation to reduce polluted storm-water runoff and better insulate your building.

6. Set the green example

Making your global business more sustainable might seem like a long, hard road, but simply making the effort can have a major impact on the environment and your business.

When you take steps to go green, other businesses — from your competition to those in your supply chain — take note.

By going green, you set an example that can have a ripple effect. Not only will it encourage other businesses to follow suit because of the environmental and economic effects, but it will encourage consumers to seek you out as they also look toward a greener future.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributing author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forum for International Trade Training.

About the author

Author: Jennifer Nesbitt

Jennifer Nesbitt is a New York-based freelance copywriter. A former journalist and graduate of Penn State University, Jennifer now writes about a variety of topics, including business, technology and marketing. She is passionate about helping companies develop their brands by providing compelling copy that adds value to their online presence.

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